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Taita Taveta County seeks partners to start 10,000 acre wildlife conservancy
Date Published: 10 Feb, 2014
KWS Head of species Dr. Charles Musyoki receives Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu at Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge
The Taita Taveta County Government is seeking partners to start its own 10,000 acre wildlife conservancy in Bachuma area in Tsavo to tap into tourism revenues and improve the local community's livelihoods.
The county government owns the 10, 000 acres of land in Bachuma initially meant for livestock production. The parcel will be transformed to both a livestock multiplication centre as well as wildlife conservation.
Taita Taveta Governor John Mruttu announced this Tuesday ( February 4, 2014) while presiding over the 2014 dry season trans-boundary Tsavo Mkomazi elephant and large mammals census at the Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge tallying centre.He said plans to set up the conservancy were further evidence of his county government's commitment to conservation. "We are committed to conservation as this is our heritage and one of our major natural resources." Mr Mruttu added: "The census is very crucial in planning county natural resource management and in identifying workable strategies for the good of the County Government and Kenya at large." The Governor was speaking at the official flag off of the census that
will cover seven counties in the Tsavo ecosystem namely Taita Taveta, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, Kitui, Makueni and Kajiado as well as Mkomazi national park in Tanzania.
"My Government is committed to wildlife conservation. The issue is resource sharing and mitigation against human wildlife conflict. These are the issues that we must address to make conservation and the Tsavo ecosystem sustainable. He noted that the new Wildlife Act would help to address some of these outstanding issues and pledged to partner with KWS in carrying out civic education in every sub-location in the county.
This year's census will cover 48,656 square kilometers and starts in Mkomazi in Tanzania on Thursday morning. A total of 130 experts in park management, ecology, GIS, aircraft management and flying are taking part in the exercise that will cost Ksh 22 million. Five aircraft from KWS and 11 others from conservation partners are involved in the census. The trans-boundary Kenya-Tanzania exercise with the slogan "Trumpet and Be Counted" is part of the Kenya @50 celebrations, which have been marked since December 12 last year. Officials from Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) are also involved in the census.
Aerial counts of large mammals in Tsavo ecosystem have been carried out since the 1960's. These counts have provided vital information to policy makers and park managers, facilitating sound management of elephants in the ecosystem. The decline of poaching and increase of elephant population have resulted in other management and conservation challenges.
The 2014 dry season census aims at monitoring of elephants and other
large mammals in Tsavo ecosystem by closely and accurately monitoring
the status and trends. The specific objectives include
- To establish the current elephant and other large mammals population size and distribution and compare these results with the results of past aerial counts.
- To determine the number and distribution of elephant carcasses.
- To understand the distribution of elephants and other large mammals in relation to distribution of water sources.
- To map human activities inside and outside the protected areas (e.g. logging, settlements, farming, and charcoal burning).
- To document the distribution and numbers of livestock in relation to elephants and other large mammals in the ecosystem.
- Interpret the information obtained and deduce sound management decisions for the continued existence of wildlife in this fragile ecosystem
Currently, Tsavo ecosystem has the largest single sub-population of elephants in Kenya. Therefore, it is important to continue to monitor the population of elephants and other large mammals in the ecosystem to provide the long term data require for decision making.