Nature news

HR-DSC_0645Paul Udoto brings us the latest from KWS

More boots on the ground
A total of 592 new KWS rangers have been deployed for conservation duties after successfully completing six-months rigorous paramilitary training at the Law Enforcement Academy, Manyani, in Tsavo West National Park. Most conservation work is labour-intensive, with rangers having to physically manage parks and use air patrol to supplement their onerous tasks.

Google Maps on safari
Google Maps has gone on a groundbreaking virtual safari in Kenya. The partnership with Save the Elephants (STE) allows Internet users to take a walk through Samburu National Reserve in the heart of northern Kenya’s wilderness, where elephants are protected by STE, Samburu people, the Samburu County Government and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The Google Maps team explored 64 square miles of Samburu National Reserve’s roads in February 2015, photographing elephant, zebra, and leopard along the way. From aerial surveys to GPS collars, STE is one of the foremost elephant research organisations in the world. Primarily based in Samburu, STE conducts research and provides scientific insights on elephant behaviour, intelligence and movement. They work with global partners to apply their research to the long-term challenges of elephant conservation. According to STE, around 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory in Africa between 2010 and 2012. Google maps users can also ‘visit’ the Lewa conservancy and the DSWT Elephant Orphanage.

Vulnerable vultures
Six of Africa’s 11 vulture species are at higher risk of extinction following targeting by poachers, indiscriminate poisoning and use of their body parts in traditional medicine. The warning was issued in a BirdLife International report, which placed the birds on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. Yet vultures are nature’s garbage collectors, preventing the spread of disease and thereby directly protecting human health. About 90 per cent of the deaths of vultures in Africa are attributed to poisoning and trade in traditional medicines. Kenya has more than 1100 bird species, with eight endemics and 39 globally threatened. Kenya’s 60 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) cover a total of 5.7 million hectares or about 10 per cent of the land area.