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Kenya: Urgent Translocation of the Lelwel Hartebeest

Lelwel HartebeestAt the close of 2008, squatters who had been evicted from the Mount Kenya and Aberdare forests about two decades ago in Kenya were allocated plots a section, Sector D, of the expansive Solio Ranch in Laikipia. The 15,500 acres Sector D is, however, home to 480 Lelwel hartebeest ; 600 plains zebra; 210 impala; 1,020 Thomson’s gazelle; 36 oryx; and 41 eland.

Elodie Sampéré, writing in the new Lewa Wildlife Conservancy blog at WildlifeDirect, emphasizes on the importance of the Solio population of the Lelwel Hartebeest saying,

There are only about 1,000 Lelwel hartebeest left in Kenya. They are only found in two places: (1) Ruma National Park, where only a few dozen animals remain. and (2) a population of approximately 1,000 individuals in Laikipia District. This Laikipia population has been shown to be genetically diverse. About 75% of this population is found on Solio Ranch.

The Lelwel heartbeeste is listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of 2008 as the global population has declined from 285,000 in the 1980s to less than 70,000 today.

As the human settlers start to move into Sector D, the threat of poaching and bushmeat hunting will increase exponentially. That is why the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service have been translocating these rare antelopes out of Solio's Sector D. The first wave of squatters has arrived and the translocation has now become an urgent matter.

To date, they have already moved 245 hartebeest; 140 plains zebra and 25 impalas. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has now launched an appeal to help raise some funds to translocate the rest of the wildlife. You can follow respond to this appeal in their new blog.

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