We are all aware of the plight of the endangered white rhino through Sudan, the last male white rhino. We are also aware of the efforts being put in place to try and save this endangered species. What many people may not be aware of is the fact that there are other species in Kenya, which are endangered and are very close to extinction.
The picture of the wide-open savannah cannot be complete without the figure of the antelope. Unfortunately, this is a species under serious threat. The Sable antelope is facing extinction due to a number of factors including disease, drought leading to food and habitat loss, poaching for its horns and human encroachment on its habitat. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), less than 50 Sable antelopes remain in Kenya confined to Shimba Hills National Reserve.
An even more endangered species is the Roan antelope. The loss of this species over the past 40 years has been due to poaching and habitat loss. The KWS estimates that less than 20 Roan antelopes remain confined to Ruma National Park.
The Mountain Bongo is the largest and heaviest African forest-dwelling antelope. It is bright chestnut red in colour, becoming darker with age with narrow white stripes on shoulders, flanks and hindquarters. Both sexes have massive spiral horns. These antelope are under threat from hunting, habitat degradation and loss and disease. KWS estimates the wild Bongo population at 96 antelopes.
Also under threat are the wild dogs. African wild dogs are highly social members of the canid family. They avoid areas of high prey density to avoid larger carnivores. They are listed as critically endangered. KWS estimates their population at 845 spread across Ijara-Lamu, Isiolo, Kajiado-Loliondo, Kora-Nkitui, Machakos, Samburu-Laikipia and Tsavo. The threats they face include road accidents as they use high-speed roads to rest and travel, habitat loss, conflict with livestock farmers, prey loss, accidental snaring and disease.
Vultures are another of Kenya’s endangered species. According to the KWS nearly 65% of vulture populations over the last two decades have been lost mainly through the illegal use of pesticides to poison wildlife. Today 6 out of the eight vulture species that occur in Kenya are listed as critically endangered, threatened or near threatened and one of the non-threatened species Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus is very rare in Kenya with only a single confirmed pair. Critically Endangered vulture species include: Rüppell’s Vulture, White-backed Vulture, White-headed and Vulture Hooded Vulture. Endangered species include Neophron percnopterus Egyptian Vulture and Torgos tracheliotos Lappet-faced Vulture.
Threats that the vultures face includes livestock overgrazing and intensification of agriculture, poisoning on carcasses left out for other predators, collision, electrocution and danger from wind farms.
KWS is putting into place measures to reduce wildlife population decline. These measures include:
- Setting up of predator free sanctuaries
- Development of species recovery action plans
- Establishment of human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategies that includes compensation
- Establishment of habitat restoration programs
- Securing space for wildlife conservation
- Security and law enforcement
- Education and awareness programs on wildlife conservation
- Control/inform development activities to reduce loss of wildlife
It is hoped that these measures as well as active participation from the public will help save these endangered species and secure out natural heritage for future generations.