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KWS plans to save endangered semi-aquatic antelope

20 August 2013, 17:47 Robert Chepkwony

Nakuru - The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director William Kibet Kiprono has said plans are underway to conserve the endangered species of semi-aquatic antelopes locally known as sitatungas.

According to Kiprono, the endangered species are majorly found in Uasin-Gishu and Nandi counties, specifically King'wal swamp, around Kesses, Saiwa swamp and some parts of the former Western province.

In an interview with media at a Nakuru hotel Monday, Kiprono said that his office is engaging the county governments in the mentioned regions towards securing of a bigger space for the wetland animal.

“We at the KWS head office, apart from engaging the county government, have put up plans to establish swamps in our conservancies for the wetland animals,” he said.

“We are also engaging the communities living around these areas in sensitising them not to poach the antelopes, a menace which has been rampant in the area due to growing population," added the KWS director.

Kiprono further disclosed that his office has given Nandi/Bonjoge National Reserve warden Joel Kanda's office the go ahead to organise a marathon to raise funds towards conservation of the wetland animals.

Speaking to the media on phone, Kanda who heads the conservancy that hosts King'wal swamp, which is very important water catchment area for River Yala and home to the threatened semi-aquatic antelopes in Kenya, confirmed that they have made some progress as far as organisation of the marathon is concerned.

Kanda says despite the communities living adjacent to the swamp using it for various uses, it faces enormous challenges which include encroachment, digging for brick making, fire, siltation, pollution and lack of clear boundaries.

"The communities claim ownership and there is nobody or any structure to promote sustainable use. In view of this, the rare aquatic sitatunga antelopes in King’wal Swamp face extinction threat if conservation measures are not comprehensively promoted," said Kanda.

The warden said that a management committee has put up plans to organise a race that targets to raise USD 12 million (about KES 1 billion) for development of eco-tourism activities, setting up of management infrastructure, recruitment and training of community rangers who will be patrolling the swamp to prevent poaching of the antelopes, fencing of the swamp to control human-wildlife conflicts, purchase of vehicles among other other conservation-related uses.

Kiprono on his part said that incorporating sports in conservation of the endangered species of antelopes would bear fruits, as it has been successful with the Rhino conservation annual event.

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