Africa in the news: Wildlife, Horn of Africa, and infrastructure updates
Last Friday, Kenya began conducting its first-ever national wildlife census. The $2.3 million conservation project aims to improve knowledge about wildlife population distribution and sizes, identify threats to the animals, and develop conservation strategies to protect them. While Kenya’s most vulnerable species such as elephants and rhinos, are counted regularly, the project will be the first systematic counting of other rare animals across the country. Researchers anticipate collecting data on wildlife in Kenya’s less populated and less frequented northern parks where cataloged wildlife remains limited. The inauguration of Kenya’s national wildlife census comes amid notable declines in wildlife populations caused by, among other things, the expansion of human settlements, climate change, and poaching.
Last week, South Africa’s Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment announced that it will outlaw captive lion breed for economic gain, citing a ministry-appointed review panel’s conclusion that captive lion breeding risks wild lion conservation efforts. The captive lions are bred for hunting, tourist interactions (cub petting), and the sale of “lion derivatives” such as bones. The ministry speculates that ending captive lion breeding will benefit South Africa’s wild hunting industry, offsetting initial concerns within the country’s hunting industry. The hunting industry generates approximately $250 million per annum and supports 17,000 workers.
In related news, Zimbabwe plans to reintroduce rhinos to its wildlife parks for the first time in 30 years. Gonarezhou Park, the country’s second-largest wildlife park and part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park—a transnational nature reserve between South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park, and Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou—is set to be home to an undisclosed number of reintroduced rhinos.
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