Poaching leads to drop in tourists

By Renson Mnyamwezi

Poaching is to blame for the decline of tourists at the Tsavo Conservation Area.

The are received about 247,980 international tourists last year compared to 369,370 the previous year.

Kenya Wildlife Service officials said Tsavo East National Park received 271,373 visitors in 2011 and 176,987, last year. Tsavo West National park received 98,000 visitors in 2011 and last year about 71,000.

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Senior Warden Michael Wanjau said there was a decrease in the number of tourists visiting the Tsavo ecosystem in last year, an issue that had adversely affected revenue collection.

Tsavo has exceptional resource value with the ecosystem serving as a major source of revenue and employment to the people.

The warden attributed the decrease in number of tourists to politics in this year’s general election.

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“One year before election there has always been that problem of decrease in the number of tourists visiting Tsavo ecosystem. The fear of violence and travel adversaries force most tourists to cancel their trips to the country,” said Mr Wanjau.

Others factors contributing to the decline include persistent poaching and livestock incursion in game parks. Tourists have been complaining of seeing more livestock in the park than wildlife, the KWS officials said.

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At the same time ecological destructive activities like charcoal burning and overgrazing in Tsavo has forced out of the park the big five – elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions among other endangered species.

Wanjau said majority of the tourists come from America, Britain, Japan and China. 

Addressing Taita-Taveta ranchers at a sensitisation and awareness workshop held at Nanyuki town yesterday, Wanjau noted that tourism was a driver of socio-economic development and should be embraced as a land use option for the rain-fed agriculture.

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Poaching Tourists Tsavo