Kenya losing wild animals at alarming rate
Posted Monday, February 22 2010 at 20:00
- Minister says lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas are becoming extinct
The number of carnivorous animals in the country is on the decline and the government is worried.
From cheetahs, lions and leopards to stripped hyena’s and African wild dogs, their population has been dwindling at an alarming rate, a trend that is now being blamed on climate change, loss of food, and increased human population.
On Monday, Forestry and Wildlife minister Noah Wekesa said it was a matter of serious concern that needed urgent attention.
“The number of the large carnivores is on the decline throughout the world and Kenya’s is no exception,” said the minister in a statement.
Dr Wekesa asked communities not to kill lions and hyenas and pledged that KWS would do everything possible to protect them and their livestock.
“I know there are plans to build lion-proof bomas. Let us all strive to preserve this important heritage,” he concluded.
Statistics from the Kenya Wildlife Service, for instance, indicate that the population of lions in the country had declined from an estimated 2,749 in 2002 to about 2000 in 2008.
But despite their receding numbers, the minister said the remaining animals were still a major source of problems especially to those living near national parks and reserves.
Attacks on livestock by large carnivores, he said, had increased and this consequently led to the killing of the wild animals.
“The just ended prolonged drought was the worst that had ever been felt in the area. The number of herbivores was reduced from as many as 7,000 to just 300,” he said while launching an ambitious strategy to conserve the carnivores.
Added the minister: “Already, the communities had lost over 80 per cent of their livestock to the drought. When the lions and hyenas turned to the remaining livestock, the communities were distressed and attacked them in return.”
Dr Wekesa continued: “The drought took a heavy toll on both wild animals and the habitats we care for. Besides, it also adversely affected the livestock of communities living adjacent to national parks and reserves. One of the consequences of the drought was increase in human wildlife conflict.”
The minister cited the ongoing translocation of 7,000 zebra and wildebeests at a cost of Sh103 million to restore the Amboseli ecosystem by the Kenya Wildlife Service as a show of government commitment to community welfare.
It is expected that the exercise will, in the long run, provide food to these animals, thus alleviating the human-wildlife conflict and ecological imbalance.
Dr Wekesa said the success of conservation efforts in the country largely depended on the goodwill of communities living adjacent to national parks and reserves.
“This means we have to protect the livelihoods of these communities and promote harmonious co-existence with wildlife,” the minister said.
The strategy is to provide a road map for the conservation of the animals.