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Kenya rounds up prey for national park's starving lions

Von: abc (abc@123.cl) [Profil]
Datum: 11.02.2010 03:15
Message-ID: <20100211-021544.227.0@abc.shawnews.vc.shawcable.net>
Newsgroup: alt.animals.lion alt.animals.felines.lions alt.animals alt.animal
SOYSAMBU CONSERVANCY - Kenyan game rangers on Wednesday began rounding
up thousands of zebras to be moved to a reserve where starving lions
have been attacking livestock.

The spectacular nationwide operation, launched in Soysambu conservancy
by the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), is due to last until the end of
the month in what will go down as one of Africa’s largest animal
translocations yet.

Shortly after daybreak, rangers in helicopters rounded up startled
galloping zebras into a large V-shaped tarpaulin enclosure.

The animals at the narrow end of the enclosure were allowed through
into an adjoining pen and from there they were loaded on to trucks,
each carrying some two dozen zebras.

KWS aims to move some 7,000 animals in all, 4,000 zebra and 3,000
wildebeest. At least 88 zebras had been captured Wednesday, hours into
the operation.

Around 1,000 animals will come from Soysambu, near the Rift Valley city
of Nakuru, a private conservancy owned by Delamere Estates. The
remainder will be taken from several other reserves.

The operation, costing 103 million shillings (1.3 million dollars),
will be carried out in four phases and run to February 28, KWS
officials said.

The plan is to restock Amboseli, some 300 kilometres (185 miles) from
Soysambu, with natural prey so as to prevent hyenas and lions from
attacking livestock in homes around the park.

"Some herders lost as high as 80 percent of their stock due to the
drought and the few that were remaining were attacked by hyenas and
lions and that angered the local community," KWS spokesman Paul Udoto
told AFP.

"One of the quick remedies is for KWS to restock the park. It is one
way of restoring the balance between carnivores and herbivores in the
park as well as reducing the lion and hyena attacks on livestock," he
said.

Charles Musyoki, a scientist with KWS explained that Amboseli park is a
"dry season feeding refuge for herbivores" where animals jostle around
water holes and patches of pasture then leave when rainfall resumes in
the regions they migrated from.

But last year the animals did not move out of the park because of the
prolonged dry spell, and many died.

"We lost significant numbers of wildebeests and zebras. Over 60 percent
of zebras and wildebeests were lost in that ecosystem," Musyoki said.

"The deaths created an imbalance in the number of carnivores and
herbivores in the park resulting in a shortage of the lions’ and
hyenas’ normal food," spokesman Udoto said.

As a result the predators turned to preying on domestic animals.

"It is expected that the restocking will restore the balance of animals
within the park and reduce the lion and hyena attacks on livestock,"
Udoto said.

In August, KWS said Kenya was losing 100 lions each year as cattle
herders killed them in retaliation for attacks on their stock.

But habitat destruction, disease and the rising human population also
played a role in the population fall from 2,749 animals seven years ago
to 2,000 today.

Last year’s drought was one of the worst in years across eastern
Africa.

Kenya’s last massive animal transfer was in 2005, taking 400 elephants
from an over-crowded coastal reserve to a vast inland park, but that
had to be halted due to drought which threatened their survival in
their new home.

At the time is was dubbed "the single largest translocation of animals
ever undertaken since Noah’s Ark."

Wildlife is one of Kenya’s main tourist attractions while tourism --
the country’s top foreign currency earner -- is still recovering from
the ravages of the violence that broke out following the disputed
December 2007 elections.


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