Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Elgon tourism threatened as animals find refuge in Kenya

Tourist activities on Mt. Elgon are drastically declining and continue to be threatened due to the soaring encroachment on the park land and hunting, forcing many animals to run to neighbouring Kenya. Although the mountain is beautifully littered with cliffs, caves, gorges and waterfalls with the upper slopes draped in tropical forest cover, most of these have been destroyed by encroachers who are pushing for land for settlement and farming.

According to Mt. Elgon Conservation Warden, residents living around the park hunt animals for game meat, cut down trees for timber and settlement and have encroached on the parkland for farming, thereby scaring away the valuable birds and animal species treasured most by tourists to the Kenyan side.

The tourism warden, said that if the encroachment and poaching on Mt. Elgon goes unchecked for long, all the valuable animal and bird species would either be hunted down or flee, thereby killing entire tourism activities at the park. The high depletion of wildlife, trees and the land itself at the park reflects the hostility of the people living around it. Statistics at the park indicate that in the Financial Year 2009/2010, Mt. Elgon received Shs304 million compared to Shs90 million for part of 2011/2012 Financial Year. Although for the first quarter of 2012, Mt. Elgon seems to be doing relatively well, there are fears that the rate at which encroachment is taking place could terribly deplete the wildlife if it is not controlled.

Mt. Elgon attracts tourists from Australia, Britain, China, Germany, Canada, US, Austria, Belgium, Israel, Japan and local visitors from African countries; Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

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