A partnership to save the endangered roan antelope

The roan antelope is known for its backward-curving horns and long, tasseled ears. It has a grey or brown coat, a black-and-white clown-like facemask that is darker in males than females.

Once a widely distributed species across Africa, the roan antelope numbers are on the decline. There are currently just 14 roan antelopes in the country.

Expanding human settlements has seen poaching of the species for game meat, farming in their habitats and frequent bushfires lead to a significant drop in the population of the antelope. Experts project that the roan antelopes could be extinct by 2025.

In Kenya, the antelope would be spotted in the Maasai Mara ecosystem in Narok County and Ithanga Hills in Kiambu County. The species has now settled in Lambwe Valley in Homa Bay County where conservation efforts have confined it to Ruma National Park.

The M-PESA Foundation in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), the Northern Rangelands Trust and Back to Africa stepped in mid-January to secure their future. The Foundation donated KES 17 million to build an 8.6 km boundary fence to protect the park from fire outbreaks which present a threat to the antelope.

This work is part of a National Recovery and Action Plan for the Roan Antelope in Kenya launched a year ago by KWS. To eliminate poaching of roan antelopes, the plan requires the establishment of an effective electric fence, steps to make Ruma National Park a snare-free zone, and to regulate the use of public roads in protected areas for convenience to members of the community.

To supplement the support, there has been engagement by other partners through the Friends of Ruma National Park, Kenya Forest Service, officers of the National Government and the County Government.

The Friends of Ruma National Park is working with the community in Lambwe Valley to address human-wildlife conflict by promoting domestic and foreign tourism to boost revenues.

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