Beisa Oryx Population on the Rise in Nakuprat-Gotu

 
 Photo by  David Clode  on  Unsplash

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

A recent aerial survey conducted with the support of Fauna & Flora International (FFI) shows a rise in the numbers of near-threatened oryx numbers in Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy, which is thought to now hold 10% of Kenya’s oryx population.


The Survey  

The Beisa oryx is one of the savannah’s most stunning animals — with its long, elegant horns, an unmistakable face mask, and a black side stripe that separates a white belly from a fawn body. Males can reach over 200 kilograms, and stand at around 115 centimetres high at the shoulder. 

The Beisa oryx is listed as ‘near threatened’ by IUCN, due to its decline across much of Africa from hunting, habitat loss and competition for grazing with livestock. 

Nakuprat-Gotu Community Conservancy in Isiolo County has been blessed with historically high numbers of oryx. When they started their Beisa Oryx Recovery Programme in 2016, with the support of NRT and FFI, it was the first focussed conservation effort on this species in Africa. 

As well as providing funding for three aerial surveys in 2016, ’17 and ’18, the Beisa Oryx Recovery Program also included the GPS collaring of five oryx, support for ranger-based wildlife monitoring, and conservation education in local schools.

NRT conducted the aerial surveys in Nakuprat Gotu in September 2018, June 2017 and September 2016, and the results speak volumes to the efforts of the Nakuprat-Gotu communities in protecting the oryx. 

 
 

A total of 709 Beisa oryx were counted in 2018, compared with 631 in 2017 and 618 in 2016. 

This sub-population of Beisa oryx in Nakuprat-Gotu could represent up to 10% of the national population.

The area covered by the 2018 survey (560km2) was larger than that surveyed in 2016 (312km2). This was because data from collared oryx was coupled with ranger observations, and suggested the animals were concentrated in a core area of approximately 500km2 - this area was the focus of the 2018 survey and will be used for future annual aerial surveys. 

How has Nakuprat-Gotu been protecting the oryx?

As well as increasing support to rangers, Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy initiated a conservation education programme in two local primary schools, with Beisa oryx as the flagship species. This has led to an increased awareness of the importance of this oryx population amongst children and adults alike, as well as a better understanding of the work of the conservancy. This improved security and conservation awareness has been complemented by peace efforts and improved governance (Nakuprat-Gotu scored the highest governance score of 31 conservancies in 2018). All of these efforts have helped create a safe environment for the oryx to thrive. 

 
Sophie Harrison