Sitatunga: On the road to extinction

A female Sitatunga, a rare semi-aquatic antelope at Saiwa Swamp National Park in Trans-Nzoia County on June 21, 2016. PHOTO| JARED NYATAYA

What you need to know:

  • Mr Joel Kanda, a senior KWS official who served as the North Rift’s Chief Warden for 10 years, says efforts to protect the antelopes are fraught with challenges, notably encroachment on the animals’ habitat.
  • “Greedy farmers have illegally expanded their land to these animals’ habitats, leading to human-wildlife conflict,” he says. ­­­As a result, the animals sometimes eat the farmers crops, and get killed for it.
  • Last year, for instance, thousands of acres of King’wal Swamp in Nandi County, were set ablaze during the dry season by farmers who are determined  to convert the animals’ swampy habitat into farmland. 

The country stands to lose billions of shillings from tourists who visit the country every year to  see the semi-aquatic sitatunga. The animal, which is found in Trans-Nzoia, Nandi and Uasin Gishu counties, is threatened by both poachers — who believe its meat has medicinal and mystical powers — and encroachment on its habitat.

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