Species conservation in Kenya

Status of species conservation: Kenya ranks second highest in terms of bird and mammal species richness when compared to other African countries and has high levels of species endemism or species that live nowhere else on earth. This notwithstanding, the trend in Kenyan wildlife populations is alarming. A recently published study has revealed that bbetween 1977 and 2016; Kenya’s rangelands lost 68.1 percent of wildlife equivalent to 1.7 percent loss per year (Ogutu, et al 2016). The declines were particularly extreme (72–88%) for warthog (Pharcoerus africanus), lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imbermbis), Thomson’s gazelle, eland (Taurotragus oryx), oryx (Oryx gazelle beisa), topi (Damaliscus lunatus korrigum), hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus), impala (Aepyceros melampus), Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) and waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus); severe (60–70%) for wildebeest, giraffe (Giraffa cemelopardalis), gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) and Grant’s gazelle (Gazella granti); and moderate (30–50%) for Burchell’s zebra, buffalo (Syncerus caffer), elephant (Loxodonta africana) and ostrich (Struthio camelus).

Protected areas

Simultaneously, the Study observed a spectacular increase in numbers of sheep and goats (124.5–648.1%) in 8 counties (Narok, Taita Taveta, Lamu, Laikipia, Samburu, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit), moderately (3.8–89.3%) in 10 counties but decreased marginally (3.8–64.4%) in Kwale and Elgeyo Marakwet counties. The population of camels also increased many-fold (450–17896%) in Kitui, Laikipia and West Pokot counties and, to a lesser extent (89–119%), in Baringo, Garissa and Samburu counties, signifying increasing and widespread adoption of camels in these counties. Such an inverse relationship indicates a worrying clear and systematic trend whereby wildlife is being replaced by livestock in pastoral counties including those within the traverse. The main drivers to this displacement are habitat loss and fragmentation, blockage of migratory corridors, loss of breeding and water sanctuaries, retaliatory killing among others.

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