The Tsavo National Park, home to thousands of animals and a prime tourist attraction, is on the verge of ecosystem collapse, experts have warned.

Water sources are drying up, habitats lost and human-wildlife is rampant amid declining biodiversity in a degraded ecosystem, according to a news report in the Star newspaper.

Tsavo Heritage Foundation co-founder and executive chairman Jacob Kipongoso said on July 20 that the park environment is at a tipping point.

“If we are not careful, in the next five, six to seven years things will be worse,” Mr. Kipongoso told reporters. “Voi River [is] dead, Bura River runs for a month during the rains, Lake Jipe, which used to be permanent, is [now} seasonal — it has lost 10 metres of water height in the last 10 years,” he said.

Kipongoso said some rivers, which are sources of water to the Tsavo West National Park, could dry up in 10-15 years.

“The moment we start losing animals and biodiversity to drought it takes five, 10, 15 to 20 years to reverse that process. If we start losing 20 elephants a week due to drought, you cannot stop it tomorrow. Rehabilitating national parks is the solution,” he said.

The large amount of money used to build the Standard Gauge Railway, which runs through through the park, could rehabilitate Tsavo West National Park, Kipongoso said, adding that park is more valuable to the country than the railway.

“I’m yet to hear one presidential candidate who has spent an hour speaking about environment. They only speak about the six-way highway to Mombasa, the standard gauge railway. We may need it but we need life more,”he added.

Conservationists have called for a round-table meeting with governors of the counties that border Tsavo to discuss how to rehabilitate the vast park.

“We will have decision makers and the community to discuss how we can save Tsavo, we can reverse all this and get all water flowing. They did it in Ethiopia and we can do it in Kenya,” Kipongoso said.

Taita Taveta Governor, John Mruttu, welcomed the idea, saying it requires collaboration. His administration has encouraged residents to plant trees to increase forest cover and save drying rivers.

Mruttu also complained that the national government was failing to compensating residents who crops were destroyed by wild animals.

Source: The Star

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