Swayne’s Hartebeest in Senkelle

The Swayne’s Hartebeest or Somali Hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus swaynei)  is an endemic subspecies of Hartebeest in Ethiopia. By the late 1990’s, the population status of the Swayne’s Hartebeest in Ethiopia had fallen to below 300 individuals. With the entire country’s population on the verge of extinction, the concentration of individuals were at the Senkelle Sanctuary south of Addis Ababa, established to protect this endemic subspecies. The main factors threatening the species with extinction were political unrest in the area, indiscriminate poaching and increased pressure on its restricted habitat as a result of intensive agriculture and heightened grazing pressure by domestic livestock straying into the sanctuary. In response to the rapidly declining numbers of the Swayne’s Hartebeest, AWWP entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Organisation (EWCO) in March 2002 to lend emergency support to protect the few remaining animals from extinction. Measures taken for in-situ protection of the animals included strengthening of the existing ranger patrolling infrastructure to minimize incursions into national park grounds and poaching, increasing participation of local communities for protection of the endangered Hartebeests and provision of logistical support to the EWCO in the Senkelle Sanctuary. Using AWWP funding, six additional rangers were employed from among the local community and financially supported by AWWP for a duration of 3 years. In addition, a security outpost to enable heightened surveillance was constructed at the Palm tree valley in the Senkelle Sanctuary. Finally, infrastructure in the form of a patrolling vehicle, base communication radio systems and field equipment like binoculars etc. were donated by AWWP for the protection of the Swayne’s Hartebeest. The project was successfully completed in 2005 with long term monitoring and heightened surveillance indicating a trend towards recovery for the population of the Swayne’s Hartebeest population in Senkelle. Yearly census counts indicated that the population at Senkelle had grown from less than 150 heads in 2002 to more than 220 by 2005. Moreover, the authorities reported a sharp decline in poaching activities.
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