Thursday, July 15, 2010

KWS launches plan to restock depleted national parks

By ABY WASONGA

Kenya Wildlife Service has launched a conservation programme to restock the national parks.

Conservation researchers expressed concern at what they called alarming rate at which wild cats across the regional migratory corridors are dwindling.

Senior KWS scientist Charles Musyoki told a workshop at the KWS headquarters in Nairobi that the rapid decline of wild cats is caused by prolonged drought and limited roaming areas.

“Drought and limited acreage in parks has forced wildlife to move out of the protected areas,” he said.

Dr Musyoki pointed out that human encroachment on parks was a major factor in the diminishing number of lions, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs.

The local people are being educated on the importance of wildlife conservation due to a growing number of people who kill predators for preying on their livestock, he added.

The latest KWS census conducted this year shows that there are 1,970 lions, 1,160 cheetahs, 845 wild dogs, 1,000 striped hyenas and 3,000 spotted hyenas, with the leopard count under way.

Dr Musyoki said KWS had developed “carnivore-proof” bomas in which people living near parks will be able to keep the livestock overnight from attacks by predators.

Dr Lawrence Frank, a carnivore conservation expert, was also concerned, saying: “Large carnivores are disappearing very rapidly.”

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