(Xinhua) -- Scientists have called for an urgent
action to help save Kenya’s wildlife population from the current
The Kenyan and German scientists who
conducted an aerial survey of wildlife in the East Africa nation
said wildlife population has declined by around 68 percent from
“Increased human and livestock
populations and climate change are to blame for the decline,”
Joseph Ogutu, lead researcher and lecturer at German’s
University of Hohenheim, Germany said in a recent study.
The survey found out that seven
wildlife species across Kenya were classed as critically
endangered, 19 as endangered and 37 as vulnerable by 2013 while
44 ecosystems currently classed as endangered.
Ogutu said the decline shows no signs
of stopping, with species like the Thomson’s gazelle, warthog
and oryx among others, now under severe threat while numbers of
Grevy’s zebra and waterbuck have fallen lower than 2,000,
putting them amongst a number of species whose future viability
is under extreme risk.
He said that although some species
appear to do well when living in conjunction with humans, this
has led to those which are particularly vulnerable to human
expansion suffering some of the hardest losses.
The scientist said degradation and
fragmentation of rangeland habitats, clearing for agriculture,
settlements and uncontrolled logging for the charcoal trade may
be preventing wildlife from utilizing certain areas.
The team also found that some
migratory species, such as wildebeest and zebra are less likely
to venture into the Mara region during dry seasons than
previously seen, suggesting that these factors are contributing
to a disruption of migration routes.
The study found that even though
overgrazing is causing the degradation of forage resources hence
the decline of cattle in the areas, sheep and goats have seen
massive growth over the study period.
According to the survey, the
populations of sheep, goats and camels increased by more than 76
percent, a likelihood that the increase is putting added grazing
pressure on land that is shared with wildlife and restricting
their access to resources and cover.
“Competition with livestock,
aggravated by poor forage due to steadily climbing temperatures,
has driven wild buffalo from some areas altogether,” he added.
Ogutu suggested that more needs to be
done to encourage wildlife conservancies across Africa, not just
“It is important governments make
wildlife conservancies economically viable for poor landowners
to volunteer their land for use by wildlife and prevent the
poisoning and poaching of wild species, as a way of restoring
wildlife populations and their ecosystems,” Ogutu noted.
He cited Nakuru Conservancy that has
succeeded as many previously declining species showed a marked
increase between 1996 and 2015.
The scientist praised Kenya for
adapting the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act in 2013
but said that some restrictions need to be placed on land
fragmentation such as through fences, illegal livestock grazing
in parks, reserves and conservancies and livestock levels to
reduce the impact of grazing on the rangelands.
He said some landowners use the money
from conservancies to build fences and increase their livestock
herd size, causing further competition between their livestock
and wildlife benefiting from the conservancies.
The scientist observed that for the
realization of conservation goals to be achieved, there is need
for continued monitoring of population trends.
“Wildlife conservancies, paired with
policy reviews, effective wildlife management institutions and
vibrant markets for wildlife will be the best way forward for
conservation in Kenya,” he added.