New effort to save the endangered Roan antelope at Ruma reserve

A Roan antelope in the grasslands of South Africa. [iStockphoto]

Homa Bay County has stepped up efforts to save the Roan antelope whose population is rapidly decreasing across the globe.

The antelope is among the tourist attractions at Ruma National Park in Homa Bay. The government has been working on efforts to conserve it.

The devolved unit has embraced sports in its conservation efforts of the antelope and to market Homa Bay as a key tourist destination.

Preparations for the Roan Antelope Half Marathon are in top gear. The event will take place in Ruma National Park today and tomorrow.

Participants are required to register prior to the event.

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga presided over registration at Homa Bay County Stadium where more than 300 participants had been registered by Wednesday morning.

At least 1,000 participants are expected at the event.

Wanga who was accompanied by her Deputy Oyugi Magwanga, Homa Bay Speaker Julius Gaya, County Secretary Benard Muok and executives said the event is aimed at raising awareness on the need to conserve roan antelopes.

“The county government is working round the clock for the success of this event. Our main purpose is to enhance conservation of roan antelopes,” Wanga said.

In Kenya, Roan antelopes are only found in Ruma National Park.

Speaking during the registration, Wanga said the event is going to enhance tourism.

“The Roan antelope is a rare species of wildlife. In Kenya, they are found in Homa Bay County only,” Wanga said.

She said the event is significant for economic growth of the county.

Wanga said the event will also involve a game drive on Friday.

Domestic and foreign tourists will camp in the park on Friday night.

At the camp, the tourists will be entertained by various artistes as well as enjoy bonfires.

On Saturday morning, participants who have registered for the marathon will compete in a 21km race in the park. During the marathon, they will be running around the sanctuary set aside for roan antelopes, enabling them to see the rare wildlife species.

After the race, the winners will be awarded.

Tourism Executive Polycarp Okombo said the initiative will improve the income of the locals through promotion of business activities.

“My department also focuses on wealth creation through this event. We have therefore made it an annual event,” Okombo said.

Kenya Wildlife Service’s Assistant Director in charge of Ruma National Park David Oyugi said they are constructing a sanctuary for the Roan antelopes.

He said the population of roan antelopes in the park has increased from 12 when the sanctuary was established in 2021 to 25.

“We got more roan antelopes from Tanzania. The event will enable us to get resources for improving infrastructure for conserving roan antelopes besides monitoring activities,” Oyugi said.