eMAP (Elephant Monitoring and Anti-Poaching) - Tsavo, Kenya

Tsavo Conservation Group works to secure wilderness areas in Kenya’s iconic Tsavo landscape and beyond, for the benefit of wildlife, habitat and people. It achieves this by implementing its ‘Stabilization through Conservation’ approach with a focus on innovation, partnership and stewardship.TsavoCon’s eMAP project in the Taita Ranches and Conservancies will establish the widest community-based elephant monitoring network in southern Kenya’s greater Tsavo ecosystem. The area hosts the highest concentration of elephants in Kenya but also suffers high rates of poaching – with 60% of all poaching in Kenya in 2014 occurring in the Tsavo ecosystem. It also has high levels of human-elephant conflict which results in resentment from the local communities.
 
Photo credit © Tsavo Conservation Group
Photo credit © Tsavo Conservation Group

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The Project

This project intends to resolve this by:
- Establishing the most comprehensive community based elephant monitoring network in the entire Tsavo ecosystem.
- Recruiting a team of 14 eMAP monitors from local communities and training them professionally. Each will be responsible for a specifc zone, collecting information on poaching, human-elephant conflict and elephant movements.
- Use the collected information to inform anti-poaching operations covering an area of 1.4 million-acres, support the design and implementation of human- elephant conflict mitigation measures and then build support for conservation amongst the communities who live alongside the wildlife.
 
Aerial photo of herd in Taita (Kim Davey)
Aerial photo of herd in Taita (Kim Davey)

The Update

 November 2017:
The project is off to a good start with six full time eMAP monitors receiving in-house training and now working with two apprentices/trainees from each of their local communities.
- Monitors respond to reports coming in from their communities and visit the scenes to verify the details.
- Data collection went live in June and the project is now underway to collect and eventually interpret and report on data findings over the next six months, and beyond.
- Some mitigation measures are being employed as a result of the monitors’ reports, such as heading off elephant herds reported to be moving toward agricultural areas (with Kenyan Wildlife Service), dismantling snare lines and disrupting the work of bush meat poaching networks. More data and analysis is required before any longer term mitigation measures can be planned.
- eMAP data gathered by monitors has also assisted the Kenyan Wildlife Service in verifying genuine cases of human-wildlife conflict (where compensation needs to be paid to the victims by the government).
- This first 6 months of the project has identified a need to train monitors to a higher level, and to this end the project has recruited an experienced GIS Mapping, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. The monitors will receive GPS and data recording methodology courses.
- The next stage of the project will involve further recruitment of eMAP monitors, training, data collection and subsequent dissemination and interpretation.

Final update:
Seven full time eMAP monitors have been fully trained and supported to undertake data collection, including elephant (and other species’) movements, herd compositions and human-wildlife conflicts. The training required was more extensive than initially planned and consequently resulted in slightly fewer monitors being trained than initially proposed. However, the project recruited a qualified and experienced GIS mapping specialist and operations officer who has been paramount in being able to supply this additional training and as a result Tsavo now plans to recruit more eMAP monitors.

The hard work continues at Tsavo, but with the successful establishment of the eMAP monitors and the data collection, the future for elephant conservation has taken a step in the right direction!

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We are hugely grateful for the support of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, without whose support we could never have realised such an ambitious project.
Hugo Tagholm, Surfers Against Sewage