ENDANGERED

Wildlife in Meru National Park at risk as rivers dry up

Environmentalists say there is need to move with speed to find a solution to save the animals.

In Summary

• Some Domestic and wild animals face extinction as rivers dry and drought continues to bite in many parts of the Country. 

Wild animals in Meru National Park are facing danger as most rivers have dried up in the last 15 years.

Environmentalists say there is need to move with speed to find a solution to save the animals.

Kenya Wildlife Service says some of the most dependable park rivers  such as Ura, Thagatha, Makutano, Kanjo, Kindani, Kathithi, Gakongu, Bwatheroni and Bisanadi have dried up.

 

Park’s senior warden Bakari Chongwa, told journalists the park relies on four rivers – Ruuji Ruiru, Mutundu, Mulika and Murera – with the last two being the only ones with water all year.

Environmentalists have also signaled an alarm over diminishing volumes of water in permanent rivers Mariara, Kathita, Thingithu, Mutonga and Thanantu.

“Over extraction of water from the rivers upstream, deforestation and climate change are responsible for the rivers drying up. I was stationed here in 2005, and then, we could count 14 rivers. Right now, we only have two rivers and their survival is not guaranteed,” he said.

“I ask for concerted efforts from stakeholders to ensure water catchment areas are conserved. The park has a population of about 600 elephants but currently, we only have 200. The rest have migrated to other conservation areas and we hope they are safe wherever they are,” Bakari said.

Bakari asked committees managing water extracted from these rivers to ensure there is proper distribution of water so that people irrigate their farms at night but release it during the day for use by those downstream.

“They should use water with full knowledge that there are people downstream who are in need of the resource. We can no longer be certain that any of the rivers will remain permanent because we have to design ways of using the water in other parts of the park. We have been forced to divert some of the water in Mulika and Murera to the dry river beds to ensure there is a better distribution of the resource to minimize wildlife conflict,” he said.

“They should use water with full knowledge that there are people downstream who are in need of the resource. We can no longer be certain that any of the rivers will remain permanent because we have to design ways of using the water in other parts of the park. We have been forced to divert some of the water in Mulika and Murera to the dry river beds to ensure there is a better distribution of the resource to minimize wildlife conflict,” he said.