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Wildlife census kicks off in Tana River County

The National Wildlife census commenced today in the Tana River County. The exercise will start in the lower Tana and will take 16 days.

Speaking, during a sensitization meeting with the Chiefs and Elders at a Hola hotel, the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Assistant Director, Coast Region, Lilian Ajuoga , said the Tana River County is home to two endangered and endemic monkeys.

“The census exercise will enable us to ascertain the exact number of Tana River Mangabey and Tana River Red Colobus monkeys. These two species are very important because they are endangered and endemic,’’ said Lilian Ajuoga.

She added that the exercise will assist KWS in the deployment of rangers and will also inform policy making at both the National and County levels.

KWS Principal Scientist, Dr. Omar Mohamed, urged Tana River communities to preserve their wildlife as their valued natural heritage in order to attract tourists and investment in the County.

Dr. Mohamed challenged the communities to stop whining about wildlife conflict in their areas, but to preserve their wildlife resource which has the potential to improve their lives economically.

Tana River Primate National Reserve was gazetted in 1976 it covers an area of 169 square kilometres. The County is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 57 mammal species.

“The County has eight primate species, including the critically endangered Tana River Red Colobus and Tana River Crested Mangabey, their population in the last census which was conducted in the year 2000 was 780 and 2609 respectively,’’ said Dr Stanislaus Kivai of the Institute of Primate Research (IPR).

Deputy County Commissioner, Evans Wendott, said the Tana River County has many wildlife species and it’s a collective responsibility between the government and communities to preserve them for future generations.

The County has in recent times witnessed an influx of elephants from Tsavo East, residents were dissuaded against building houses on wildlife migratory corridors.

Senior KWS Warden of Tana River County, Augustine Ajuoga, assured the chiefs and community elders that they are not after their land parcels but their aim is to count wildlife.

By Sadik Hassan

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