Rapid animal decline threatens Kenya’s game tourism business

A giraffe runs in Amboseli National park, Kenya August 26, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/File Photo

Kenya’s game-dominated tourism faces a bleak future as the population of wild animals that attract visitors to the country continue to decline rapidly.

Elephants cross the road in the Kruger National Park situated 60 kilometres east of Nelspruit, November 24, 2009. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

About 40,400 animals that were on records by end of 2016 were not available in 2017, latest data indicates, highlighting a trend that should also worry conservationists.

In 2017, some 2.3 million visitors entered the various national parks and game reserves with the Nairobi mini orphanage hosting the highest number at 367,671 down from 390,385 in 2016.

The latest statistical abstract released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows populations of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and ostriches have declined rapidly in recent months.

The 2,000 reduction in the number of elephants recorded in the year reverses a growth trend observed after 2015 when their population climbed 6,200 to hit the 22,000 in 2016.

Also recording a steep drop was the Grant’s gazelle whose population fell to 106,500 from 112,100 in 2016. The species has been experiencing a gradual increase since 2013 when the numbered 111,700, according to official data.

The zebras too had their decline worrying with 5,500 Burchell’s zebra dying and another 300 deaths of the Gravy’s Zebra recorded in the year captured.

Close to 3,000 impala died while the population of Thomson’s gazelles dropped by 2,100.

Wildebeest, which make the famous migration at the Maasai Maara every year had their population cut by 12,000 to 228,000 in 2016.

They were 276,000 in 2013 making the steepest drop in population in half a decade.

There were 1,500 fewer ostriches in the sampled animals.

In August 2018, a Kenyan scientist based in Germany sounded the alarm over declining wildlife populations in Kenya attributed mainly to human-wildlife conflicts and climate change.

Dr. Joseph Ogutu, a senior statistician in the Bioinformatics unit of the University of Hohenheim in Germany said the Thomson’s gazelle, warthog and oryx among others are under severe threat, and they have declined by more than 70 percent.