How Did the Elephant Cross the Road?

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African elephants are big, so big in fact that they’re the largest land mammal, weighing upwards of 6,350 kg! Species that size need to eat a lot. Elephants spend 12-18 hours a day eating, consuming around 100-300kg of food every day. To find all of those meals, elephants have to be on the move- migrating in search of fruits and other plants. Their excellent memory helps them to know where food and water sources are. An elephant herd will return to the same spots year after year, even traveling along the same paths. They definitely don’t need Google Maps to find the best spots to dine!

Herd of elephants eating
Photo credit Marcus Newton

Having a lot of hungry elephants on the move creates some big challenges for the local community. Elephants can run into trouble with their neighbours if they are migrating through farms and damaging crops and fences. It can also be really dangerous for the elephants when they come across roads, which sometimes cut through their migratory path. So how do you get an elephant safely across a barrier like a road? You give them protected wildlife corridors!

Check out this article about Wildlife Corridors here in Canada

The elephants at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy move across long distances. They migrate from Northern Kenya to the protected areas of Lewa and Mount Kenya as well as westward towards the Borana Conservancy. To keep the animals safe, Lewa manages four wildlife corridors. Lewa’s wildlife corridors are used mostly by elephants, but sometimes zebras, giraffes, lions, leopards and hyenas will also pass through them. The corridors are monitored using camera traps, which help researchers and the staff at Lewa keep an eye on who is using the corridors. Check out this photo gallery of animal crossings.

 

One of Lewa’s wildlife corridors is called the Mount Kenya Underpass. This corridor is a really creative solution to keep elephants away from cars and it is one of a kind in Africa. The Mount Kenya Underpass was built under a busy highway to allow elephants, and other wildlife, to move under the road instead of having to cross it. There were concerns when this underpass was first built about whether elephants would use it. But the corridor is a big success! The underpass was built big enough and in a good location so elephants feel safe using it. Today, this underpass is a busy spot; elephants have used it over 2,000 times in the past three years!

elephant_underpass_lewa
Elephants using the underpass

Earth Month is for the Animals

Keeping elephants safe and helping wildlife migrate takes a lot of work and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re asking all Earth Ranger kids to help protect the animals that live at Lewa. Find out how you can celebrate Earth Month is for the Animals and help Lewa protect elephants in Kenya, Africa.

elephants Kenya Africa
Photo credit Daryl and Sharna Balfour