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Gaia Bonini

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
Masters of Science Candidate V'18
In 2016, construction was completed on Phase I of Kenya Railways’ electric Standard Gauge Rail line from Mombasa to Nairobi. Phase II, from Nairobi to Kitale is now under way and will reach the Ugandan border by 2021.

This rail line bisects several of Kenya’s protected areas, effectively cutting many species’ habitat in half. To minimize the elevation gradient of this high-speed rail, the train is set atop a ten-meter slope, which acts as a physical barrier within an animal’s range, trapping them on one side of the rail or the other.

Seven wildlife crossings were constructed under the railway within the Tsavo ecosystem, in the southern section of the line, to facilitate animal habitat cohesion, but more than 90% of the railway is built without wildlife crossings, posing major threats to Kenya’s wildlife, most of all to the country’s five most threatened species: cheetah, African lion, African elephant, black rhino and Grevy’s zebra.

In addition to the need to conserve these animals for the continued existence of their respective species, it is necessary for the growth of Kenya’s economy. Wildlife-based tourism accounts for 14 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

This analysis seeks to determine if the existing wildlife crossings were placed in an area of high suitability, using Kenya’s five most threatened species as a sample of Kenya’s broader biodiversity. In addition, the analysis provides recommendations for locations of suitable wildlife crossings, including those within protected areas.

My Poster & Web App Voting Sessions

Monday, October 15

1:45pm EDT