Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has finished a week-long wildlife census in Maasai Mara ecosystem to establish the population, distribution, migration trends of the wild animals.
Narok County Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Senior Warden, Mr Richard Chepkwony, told KNA during an interview that KWS in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Training and Research Institute undertook the census, adding that the data collected was now being processed to help establish the true population of the wildlife, their distribution and trends.
He said the Report will be ready at a later date, however, he pointed that unlike in the previous censuses in which the exercise centred on the ‘big five’, all animals were factored in the latest process.
“We used to narrow down on only the ‘big five’ such as the jumbos and rhinos, this year`s census which was also carried out nationally in all national parks, game reserves and conservancies targeted all wildlife in the wild in order to establish their status,” he said.
Chepkwony said the exercise whose theme was; ‘Count to conserve’ was aimed at not only determining the wildlife population and distribution and the population trends over time, but also aimed at identifying threats to wildlife conservation, management in the country`s landscape and recommend strategies for effective wildlife conservation and management.
“This exercise will help us to establish the state and position of our wildlife and enable the service to direct the necessary resources towards dealing with the issues affecting various wildlife species,” Chepkwony said.
The Mara ecosystem is the fourth most important habitat for one of the big five, namely the jumbo after Amboseli, Tsavo and Samburu.
The census will also help the service determine the level of poaching of the endangered wildlife species and make relevant decisions on how to curb the menace.
Narok County is known worldwide due to its famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve with its spectacular wildebeest migration from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Maasai Mara and has been touted as the eighth wonder of the world, attracting thousands of tourists to the country each year between July and September to see this spectacular migration.
Narok County largely depends on tourism as over 60 per cent of its revenue comes from tourism. The Maasai Mara brings in the bulk of this revenue which earns an estimated Sh10 billion from tourism each year.
The County is home to thousands of wildlife, including the big five in the famous Maasai Mara and other Wildlife conservancies in the county.
Over 300,000 visitors visit Maasai Mara each year bringing in this much required revenue, but due to the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic, the tourism sector has been adversely affected with thousands of people losing their jobs in the sector.
By Mabel Keya –Shikuku