Conservationist alarm over declining wildlife population
August 19, 2010
The number of wild animals in Kenya has reduced drastically, threatening the existence of one of the country’s major attraction to tourists, who bring most of foreign exchange, new data released by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) indicates.
One of the most affected wildlife species is the lion whose number has reduced by about 1,000 between 2002 and 2008 threatening to wipe off one of the country’s largest wild cats.
Kenya has an estimated 1,800 lions, down from 2,800 in 2002.
The country had 30,000 lions in the 1960s when it gained independence from Britain but poaching, drought and human-wildlife conflict have seen the population drop drastically.
Most of the lions in Kenya are found in Maasai Mara that host 825 of them followed by Tsavo National Park with 675 lions, 230 lions in Laikipia and 40 in Meru National Park with the rest distributed across the country.
The number of lions is still threatened because 33 per cent of the current population still live outside government protected areas said the KWS document.
In the recent Annual Carnivore Researchers’ Meeting held in Mombasa KWS Senior Research Scientist, Dr. Charles Musyoki cited human-wildlife conflict as one of the major causes of declining number of lions in Kenya.
He said carnivores still like lions attack livestock and this in turn leads to retaliation by the humans.
"This is normally carried out in form of poisoning, spearing and even shooting."
KWS listed elephants, lions, wild dogs, leopards, cheetah, hyenas, Sitatunga, Tana crested mangabey, and Tana red colobus monkeys as some of the most endangered wildlife species in Kenya.
The number of elephants has reduced from a high of 160,000 in 1970s to the current 30,000.
KWS said between the 1970s and 1980s Kenya lost over 80 percent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive poaching of elephants for ivory.
Also affected are the Black Rhinos whose number declined from 20,000 in 1970 to current 577.
"Poaching threat is still a challenge," said KWS, terming the Rhino as "critically endangered.
"The population of Grey Zebra declined from 13,500 in the late 1970s to just over 2000 by 2007."
The government agency in charge of managing game parks said cheetahs only occupy 23 per cent of their historical range in Kenya at an estimated population of 1,160.
Article at: http://www.coastweek.com/3333_wildlife.htm