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Kenyan Wildlife Pushed Aside for Avos

The free movement of some 2,000 Amboseli elephants, along with two dozen other wildlife species plus cows owned by local Maasai people, may be under threat – from avocados. Kenyan agricultural company KiliAvo Fresh Ltd, which has farms near Amboseli on nearly 175 acres of land, is building nurseries and preparing to grow the fruit, whose popularity is growing worldwide due to its high nutritional value. Conservationists are aghast. They say the plans and an electric fence on the farm will block the crucial Kimana Wildlife Corridor where elephants move between Amboseli, the Tsavo and Chyulu Hills parks, and strangle one of the region’s most beloved and important safari parks. With ideal conditions for growing the fruit, Kenya’s avocado export revenues surged 33% to 14 billion about $127 million in the year to October 2020, government data shows. As impressive as that growth rate is, such money pales in comparison to tourism, which raked in $1.6 billion in 2019. Squeezing the elephants could hit their population, conservationists say, harming a national heritage and also prejudicing the tourism trade so many people depend on.