Kenya launches recovery plan for lion, spotted hyena

A spotted hyena. (Photo: Joanne Goldby / Creative Commons)
A spotted hyena is seen in Kenya in August, 2010. (Photo: Joanne Goldby / Creative Commons)

Kenya on Thursday launched a recovery plan for lions and hyenas to help sustain their viable populations in the country.

Najib Balala, Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary said the second edition of the lion and spotted hyena Recovery and Action Plan addresses complex threats faced by the two carnivores in a holistic and collaborative manner.

“This aims for the long-term vision of sustaining viable populations of lions and spotted hyenas in healthy ecosystems as a world heritage valued by the people of Kenya,” Balala said in a statement issued after the launch of the plan in Maasai Mara National Reserve.

He said the Recovery and Action plan was developed through a consultative planning process and in accordance with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) and Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) guidelines.

“The planning process was participative, transparent and informed by the best available science,” he said, noting that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) together with partners initiated the process of surveying lions in diverse ecosystems using a standardized method.

He also noted that results from the surveys have provided more accurate estimates of lions in the country, saying Kenya is the only country in Africa that has undertaken such a massive survey of lions inside and outside the key protected area ecosystems.

Balala said in future no structures should be put up in protected areas across the country without approval from his ministry, noting that wildlife data should be handled well and that only the national government will deal with such data to avoid confusion and misrepresentation.

Balala said lack of proper planning had led to increased cases of human-wildlife conflict but cautioned communities against taking the law into their hands by killing wildlife.

Lion and spotted hyena are two of Kenya’s most iconic but threatened predators.

The lion is a charismatic large mammal and is revered in cultures across the world. The spotted hyena, while less well-known and revered than the lion, can be found in nearly every location a lion can be found, and threats to their survival are closely linked.

Both species are archetypes of the large mammal community in sub-Saharan Africa, a community that supports a rich and vibrant tourism economy across the region, driving both local and national economic growth.

Fred Sego, principal secretary for the State Department of Wildlife, said the Recovery and Action plan recognizes the threats facing both species and prescribes elaborate measures for their recovery.

Sego said among the objectives of the plan is working with communities, consolidation of efforts among stakeholders, the establishment of population status and distribution for the adoption of conservation units.

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