Kenya began its first national wildlife census on Friday, 7 May, aiming to aid conservation and identify threats to its vast but threatened wildlife populations. The census will run until July, with rangers, researchers and community members counting animals on land and from helicopters.
Elephants are seen at the Tsavo West National Park in Kenya. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya
It will focus on counting rare species, such as the pangolin which has been identified as a potential intermediary species for Covid-19, and the Sable antelope, of which fewer than 100 remain in Kenya.
Expanding human settlements, a changing climate that makes resources scarcer, and poaching have contributed to declines in wildlife populations. Giraffe populations in Kenya have fallen about 40% over the last three decades, according to the Africa Wildlife Foundation.
The 250 million shilling ($2.3m) project was launched by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the tourism ministry at the Shimba Hills National Reserve, the coastal home of Kenya's last population of Sable antelopes.
Some of Kenya's most vulnerable animals, including rhinos and elephants, are counted periodically. But it will be the first time animals are counted systematically in all areas of the country.
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