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Wildlife Conservation in Kenya

Photographer: Dai Kurokawa

 

Despite the tremendous loss it suffered during the previous century, Kenya still teems with wildlife, with dozens of terrestrial and marine National Parks and Reserves. Flourished with flora and fauna, the country has over 1,000 species of birds, 261 mammals, and 6,500 species of plants.

 

Wildlife plays a major role in Kenya's socioeconomic development, serving as one of the major drawing cards for the tourism which is Kenya's largest source of foreign currency revenue. However, the human-wildlife conflict has been a serious obstacle to wildlife conservation in Kenya, as it has in other parts of the world. More than 60 per cent of Kenya's biodiversity is said to be found outside of the protected areas such as National Parks and Reserves that are not completely fenced. As a result of increasing human population, further development, unplanned changes in land use and the climate change, people from the surrounding communities and wildlife are put in direct competition for a diminishing resource base. Some parks and their ecosystems were hit hard by the recent prolonged drought which resulted in massive deaths of herbivorous animals such as zebras, elephants and buffaloes. This in turn created a shortage of food for carnivores such as lions and hyenas.

 

On 22 February 2012, the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) launched a 10-year National Elephant Conservation and Management Strategy aiming to raise elephant population by increasing their habitat and security from the poachers as well as from the human-wildlife conflicts. In 2011, the KWS has seized some three tonnes of ivory in illicit trade. Kenya is tasked with a hard and indispensable mission- conserving the wildlife which is of immeasurable socioeconomic value to the country, but also of cultural and aesthetic value not only to Kenya itself but to the rest of the world.