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Kenya unveils plan to save lions, cheetahs from extinction

February 17, 2010, 11:22 AM EST

By Sarah McGregor

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) — Kenya is scaling up conservation efforts to restore dwindling numbers of large carnivores lost to shrinking habitats and conflicts with humans, the country’s wildlife agency said.

The National Large Carnivore Strategy unveiled today aims to protect depleted populations of lions, cheetahs spotted and striped hyenas, and wild dogs, Charles Musyoki, an officer with the Kenya Wildlife Service, said at a ceremony in the capital, Nairobi.

The number of lions in the East African country has dropped to 2,000, from 20,000 about 50 years ago, and studies show they may become extinct in Kenya within 20 years, Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa said at the same event. The cheetah population has plunged to 1,160, compared with 10,000 a half-century ago.

“Looking at these figures one could see what will be the status of our wildlife if we don’t do anything — we will not have any,” he said.

A further loss of animal life would pose a danger to the country’s natural biodiversity and curb wildlife safari tourism, Wekesa said. Tourism is Kenya’s third-largest foreign-exchange earner, after horticulture and tea.

The plan includes measures to educate communities on how to live harmoniously with animals by fortifying their homes and protecting their livestock, Wekesa said.

–Editors: Athol Bolleurs, Antony Sguazzin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at +254-020-343-510 or Smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:

Paul Richardson at +27-11-286-1999 or

pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-02-17/kenya-unveils-plan-to-save-lions-cheetahs-from-extinction.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

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