, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 11 – Poaching, human encroachment, structural developments within parks are fast robbing the country of its pride… the lion.
Lions, just like any other wildlife animal are precious for the country, but only when in its territory – at designated national parks.
- The Serengeti/Mara system shared with neighbouring Tanzania is believed to contain 3,673 lions.
- The Tsavo-Mkomazi lion is estimated to contain 880 lions.
- The Arawale-Bush lion area, shared with Somalia, is estimated to contain 750 lions.
- The Laikipia - Samburu lion area has 271 lions.
The survival of carnivore populations in Kenya is severely threatened by habitat loss and anthropogenic activity, reduction in wild prey base, human-carnivore conflicts, disease, ignorance and misconceptions, road accidents and poorly managed tourism.
These species are threatened directly when they are killed due to threats on human beings and livestock.
Indirectly, they are killed when they get into snares set for other species. Poisoning, snaring for ungulates and spearing, all are major threats.
Poisoning is perhaps the single greatest threat to carnivores and scavenging birds.
Capital FM News caught up with Deputy Director in Charge of Species at KWS, Patrick Omondi, who said with guidance from the conservation and management strategies, various methods have been put in place by KWS in collaboration with key stakeholders to help communities living close to wildlife areas deal with losses brought about by carnivores.
“Due to human population growth, people have encroached into wildlife areas thus reducing the area where wild herbivores range,” stated Omondi, “This coupled with competition for pasture with domestic stock and illegal hunting by the communities has led to reduction in wild prey numbers.”
“Also, carnivores are susceptible to retaliatory killing especially when they predate on livestock,” noted Omondi.
Carnivore conflict hotspot areas are mostly in Maasai Mara, Kajiado, Amboseli, Tsavo, Samburu, Laikipia, Lamu and Mountain region areas.
Other ranging issues affecting the carnivore population in Kenya include;
– Ignorance and misconceptions –
More myths have arisen in regard to hyenas than perhaps any other animal in Africa. They are portrayed in a negative light in Western art and literature and they are feared and hated by many Africans today.
“This dark public image, born largely of ignorance, currently represents one of the most serious obstacles to the conservation of spotted and other hyenas,” showed a KWS report on status of carnivores in Kenya.
– Road accidents –
High speed roads in particular those that are next to major wildlife areas represent a threat to carnivores.