2021 KWS National Wildlife Census Report Reveals Encouraging Results on Conservation Efforts of Endemic Species in Kenya
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has just released the 2021 national Wildlife Census report, which gives a detailed review of the conservation status of Kenya’s threatened wildlife species. The Nation Wildlife Census covers 58 national parks and game reserves as well as community conservancies. Included in the count are both terrestrial and marine mammals, birds, and endangered primates.
The Endangered species in Kenya are part of the biodiversity that offers various environmental goods and services. According to a 2009 report by NEMA (National Environment Management Authority), Kenya’s biodiversity assets include; 7,000 plants, 25,000 invertebrates, 1100 birds, 315 mammals, 191 reptiles, 180 freshwater fish, 692 fish, 88 amphibians, and about 2,000 species of fungi and bacteria.
Wildlife Population Abundance and Distribution
The goal of the KWS sample census was to establish a national baseline of wet season wildlife population status and distribution in Kenya, and more specifically, to determine the wildlife population abundance and distribution. It also sought to identify the threats to conservation, establish a wildlife database and data portal, suggest strategies for effective wildlife conservation, and provide data and information to prepare the national status report.
‘Kenya’s heritage of natural beauty and scenic splendor is made infinitely richer because of our diverse wildlife. Across the globe, our nation is renowned for our rich bio-diversity that spans air, water, and land; natural wealth that makes us a conservation and tourism destination second to none.” Kenyan President, HE Uhuru Kenyatta, said.
He acknowledged the effects of climate change and human activities as a threat to Kenya’s zoological and botanical habitats.
“It is against that backdrop that the inaugural nationwide wildlife census has been conducted. This national endeavor is a historic opportunity to develop an annotated inventory of our wildlife recourses,” he added.
Climate Change, Human Population Threaten Wildlife, and Biodiversity
Based on the 2019 human Census, the Kenyan population has grown to 47.6 million. There’s also increased demand for land for agriculture, settlement, and infrastructure with the increased human population. This is a direct threat to sustainable wildlife and biodiversity conservation in the country. Therefore, understanding wildlife abundance and distribution concerning these developments is key to initiating habitat conservation actions.
It’s also hard to ignore climatic changes that have led to reduced rainfall and increased drought, negatively impacting specific wildlife species populations.
The methods employed to carry out the national wildlife census by Kenya Wildlife Service included aerial total method and drone technology. In forest areas, they used the dung count method and ground and waterhole census. The exercise also involved digitizing all the collected scientific data, preparation, and compilation of publications and databases.
From the endangered wildlife list, the exercise found 150 Bongo, 842 White Rhino, 2,589 Lions, 36,280 Elephants, 1,160 Cheetah, 2,649 Grevy’s Zebra, 473 Sitatunga, 865 Wild Dogs.
The report also shows that Kenya is developing a white Rhino Conservation and Management Action Plan for the first time. It acknowledges that securing the future of the black rhino subspecies in Kenya is of critical importance.
The KWS national wildlife census report is a noble cause since wildlife underpins our survival. However, it’s clear that unsustainable production and consumption systems are driving wildlife to the brink of extinction, further leading to overexploitation, increased demand for energy, land, and water, wildlife habitat degradation, and loss of migration corridors.