Features

Kafue Lechwe faces extinction from poaching and loss of habitat

DOREEN NAWA, Lusaka
A RECENT population count has shown evidence of continued decline of the Kafue Red Lechwe, an endemic semi-aquatic antelope species found in the Kafue Flats of Zambia.
The Kafue Lechwe population currently stands at about 23,306, the lowest ever recorded, down from historical high population counts that exceeded 100,000 in the 1970s and 250,000 in the 1930s.
The last survey, conducted in 2015, estimated a population of 28,711, suggesting a 19 percent decline in five years.
The Kafue Lechwe is now fighting extinction, and was listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.
The decline in the Kafue Lechwe population is attributed to a number of factors, including habitat degradation and loss, invasive species encroachment, poaching (illegal off-take), unsustainable hunting quotas, competition with cattle as well as disease and nutritional stress.
Of these, the most concerning to conservationists are poaching and the spread of the invasive species resulting in reduction of suitable habitat. Of great concern has been the spread of the Mimosa Pigra plant.
The plant is believed to have been introduced by European farmers in the CLICK TO READ MORE



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