Worrying wildlife roadkill as Kenya extends highways, railway network

Roadkill is becoming a major cause of wildlife deaths as Kenya accelerates its road and rail network.

A study by among others the Ministry of Tourism says this will only get worse as the country plans new transport corridors in wildlife rich areas.

The study, the first of its kind in Kenya had assessed the magnitude and trends of wildlife roadkill at the Tsavo Conservation Area.

Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) is an important biodiversity hotspot in Southeastern Kenya and is bisected by a major highway and railways that connect the port of Mombasa to the interior.

The survey published in March 2021 in the journal Heliyon recorded 1,436 roadkills along the Nairobi – Mombasa road during the study period. Majority of the dead animals were small to medium sized mammals.

“In terms of numbers, small to medium-sized mammals were the most abundant roadkill (53%), followed by birds (32%), reptiles (10%), and lastly large mammals (5%),” says the study.

The team documents roadkill involving ‘species of concern such the critically endangered Taita thrush, the endangered African wild dog and threatened elephants.

These findings, the authors say indicates a need and opportunity to limit further road mortality of these species.

However they warn things could get worse, with a major new expressway being planned to traverse through the Tsavo area connecting Nairobi to Mombasa.

“The construction of this 473-kilometer expressway is expected to further divide the TCA and affect wildlife connectivity between important habitats.”

The team suggests measures be put in place to mitigate the impact of infrastructure by modifying human behavior using road signs and speed limits.

By Gatonye Gathura

The study is available here :  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2021.e06364

About Gatonye Gathura 125 Articles
Science Journalist

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