33 impala have been moved from Lewa Conservancy to Sera Rhino Sanctuary in a bid to boost biodiversity in the area
Just like the black rhino, impala (Aepyceros melampus) used to roam the Sera Conservancy area in high numbers. Although habitat loss, hunting for meat and human settlement have affected their distribution patterns, they are by no means endangered, and continue to thrive in protected and managed areas. So why move this common antelope into the heavily protected Sera Rhino Sanctuary?
Impala are a common, medium sized antelope found in southern and eastern Africa
The area in Sera Conservancy where the Sanctuary is situated has suffered a gradual loss of biological diversity over the past decade. From the disappearance of black rhino in the 1990s, to the land degradation associated with unplanned grazing – this grassland habitat is most certainly not as colourful as it once was.
Biodiversity is defined as the variety within and between all species of plants, animals and micro-organisms in a particular habitat or ecosystem. Limited biodiversity has significant consequences for plants, animals, and people in the area, not least because it results in a less resilient ecosystem. In the case of the Sera Rhino Sanctuary, increasing the different number of species here will not only benefit the black rhino and the land, but also boost eco-tourism prospects.
The holding boma – a multi purpose enclosure for wildlife, used before release and in the case of any animal requiring medical attention
In early October 2015, 33 impala were moved from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to the Sera Rhino Sanctuary. The process was a ‘soft capture’ – where two breeding groups of impala were desensitised to the transport crate over a number of weeks and encouraged to venture inside it to find food. This allowed the translocation process to occur with the minimum amount of stress to the antelope. The groups are now in holding pens in Sera Rhino Sanctuary, where they will stay and be monitored until the veterinary teams and the Sera rangers are satisfied that the conditions in the Sanctuary are good enough for their release. Their release date will largely depend on the seasonal rains, which have already started in many parts of Samburu, promising good grazing for Sera’s newest arrivals.
Two of the translocated females have already given birth in Sera, just two days after their release into the holding boma. This brings the total number of impala to 35. Plans are underway to translocate more in 2016, which will include a bachelor herd from Lewa to try and ensure a natural demographic.
Bottom left – a young fawn prances with his herd
This move was made possible in part by the generous support of USAID: