To all my Zebra and Wildebeest readers:
RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!
Kenya relocates thousands of animals to game park
By TOM MALITI, Associated Press Writer Tom Maliti, Associated Press Writer
SOYSAMBU, Kenya – Kenyan authorities on Wednesday began a plan to restore the predator-prey balance in one of the country’s premier game parks after a recent drought — by moving thousands of zebras and wildebeests closer to the lions.
As the sun rose over the 44,000-acre Soysambu Conservancy, a herd of dozens of terrified zebras stampeded as a helicopter buzzed overhead, herding them into a funnel-like trap and into waiting trucks. After three trips, the helicopter had helped capture 88 zebras. Earlier in the week, 49 were herded. At the end of a three-week operation, the Kenya Wildlife Service aims to relocate 4,000 zebras from different parts of the country to Amboseli National Park. In March, after the wildebeests have finished giving birth, the service plans to move 3,000 of them to the same park. The more fortunate animals will enjoy the environs of Amboseli, a key sanctuary for animals in southwestern Kenya during the dry season because it usually has pasture and water when surrounding areas are dry.
The less fortunate ones will end up in the stomachs of the park’s hungry lions, who have been forced by drought to hunt the goats and cattle kept by the nearby Maasai herdsmen. “We have been hearing reports of a few carcasses (of livestock) found each day,” said Charles Musyoki, a senior scientist at the Kenya Wildlife Service. “When we move the zebras and wildebeests we will now be increasing the number and thereby making them available to the carnivores and this will make the carnivores reduce their dependence on livestock (for food),” Musyoki said. Dr. Frances Gakuya of the Kenya Wildlife Services says the relocation process will cost 100 million shillings ($1.3 million), which will go toward financing transport to and from Amboseli as well as the upkeep of the 22-member team working to move the animals. Amboseli is among the top revenue earners of Kenya’s more than 40 national parks and reserves. Musyoki said the decline in Amboseli’s zebra and wildebeest populations has been as high as 90 percent compared to a peak recorded in 2007. That year there were an estimated 10,000 zebras. He said that when KWS scientists did a count on Feb. 6 there were 982. Similarly in 2007, there were 7,100 wildebeests compared to 143 on Feb. 6, Musyoki said. He said such a devastating drought has never been recorded before in Amboseli and elders in surrounding areas have told him they do not remember anything like it. “We’ve never seen such drastic climate in recent times,” Musyoki said.
As Woody Allen says, “The lion may lie down with lamb, but only the lion gets a good nights sleep.”