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Expanding Human Populations Threat to Wildlife Welfare

Expanding Human Populations Threat to Wildlife Welfare


A new research published in the British Journal of Zoology indicates shocking losses of six species in one of the world’s most visited wildlife sanctuaries- the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.

The study by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) headquartered in Kenya says the losses were as high as 95 percent for giraffes, 80 percent for warthogs, 76 percent for hartebeest and 67 percent for impala. The lead author of study, Joseph Ogutu explained: “the situation we documented paints a bleak picture and calls for urgent and decisive action if we want to save this treasure”. The phenomenon could herald disaster for the local tourism industry.

While stating that the study offers the best evidence that wildlife losses in the reserve are widespread and substantial, Ogutu cautioned that the trends are likely to increase as a result of the rapid expansion of human populations and settlements on lands adjacent to the reserve. The study lists the main reasons for the decline, which are the encroachment of wildlife grazing by the local communities and poaching for food and profit.

The ILRI study warns that retaliatory killings of wildlife that break down fences, damage crops, degrade water supplies or threaten livestock and humans is common and increasing in the ranchlands. The various forces threatening wildlife could have grave consequences for protecting game because, given the seasonal movements of animals in and out of the reserve, most of the wildlife in the region regularly graze outside the protected reserve.However, there is a gleam of hope. The Maasai Mara National Reserve generates significant revenue from tourism and with proper planning, it is possible to invest in evidence based approaches that can protect wildlife populations as well as cater for the welfare of local pastoral communities whose role in the conservation of this treasure is critical.

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