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Ministry puts measures in place to protect wildlife from drought

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage has put some intervention measures in place to save wildlife from the effects of the drought that has ravaged the country for nearly two years, killing hundreds of natural species.

Wildlife PS Silvia Museiya said among the measures put in place include water trucking, buying hay for the animals and construction of small ponds and dams in order to preserve water for the animals.

Museiya was however quick to add that there was more that still needs to be done to save our wildlife and human life as the country is set to enter into another dry spell, starting this December to March 2023.

The PS was speaking while on a familiarization tour of the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI) in Naivasha Tuesday, which is a key wildlife and tourism training institution in the country.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) early last month reported that it had lost 205 jumbos, 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 51 buffalos, 49 Gravy’s zebras and 12 giraffes in the past nine months to the ravaging drought.

Parts of the country have experienced four consecutive seasons with inadequate rain in the past two years, which severely affected people and animals, including livestock.

The worst-affected ecosystems are home to some of Kenya’s most-visited national parks, reserves and conservancies, including the Amboseli, Tsavo and Laikipia – Samburu areas. 

Meanwhile, the PS has said the training institute is in dire need of Sh3.5 billion to refurbish its dilapidated infrastructure so as to be effective in its mandate of training and research.

Consequently, Museiya has appealed to the government and development partners to come in and support the Institute in revamping its infrastructure.

The PS reiterated the importance of the wildlife sector in promoting the socio-economic development nationally, regionally and globally, but regretted that the sector was facing numerous challenges ranging from the impacts of climate change, decreasing land for conservation, human-wildlife conflicts and inadequate financial resources for conservation programs.

The WRTI Chief Executive Officer Dr. Patrick Omondi said the institute was strategizing itself to be sole custodian on data on wildlife in the country through research so as to provide the Government and other partners’ accurate data on wildlife to inform policy decisions.

“We want to have one mega data base in this institute for the wildlife sector in this country instead of having the data scattered in various place,” Omondi said.

He said the institute and other partners carried out a research on the effect of drought on wildlife which the government released last month and a wildlife census which is being processed and will be released by the ministry soon.

Wildlife is a key component in the tourism sector in the country, which is the second greatest foreign exchange earner after agriculture. A report from the Tourism Ministry shows in 2021, travel and tourism contributed over Sh. 540 billion to Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The sector has however been adversely affected by climate change and other factors in the recent past such as the Covid -19 pandemic, which necessitated a global lockdown in 2020.

By Mabel Keya –Shikuku

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