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Efforts to protect the rare 'Sitatunga' antelope

Updated Thursday, August 12th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3

By TITUS TOO

The Kenya Wildlife Service ( KWS) will develop a national conservation strategy, which targets at improving the population of a rare aquatic species of antelopes –Sitatunga.

The strategy, which will kick off in a month’s time, will see the population of the antelopes currently found in only two swamps, increased to national level.

Mr Joel Kanda, the KWS chief warden in Nandi, said the service would use species management approach to enhance the number of antelopes and also boost tourism in the country.

The approach will address challenges facing the antelopes inhabiting some swamps in Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Yalla and Dunga in Nyanza.

“In some areas, encroachment of swamps for farming activities has adversely affected the habitat of the antelopes hence reducing their numbers,” said Kanda.

Community involvement

The official lauded Community Based Organizations (CBOs) in Nandi, which he said, had teamed up with KWS and other stakeholders in protecting environment and the Sitatunga antelopes.

Speaking to The Standard on Thursday, Kanda said destruction of wetlands for farming during the dry seasons had tremendously reduced due to sensitization campaigns carried out by the CBOs.

He also praised UK-based Rufford foundation which had made donations to assist in conservation efforts.

With the recent maintenance of Nandi / Kisumu road, Kanda said, the region had been opened for western tourism.

Kanda said most tourists visiting the western and Nyanza parts of the country often used the route hence residents along Kingwal swamp stood to benefit if they protect Sitatunga.

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