NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – The Kenya Wildlife Service has begun restocking the Shimba Hills National Reserve with various wild animals to improve biodiversity and enhance tourism.
The translocation of wild animals from Tsavo East National Park over a 150km distance to one of Kenya’s treasured coastal rainforests includes 100 impalas, 15 giraffes and 50 kongoni.
On Friday morning, Simon Gitau, the Coast Assistant Director formally launched the exercise by releasing three giraffes into the 250km square park in a move meant to attract more visitors, not just to Shimba Hills, but also to the neighbouring Mwaluganje Elephant Community Sanctuary.
The grazing area in the Shimba Hills ecosystem has been under-utilised due to a low numbers of mammals, according to a press statement issued by the KWS Corporate Communications Manager Paul Udoto.
“Many tourists who flock to the area are usually disappointed with the limited game viewing at the beautiful coastal rain forest. The restocking is also expected to address this challenge,” the statement read in part.
Udoto said on Friday that the reserve was the only place in Kenya with the magnificent but endangered population of the Sable antelope. Other wild animals found in the park include elephants, colobus monkeys, the leopard, serval cats and hyenas.
Shimba Hills, located 35 km south west of Mombasa via the Likoni ferry, offers several panoramic picnic and observation points.
The Hills are cloaked in a mantle of ancient forests, one of the largest contiguous pieces in East Africa where over a thousand species of plants have been recorded, a quarter of them endemic to the area.
The reserve is regarded as having one of the most diverse forested ecosystems in the Coastal Region as about 15 percent of the rare plants in them are coastal endemic and more than 50 percent of the 159 rare plant species known to occur in Kenya are found in the ecosystem.
It is also an important water catchment as it provides fresh water locally and regionally being the source of three permanent rivers; Marere-Manolo-Pemba River, Mkurumudzi and Ramisi.