Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has constituted a national Sable antelope conservation task force to counter the continued decrease of Sable antelope numbers in the country.
This was said during the launch of a three day formulation of Sable Antelope strategy workshop on Monday May 14, 2012 by KWS senior scientist, Dr. Charles Musyoki, who was representing the KWS director Mr. Julius Kipng’etich.
Speaking at Pwani University, Kilifi, Dr. Musyoki illustrated that in Kenya alone, the sable antelope has declined considerably in its former range in the last 30 years and are only found in Shimba Hills National Reserve. Currently, the population is estimated to be 75 individuals. This is an alarming decline compared to 265 individuals in 1960.
Formulating the task force was seen as an approach in recognition of the threats facing the remaining population of sable antelopes in Shimba Hills. KWS with its partners; Larfarge Ecosystems, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary, Baobab Trust, Friends of Tsavo, Shimba Forest Guides Association (SHIFOCA), Shimba Hills Community Forest Association (SHICOFA), Shimba Lodge and Eden Wildlife Trust found it prudent to initiate a conservation planning process for them.
Sable antelopes are on the priority list of nationally endangered species in Kenya and KWS is keen on seeing that a national conservation strategy is developed to guide all efforts to conserve the species for posterity. They have been eliminated from large areas of their former range due to a combination of factors that include diseases, predation, drought-caused food shortages, habitat loss and degradation compounded by inter-species competition.
Dr. Musyoki appreciated the efforts of the national task force in championing the process of developing a national conservation strategy for Sable antelopes. Being the flagship species for conservation in Shimba Hills National Reserve, Dr. Musyoki further challenged the task force during the planning process to explore the feasibility of establishing additional sable antelope conservation areas to complement Shimba Hills. In addition, he further outlined the areas of strategic focus in sable antelope conservation as ecological management, community involvement, enhancing security, establishing additional sable antelope conservation areas, policy and legislative considerations.
Participants of the workshop were urged to discuss key features of the strategy, specific challenges and risk factors facing sable antelopes. The workshop developed a vision and strategic objectives for the strategy which were as a result of stakeholder identified threats to the conservation of the sable antelope.
The workshop which has been funded by the World Bank seeks to integrate trans-boundary conservation with Tanzania will enhance regional partnership in sable antelope conservation.