By Caroline Chebet, Giants Club African Conservation Fellow, The Standard.
Published 9 May 2019.
The population of warthogs in the country has recorded a sharp decline in recent years.
Longer dry spell, conservation organisations say, has continued to claim a number of warthogs amid fears that that they might soon become a rare phenomenon.
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, population of warthogs in the country, as of 2018 November stood at 13,500, a sharp decline since 2014 where the population stood at 18,400.
Between 2007 and 2014, warthog population experienced a steady increase from 16,000 before nose diving to the current population estimates.
According to the International Union of Conservation and Nature(IUCN), warthogs are classified as least concerned, however, high mortality rates in the country especially during the dry seasons has been worrying. And while it is almost a common phenomenon to spot their upright tails, erect manes and regal bearings in protected areas, warthogs are largely found in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
“Warthogs are vulnerable to climatic extremes including drought, high rainfall and low temperature. They are also vulnerable to disease including rinderpest and predation. The main threats are human-caused habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation, competition with livestock for water and food,” IUCN noted.
Warthogs are in over 10 protected areas in Kenya, at least one protected area in Somalia and another protected area in Ethiopia.
The challenges, the conservation body notes, are widespread and although they have high reproductive rates, are fast declining.
IUCN notes, “Most populations seem to be in decline over much of the geographic range. High mortality in central Kenya during dry periods. Limited drinking water and food appear to keep populations at low density in central Kenya and probably elsewhere”.
The conservation body however revealed that warthogs remain largely unstudied species for which many more field surveys are needed to determine geographic limits, area of occupancy, abundance, and the impacts of various human activities on distribution and abundance.
Also on the decline, in the population estimates by the National Bureau of statistics are Thomsons gazelles, impalas, kudus, gravy zebras, kudus, waterbucks and hartebeests.
Read the full story here. This story is reproduced here as part of the Giants Club African Conservation Journalism Fellowships, a Space for Giants programme to expand the reach of conservation and environmental journalism in the four countries where we work.