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Save the Tsavo River Toad

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Posted by  Cody Friday, 07 August 2009 14:59

Save the Tsavo River Toad

 LET US SAVE THE LESSER WEBBED
TOED TSAVO RIVER TOAD

it is not the response to cautionary signs that
determines the compliance culture in a country

Coastweek.com -- As we continue to explore the issue of convergence of driving rules, we will this week consider the important aspect of communication of the driving rules, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

An important part of driving is being able to see and decipher road signs.

On the mandatory and cautionary road signs, there is quite a degree of convergence.

There is general agreement about what the round and triangular shapes mean.

However, the colour of the border of the sign varies from country to country.

Some have red borders, others have black and we also have blue borders.

Whilst there may be differences in colour, the general understanding is that the shape is the key determinant of the message the area where there is less convergence is in the area of informative signs.

In this area, countries are creative in putting out national informative signs.

It is also the area where individual sections of the community can be creative.

In the area of cautionary signs there are instances when one will find that countries can have differences.

The ones that tend to confuse is where warning signs are put up to inform people about animals.

Generally speaking, these signs will inform the driver that there is the likelihood of animals straying on to the road or even in some instances that the animals have the right of way.

If one is not familiar with the fauna and flora of the country then they are likely to ignore the sign and hope nothing happens.

In Kenya, it is very unlikely that conservationists will be able to create enough fuss for the government and road authorities to designate an area as a special reserve for a particular threatened species and then go all out to ensure that they rule in that particular habitat.

Imagine a situation where a toad is deemed to be a rare and endangered species ... for arguments sake let us call it the lesser web toed Tsavo toad.

The habitat of the toad straddles the Mombasa Nairobi road somewhere near the Tsavo River .

The range of the toads is some six kilometres along this river and they criss cross the roads for about a month a year when in the mating season.

At this time the road is almost wall to wall toad for a certain period of the day each day.

The conservationists want the road closed for the period when the toads are crossing the road so that they can go about their business of mating without interference.

The government and roads authority agree that this should happen and they put up the necessary road signs.

The reality is that Kenyans will ignore the road sign and drive straight over the toads.

As far as they are concerned, all toads are vermin and deserve to be eliminated, conservationists or not.

We are generally very impatient drivers and if we can get away with breaking the law we will do so.

That is the culture of this country.

We are not even moved by the mandatory and cautionary road signs.

Stop and give way signs are just bits of metal that some crazy guy has put at the side of the road so that the fringe of the road complies with what is expected.

Drivers are not supposed to take the least interest in what they mean. The Highway Code is information that one remembers when one is told that there are cops in the vicinity.

Speed limits are only observed when there is the likelihood of being arrested and charged.

The opposite is true in say Canada where one carefully observes information signs.

A driver coming across one that cautions about the likelihood of caribou crossing the road will cause the driver to slow down and look out for the animals.

Should the animals be within range of the road, drivers are likely to stop and admire the animals.

I agreed with Kachumbari that it is not the response to mandatory or cautionary signs that determines the compliance culture in a country.

The best barometer is the response to informative signs.

These are the ones that do not lead to any interest by the cops or law enforcement agencies.

Where there is little regard to informative signs, the driving culture is careless, impatient and very bullying.

Where drivers do pay attention to informative signs then the discipline in driving is a lot better.

As Kachumbari says, compliance doesn't come easy.

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