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Big plans for Kisumu as first boat race held
Date Published: 29 Nov, 2011
KWS Director, Julius Kipng'etich, blows the starting whistle at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary
Plans are underway for an East African boat race on Lake Victoria.
Kisumu Town East MP Hon Shakeel Shabbir announced this during inaugural Kisumu Impala Conservation Boat Race held in Lake Victoria at the weekend.
Kenya Wildlife Service Director Mr Julius Kipng’etich, who presided over the event, said next year’s boat race would include cultural tourism, especially dances and food exhibition to attract wider participation.
The two were speaking at the boat race where men paddlers from Usenge Beach and women paddlers from Ndere Island emerged winners. Both winning teams were both awarded Sh40, 000.
They were followed by men paddlers from Luanda K’Otieno Beach and women paddlers from Ndere Island, who were awarded Sh25,000 each.
The third position was taken up by men paddlers from Luanda K’Otieno Beach and women paddlers from Usenge Beach, who were given Sh15,000.
The three men’s and three women’s teams were part of 14 teams (eight men and six women teams with seven paddlers each) who qualified from earlier hits held in Kisumu, Luanda K’Otieno, Usenge and Ndere Island beaches in Kisumu and Siaya counties around Lake Victoria. Men covered 5km while women covered 3km.
The boat race was organised by the Kenya Wildlife Service in conjunction with stakeholders to conserve the rare sitatunga antelope found in Kisumu Impala Sanctuary by the shores of the lake.
The event was also attended by Central Nyanza Regional Commissioner Mr Arthur Osia, Kisumu Town East District Commissioner Mr Mabea Mogaka and Mr Daniel Okumu, the Lake Victoria Tourism Association chairman.
Others were investor Hon Jared Kangwana whose Monarch Investments’ 24-bed eco-lodge at the Kisumu Impala Sanctuary will be ready for occupation next month.
KWS plans to raise money to construct a 3-km perimeter wall fence around the sanctuary at an estimated cost of Sh28 million as well as create public awareness about the plight of the shy sitatunga and the importance of conserving wetlands.
Mr Kipng’etich called on the local community to conserve wetlands as habitats for the sitatunga as well as purifiers of water.
“Wetlands hold a lot of potential for bird watching tourism where Kenya attracts a mere 500,000 out of the global total of 7 million bird watching tourists. Yet the country lies in the global migratory path for many birds. Wetlands also act as water filters against pollutants like fertilisers from crop lands,” he said, citing King’wal Swamp in Nandi County as one area where the community had embraced the conservation and would soon reap the benefits.
He warned those cutting papyrus reeds from rivers and lake shores that they were destroying their own future.
Mr Kipng’etich said Lake Kanyaboli in Siaya County which was gazetted last year, would be officially launched next year.
He asked the local community to consider cultural tourism and home stays as provided in the Vision 2030 development blueprint.
During the boat race, tourism industry stakeholders showcased their products and activities as well as highlighted the potential of Kisumu and Siaya counties as tourism investment and attraction destinations.
Exhibitors included the Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Investment Authority, Equator Bottlers ltd, Municipal Council of Kisumu, The Star newspaper, Parkview Hotel and Apartments, Elsuco Tours and Travel, tour operators, Lake Victoria Tourism Association, Kenya Maritime Authority, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), Lake Paddlers Association, Homa Lime Company, Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA), Integritour, Kisumu Green Project and boat operators.
The profiling of the two counties’ tourism potential and promotion of less visited wildlife areas like Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is in line with Vision 2030 that seeks to make tourism a leading sector, making it among the best tourist destination in the world offering a high-end, diverse, exclusive and distinctive visitor experience.
FACT FILE ON KISUMU IMPALA SANCTUARY
- Kisumu Impala Sanctuary is located in Kisumu City along the eastern shores of Lake Victoria – on the way to Hippo Point.
- The 0.4 km sq facility was set up in the early 1970’s by the Kisumu Municipal Council and the Provincial Administration to take care of the impalas that used to roam about in town.
- It was gazetted as a National Sanctuary in 1992. The facility is divided into two parts namely, Impala “A” ---- 0.34sq km (40ha) and Impala “B”---- 0.06sq km (10.3ha) respectively.
- The sanctuary is also a refuge to other free ranging animals like monitor lizards, zebra, variety of birdlife, and hippo that graze during the night. In the enclosures are lions, leopard, jackal, bush buck, hartebeest, buffalos, Ostrich, hyena, cheetah, tortoises, guinea fowls and parrots in the aviary.
- The vegetation in Impala “A” is predominantly grassland, indigenous bush land/forest and wetland. Impala “B” harbours the wetland that is a home to the rare semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope. Impala “B” has no infrastructural development but is protected. Plans are underway to construct a perimeter wall fence to reinforce the protection of the endangered Sitatunga antelope.
- Kenya Wildlife Service branded the sanctuary in 2010 as “Lakeshore Walk with the Impalas” under a national programme aimed at giving a facelift to parks and reserves as important conservation areas and world class tourist destinations.
- As part of the branding, the sanctuary got a new gate, offices, ablution blocks, walk ways and animal enclosures. More animals were brought in to diversify tourist products and enhance visitor experience.
- The sanctuary’s revenue and visitor numbers have increased partly from the branding, among other initiatives. For instance, the sanctuary’s revenue has steadily risen from a low of Sh1.7 million in 2005; Sh3.8 in 2006; Sh5.15 in 2007; Sh5.2 million in 2008; Sh7.25 million in 2009 and Sh8.6 million in 2010. By September 2011, the sanctuary has collected Sh11 million. This represents a six-fold rise over five years.
- For visitor numbers, the sanctuary has seen a rise from 94,000 in 2005; 84,000 in 2006; 68,000 in 2007; 81,000 in 2008; 108,000 in 2009; 196,000 in 2010. By September 2011, 99,000 visitors had visited the sanctuary.
- The sanctuary is expensive to run as it uses a minimum of Sh700, 000 per month to feed the animals, which comes to an estimated Sh8.4 million per year over and above cage maintenance, animal treatment and campsite and picnic site maintenance costs.