Kenya’s wildlife flees al-Shabab conflict into Somalia

Elephants, lions, leopards, giraffe and buffalo spotted for first time in decades in Somalia as they flee operations.

Almost all of the game animals that survived poachers after the start of Somalia's civil war migrated to neighbouring Kenya [AP]

Wild elephants, lions, leopards, giraffe, buffalo and ostriches have been spotted in Somalia’s Lower Jubba area in the first sightings of the animals in the east African country in decades.

The animals are believed to have been displaced from Kenya’s Boni forest by ongoing security operations against the armed group al-Shabab that operates in the area.

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Boni forest, which is a national reserve for conservation, borders Somalia.

“The animals are coming back in large numbers. Inside the town we have ostriches walking around. Leopards and elephants are just outside the town,” Farah Haybe, Badaade district commissioner, told Al Jazeera.

The densely forested area used to be home to herds of wild animals and birds until the start of the Somali war in 1991 which led to unabated poaching.

The animals which escaped the poachers, migrated across the border in to Kenya. But with sense of normalcy now returning to Somalia the animals’ fortunes seems to be changing.

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“The animals are returning from Kenya because they find peace here. They are not disturbed here. They are free and they find plenty of food here,” Haybe said.

With this latest development local authorities have been busy advising the population to not harm the wild animals.

“We have told all the butchers in the area it is illegal to kill or sell the meat of wild animals. But everyone is happy to see the animals back.” Haybe said.

Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa

Source: Al Jazeera