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Saving The Senkelle Swayne's Hartebeest in Ethiopia

Situation

Senkelle Swayne’s Hartebeest Sanctuary is home to what is probably the last viable population of Swayne’s Hartebeest in Ethiopia, but poaching has caused a serious decline in numbers. In under a decade, the original herd of around 3,000 animals had seriously dwindled down to only 200 by 2003. The situation required serious action.

About the applicant

Transhumance and Nature Foundation (STN) is a small Dutch non-profit association of twelve Dutch organisations, all focused on international nature conservation. It has sister organisations in Spain, Portugal and Ethiopia. In 2008, STN took over the supervision of the Senkelle Swayne’s Hartebeest Sanctuary in Ethiopia, closely cooperating with local organisations EWCA and WildCode.

About the application (2011)

The Transhumance and Nature Foundation (STN) and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) wanted to raise funds to improve the management of the reserve and to create a visitor centre.

Intended results

Improving the management of the reserve was seen as a crucial first step towards protecting the park’s wildlife. It was thought that a visitor centre would make the sanctuary more attractive to local- and international visitors. Visitor centres help to increase the visibility and importance of national parks and sanctuaries and can play an important educational role. The centre could also augment revenues for the sanctuary and create employment for the local community. It would offer visitors a souvenir stand with local crafts, as well as flyers and brochures about the park and activities such as guided walks and safaris.

The second objective was to get local communities involved in the park’s conservation efforts. The visitor centre could also educate school children, making them aware of the importance of protecting the environment, so that they can continue to share it with their families, friends and, one day, their own children.

Actual results

By January 2011, after only five years, the Hartebeest population in the park had grown to about 750 animals. Other animal species benefitted, too. In the same period, the number of visitors to the sanctuary increased tenfold, from around 100 per year in 2005 to around 1,000 per year in 2010.

Construction on the visitor centre has begun and will be finished in early 2012. This visitor centre will be the first of its kind in Ethiopia. This centre could trigger the establishment of similar centres in the other sanctuaries and national parks in Ethiopia. The Prince Bernhard Nature Fund is happy with the sanctuary’s newfound success and is confident that there is still a lot of potential.

Photo: mammalwatching.com