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The State has rolled out a programme to recovery of the endangered roan antelope species at Ruma National Park in Homa Bay. The recovery strategy is meant to save the antelopes whose population is under threat of extinction at the park.
Currently the number of the antelopes stands at 12 only in the park. Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala, PS Fred Sigor and CAS Joseph Boinet on Tuesday led in the rollout of the programme when the country marked World Wildlife Day.
“The country has also lost some wildlife animals like rose child giraffe and zebra to tsetsefly,” he said.
Balala said in the strategic plan, the government plans increase the number to 50 antelopes by 2030. He said they are keen to deal with issues that threaten the increase of the animal in the park. “The government would ensure there is no poaching, fight wild bush fires and protect the antelope species in the park,” Balala said.
Other leaders who present included the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General John Waweru, Homa Bay Governor Cyprian Awiti and his Deputy Hamilton Orata, Ndhiwa MP Martin Owino and Homa Bay county
commissioner Yatich Kipkemei. In the past, roan antelope occupied large areas of southern Kenya, and other areas around Mount Elgon and the Cherangani Hills. According to Balala, there were about 200 roan antelopes in 1970. The CS also attributed the population decrease to encroachment of wild animal habitat, pests and diseases.
The plan is expected to work with a set of objectives and activities to address animal security, population and habitat management, community Involvement, education and awareness and coordination.
“Let residents stop all those activities that contribute to the decline in the population of the animal. The government will create a buffer zone in all national parks to protect wild animals from attacks,” the CS said.
The government has identified threats facing a number of wild animals and come up with required interventions to ensure effective conservation and management.
“Tourism should not be about the Maasai Mara and the Tsavo National parks. Ruma is also an important park that should be protected” Balala said.
Sigor warned that suspected poachers will be arrested charged. “The minimum of jail terms one would serve after convicted to poaching is five years,” Sigor said According to government, the country has 33 mammals, 28 avian and 356 plant species whose survival is under threat. The endangered species in the county include rhinos which are 1414, gravy zebra (2400), rose child giraffe (625), gravy zebra (2400).
Some of the threats to these animals are contributed by climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, illegal wildlife trade and human-wildlife conflict associated with land-use changes. Balala said KWS is collaboration with other organizations to plant 200,000 trees across the country to promote wildlife conservation and sustain biodiversity.
At Ruma, the CS waived entry fee at the park over the weekend.
He said this is meant to promote the little known park. “KWS will advertise for establishment of a hotel at Ruma National Park to attract tourists,” he said.
Awiti said it will engage KWS to improve the condition of roads around the park. The Governor directed roads department officers to provide machinery to improve roads around the park. “My government uses the roan antelope as one of the features in its emblem. We’re going to involve in protecting the park,” Awiti said.