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Sh10 million needed to save Sitatunga Antelope

Conservationists from Trans Nzoia County are targeting to raise more than Sh10 million that will be channeled towards conservation of Sitatunga antelope found in Saiwa swamp national park.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny with IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati at Saiwa Swamp national park before embarking on a 7 Kilometer Safari Walk of the park. Photo by Moses Wekesa.

The conservationists held a 7 kilometer nature walk Wednesday at Saiwa Swamp National Park dubbed Saiwa Safari Walk to conserve the endangered animal.

The coordinator of the Saiwa Safari Walk 2018 Paul Omena said the targeted amount is meant for capacity enhancement among conservationists at the Saiwa Swamp.

He explained that it will also be used for initiatives that will sensitize local communities to support Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) efforts in conservation and to support research in institutions of higher learning on how to mitigate on the factors affecting the Sitatunga population.

Omena noted that poaching, lack of conservation measures and human-wildlife conflict has been threatening the remaining 200 Sitatunga antelopes which are only found at Saiwa National Park in the whole world.

The park is visited by both International and domestic tourists.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny and IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati while trying to view the rare Sitatunga Antelope.Photo By Moses Wekesa.

Among those who participated in the Safari Walk were the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati and Cherangany Member of Parliament (MP) Joshua Kuttuny among other leaders.

The Saiwa Safari walk brought together partners from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), The Boma Hotels, KA Kurgat and Company Associates, The County government of Trans Nzoia, International Art Expo, Golf Hotel Kakamega, Saiwa Holidays and Sirwo Resort.

Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny said that human-wildlife conflict is still a challenge in conservation of the park that has forced some of the antelopes to escape from the park.

He promised that he will follow up with the relevant bodies to ensure that the park is protected. He also promised to set aside some money under the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) for the conservation of the park.

The MP, however, criticized the County government of Trans Nzoia for lack of interest in improving infrastructure in the game park even as the County Executive Committee member (CEC) in charge of tourism Aggrey Chemonges said Sh10 million has been set aside to improve the tourism sector in the county.

IEBC chairman urged all residents to take the initiative to ensure that rare species in the county are protected to attract more tourists.

On his part, the manager of Mt. Elgon Lodge Reuben Arugut said that Trans Nzoia has remained inactive despite having two National parks.

He urged the county and national governments to invest in the marketing of the two national game parks to attract more tourists from both the local and international scene.

The manager said they are in the process of renovating Mt. Elgon Lodge which was built in 1923  to offer decent accommodation to tourists  visiting the region.

By Moses Wekesa


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