Safaricom through the Mpesa Foundation has partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust and Bank of Africa to protect the remaining roan antelopes in Kenya.
The KES17 million support, which will be given in cash grants will go along a way in securing the future of Kenya’s 15 remaining roan antelopes, only found in Ruma National Park in Homa Bay County.
“We thank the M-PESA Foundation for this support which is a great boost towards the implementation of the National Recovery and Action for the roan antelope in Kenya (2020-2030) launched by Hon Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife in March last year”, said Betty Maitoyo Ag. Chairperson, KWS Board of Trustees.
Currently, the antelopes are confined in Ruma park which is surrounded by human settlement and mixed farming. Fires also pose a major threat to the park as communities prepare their farmlands towards the end of the dry season. Predation by hyenas and leopards also pose a serious threat to the 15 remaining antelope population which fell from 300 in 1980.
“We commend the efforts put in place by KWS, Northern Rangelands Trust and Back to Africa to help save Kenya’s roan antelope population. As a testament to our commitment to environmental conservation, we are happy to support these efforts which are part of the recovery plan to establish and maintain a stable and growing population of roan antelopes,” said Michael Joseph, Chairman, M-PESA Foundation.
The decline of the roan antelope population is attributed to poaching for meat and cultural reasons, drought, disease, conversion of their natural habitat to cropland and settlement schemes and fire outbreaks.
Roan antelopes are a flagship species in Ruma National Park and are used to drive tourism income, which is one of Kenya’s top exchange earners.
Since its inception in 2010, the M-PESA Foundation has implemented various large scale and long-term highly impactful social projects in the areas of health, education and environmental conservation.
Under environmental conservation, the Foundation has previously invested in the restoration of the Mau Eburu ecosystem through fencing the Mau Eburu forest and empowering the communities to curb recurring human-wildlife conflict. The Foundation has also recently partnered with Reteti Elephant sanctuary to help protect the orphaned and abandoned elephant calves.