East Africa News

Conservationists are urging the Tanzanian government to stop plans to build a hydropower dam in the country’s Selous Game Reserve, saying the project could cause severe damage to the UNESCO World Heritage site, which is already threatened by widespread poaching.

The United Nations agency charged with protecting the world’s heritage, UNESCO, placed Selous Game Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2014.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is reported to have said that the Stiegler's Gorge dam will be constructed “come rain, come sun.”

The international conservation organisation WWF has, in a report, said that the hydropower dam threatens an important wetland as well as the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people who depend on fishing downstream.

WWF has launched an advocacy campaign that urges the Tanzanian government to protect Selous and to strengthen wildlife management in both the reserve and surrounding areas.

According to WWF, Selous has lost 90 percent of its elephants and nearly all of its critically endangered black rhinos to poachers since becoming a World Heritage site. Industrial projects have made it easier for poachers to access the park and to traffic illegal ivory.

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photo credit Robbie Labanowski.

The Ewaso Lions Project in Kenya has reported the arrival of four new males (who have manes!) in Samburu – the first time since 2008 that new lions have been seen in the area.

The lions originated from Lewa, through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, according to an article in Ewaso Lions April-June quarterly report.

They are Brand, Bick, Mwack and Sakilenye. Three of the lions were born in November 2013 to the same mother while the fourth was born in February 2014. The males left Lewa in February and headed towards Ngare Ndare before moving to Borana and the Mukogodo Forest.

“We are excited about this recent event as it means the lion population will not only grow, but the new blood is a welcome boost to Samburu’s lions,” said Shivani Bhalla, Founder and Executive Director, Ewaso Lions.

Ewaso Lions is a lion conservation project working in Samburu and Isiolo counties in northern Kenya.

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 A census of elephants in the Masai Mara ecosystem in May this year counted 2,493 elephants, a significant increase from the the 1,448 animals recorded in a similar survey in 2014, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) reported.

The 72.2 per cent increase is very good news considering the threat Mara elephants are under due to poaching for trophies and killing in incidents of human-elephant conflict. Migration from the Serengeti ecosystem could also have contributed to the high number of elephants recorded during the 2017 aerial survey.

Overall, there was an average elephant density of 0.21 elephant per square kilometre. A total of 45 elephant carcasses (26 very old; 18 old and 1 recent carcasses) were seen during the

survey, representing an overall carcasses ratio of 1.8 per cent for the Mara ecosystem.

A total of 9,466 buffalo were also counted compared to 7,542 recorded over the same season in 2014, representing a 26 per cent increase in their numbers. The distribution though remains the same.

Some 2,607 giraffes were seen in 2017 compared to 1,619 counted in 2010, which represents a 61 per cent increase.

More giraffes were observed in the Conservancy region (1,682 giraffes), while the Mara Triangle had the least number giraffes counted (143). The Dispersal area

recorded the second highest number of giraffes (490), while the total number of giraffes observed in the Mara Reserve was 292.

The results of 2017 show an increase in human activities within and around the protected areas. These include electric and plain wire fencing and tin-roofed households in the

ecosystem, which pose a threat to the wildlife habitat.

The aerial survey was supported by several partners including Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok County Government, World Wildlife Fund - Kenya, Tsavo Trust, and Olaro Conservancy.

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