Five of Kenya’s iconic species are critically endangered

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Kenya’s first national wildlife census reveals dangerously few specimens of several iconic species, including the black rhino.

The results of Kenya’s first national wildlife census are not encouraging. The process, which took three months and cost more than $ 2 million, found that five species are “critically endangered”. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this designation corresponds to the highest level of risk, indicating that the animals have a 50% probability of extinction within ten years or three generations. Nine other species were classified as “endangered”.

Kenya has released the results of its first national wildlife census © Sutirta Budiman / Unsplash

Kenya’s List of Critically Endangered Species

  1. Tana River Mangabey, with 1,650 specimens
  2. Black rhinoceros, with 897 specimens
  3. Hirola, with 497 specimens
  4. Sable Antelope, with 51 specimens
  5. Roan antelope, with 15 specimens

The list of endangered species

  1. the elephant
  2. Lion
  3. cheetah
  4. White rhinoceros
  5. Bongo
  6. Grévy’s Zebra
  7. Wild dog
  8. Nubian giraffe
  9. Sitatunga
endangered species, kenya
The number of African lions has fallen by 90% in a century © Geran de Klerk / Unsplash

What are the main threats to these animals?

The spotted hyena and kudu (large and small) are considered “vulnerable”. There are also two notable protected species – the Maasai ostrich and the Somali ostrich – and others which are fortunately designated as ‘less concern’, such as the hippo, buffalo and common zebra.

According to the report written by the Kenya Wildlife Service in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the most serious threats facing Kenya’s wildlife are population growth and urbanization, habitat loss caused by deforestation and construction of infrastructure, climate change and the scarcity of resources, resulting fires and poaching.

urbanization, kenya
Urbanization in Kenya Kenya is reducing wildlife habitats © Murad Swaleh / Unsplash

A “whistle” more than an alarm bell

Even nature reserves have not been spared. Minister of Tourism Najib balala expressed concern about the shrinking of uncontaminated areas that are home to Kenya’s rich wildlife heritage. He also said on Twitter that he was happy with the anti-poaching programs the country is implementing. In fact, these programs have led to an increase in the number of elephants.

Continuing down this path is vital to avoid isolating wildlife in limited pockets of protected areas or, worse yet, losing these wonderful species forever. The census, rather than sounding like a wake-up call, should rather be a starting whistle in the game for the salvation of these animals.

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