EXTENSION OF THE MOUNT KENYA WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Roger Porter
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

 

Abstract
The Lewa Wildlife Conservancy (LWC) extension to the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site (WHS) lies at the junction of the Afro-Tropical montane ecosystem and the semi-arid East African savannagrasslands, i.e. at the interface and centre of endemism of the Afromontane and Somali biomes. LWC also lies within the traditional migration route of an African elephant population of the Mount Kenya – Somali / Maasai ecosystem and has always been the traditional dry season feeding area for elephants. The two areas are linked by a fenced corridor that passes through commercial agricultural land which allows elephants and other wildlife (including endangered Grevy’s zebra) to move back and forth over a distance of some 200 km to the north. This corridor is a significant proactive intervention that safeguards the unique elements of biodiversity of this region of East Africa. It has been successful in resolving the decades old elephant–people conflict between commercial and rural farmers. By consolidating the two protected areas additional biodiversity and ecosystem processes that were not part of the WHS have now been incorporated, that is, the lower lying foothills and arid habitats of high biological richness and diversity. By ensuring freedom of animal movement and conserving the areas’ rich biodiversity the WHS – LWC extension is of global importance for the study of climatic and environmental conditions and corresponding biodiversity responses to future climate change. Organisms dependent on semi-arid conditions would undergo thermophilization and become established at suitable sites or areas at higher elevations on the mountain should future average temperatures and precipitation change. Potentially our knowledge and understanding of the consequences of climate change and the consequent biotic responses within the tropical African equatorial region would be advanced if intensive long-term monitoring is done.

 

Presentation Topic
EXTENSION OF THE MOUNT KENYA WORLD HERITAGE SITE
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