There have been disturbing declines in wildlife populations in Kenya in the past three decades, a new study revealed.
“Human population growth, increasing livestock numbers, declining rainfall and a striking rise in temperatures are to blame for the decline,” Dr. Joseph Ogutu, a researcher and lecturer at Germany’s University of Hohenheim that led the study, told Xinhua in an email interview.
Ogutu said that researches from 1977 to 2016 in Kenya’s rangelands show “extreme declines” in wildlife populations and increase in livestock numbers.
The study shows that the future of Kenyan wildlife is in serious jeopardy if without urgent, far-reaching and far-sighted changes to the current conservation and management.
“The results show a disturbing loss of wildlife in the same period (1977-2016) averaging 68.1 percent, equivalent to 1.7 percent loss per year,” Ogutu said.
The study finds that the numbers of giraffe, lesser kudu, hartebeest, impala, waterbuck, wildebeest, erenuk, Grant’s gazelle, warthog, Thomson’s gazelle, eland, oryx, topi and Grevy’s zebra declined most extremely in the country.
The gravity of the declines is underscored by the facts that by 2013, seven species of large mammals had been classified as critically endangered, including Ader’s duiker, the hirola or Hunter’s hartebeest, roan and sable antelopes.
“Some 19 species of mammals were rated as endangered, whereas 37 species of mammals were classified as vulnerable in Kenya,” Ogutu said.
The researcher suggests that to help restore the situation, some pastoral lands retaining wildlife should be buffered against human activities.
The study calls for a land-use plan to secure wildlife habitats from the impacts of the rapidly expanding human and livestock populations. Such a plan incorporats the biosphere concept of a protected core area enlarged by a multi-use buffer zone with compatible activities, according to him.
It calls for effective implementation of land-use policies and legislations that aim to minimize human-wildlife conflict, habitat degradation, fences, cultivation and annexation of water resources in the rangelands.
The study says the declines raise very grave concerns about the future of Kenya’s tourism industry, the country’s leading income earner.
The study was carried out by researchers from University of Hohenheim, the International Livestock Research Institute and Kenya’s Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing. E