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Kenya Wildlife Service contains Anthrax
outbreak at Lake Nakuru National Park

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- An anthrax outbreak that affected Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park is over and the last buffalo death was recorded on May 10, the country’s wildlife conservation agency said on Saturday.

John Waweru, director general of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), said in a statement that the total mortalities to date are 145 buffaloes representing 3.54 percent of the estimated population of 4,100 buffaloes in Lake Nakuru National Park.

"Our partnership with the local administration and Department of Public Health as well as Directorate of Veterinary Services to educate the local communities about anthrax and our surveillance and monitoring efforts have paid off," Waweru said.

Lake Nakuru National Park which is about 160 km northwest of the Kenya’s capital city Nairobi covers an area of 188 square km and is an important ecosystem supporting high diversity of waterfowl, large mammal and floral species.

"It was set up as the first rhino sanctuary in Kenya and has been a successful breeding habitat.

"The park hosts a number of threatened mammal species, including lion, leopard and the Rothschild giraffe.

"Five globally threatened bird species are also found in the park," he added.

He noted that the park management would continue with the monitoring and will report any suspicious deaths for urgent action by veterinary authorities.

The KWS official said that management would also undertake other long-term measures to mitigate such disease outbreaks, noting that prolonged drought is a risk factor in anthrax outbreaks.

"This results in depletion of pasture, forcing animals to graze closer to the soil that is potentially infested with anthrax spores.

The park has previous history of anthrax outbreak in July 2015."

Waweru revealed that the long-term measures include translocation of buffaloes from the park to avoid depletion of pastures during prolonged dry spells, which are becoming more frequent.


Conservationist says northern white rhino
can be saved from extinction scientifically

by Ben Ochieng NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A Kenya-based conservationist said that saving the northern white rhino from extinction can be done scientifically.

Richard Vigne, managing director of Ol Pejeta Conservancy that provides sanctuary for some of the region’s most endangered species and is home to two of the world’s remaining northern white rhinos, said on Wednesday that the species can be saved from extinction methodically using the last two remaining females that have found refuge at the sanctuary.

"In order to prevent the extinction from happening in totality, the only way it can be done is through in vitro fertilization (IVF)," Vigne told Xinhua in Nanyuki, in central Kenya, on the sidelines of the launch of the world’s first conservation technology lab.

"There have been a number of successful attempts to remove eggs from zoo-held southern white females and it is hoped that an ovum pick-up attempt will be made on the last two remaining northern white females soon," he said.

"It is complicated, very expensive but possible, and will require the removal of eggs from the ovaries of the two females to be fertilized using semen stored from males over the last few years to create viable mature embryos for storage in liquid nitrogen," Vigne added.

He said once this has been achieved, a technique will be used to reintroduce the embryos into a surrogate southern female, because the two northern females are infertile, with the aim of achieving pure-bred northern white pregnancies.

The conservationist said to that end, Ol Pejeta has begun preparing the herd of six southern white rhino females that will act as surrogates for the northern white rhino embryos when they are ready.

"Then we have to create a breeding herd of northern white rhinos which will provide a platform for the introduction of that species," he said.

"We are working with various partners in South Africa and in Europe and we are waiting for permission from the Kenya government to start to remove eggs from the two remaining females here."

"The effort will cost a huge amount of money, but is a noble effort to reverse at least one of the wrongs that mankind has wreaked upon other species that inhabit this planet with us," Vigne said.

The procedure is fraught with difficulties but will remind mankind that if you get down to the last two of a species, the chances of recovering that species that represents millions and millions of evolution is laborious, he said.



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