Mt.Elgon National park tourism threatened as animals find refuge in Kenya

A tourist walks through a crater lake covering 40 sq kilometres. The crater that was formed after the collapse of the mountain peak about two million years ago following a major eruption, is one of the biggest crater lakes in Africa and is the most visited lake found at the top of Mt. Elgon

Residents living around Mt.Elgon national  park hunt animals for game meat, cut down trees for timber and settlement and have encroached on the parkland for farming, thereby scaring away the valuable birds and animals.

Although the mountain is beautifully littered with cliffs, caves, gorges and waterfalls with the upper slopes draped in tropical forest cover, most of these have been destroyed by encroachers who are pushing for land for settlement and farming.

Mr Matanda aresident at the park said various bird and animal species treasured most by tourists have been scared off to the Kenyan side.
The tourism warden, Ms Gertrude Namakula, said if the encroachment and poaching on Mt. Elgon goes unchecked for long, all the valuable animal and bird species would either be hunted down or flee, thereby killing entire tourism activities at the park.

She said the high depletion of wildlife, trees and the land itself at the park reflects the hostility of the people living around it.

Ms Namakula said statistics at the park indicate that in the Financial Year 2009/2010, Mt. Elgon received Shs304 million compared to Shs90 million for part of 2011/2012 Financial Year.

She said although for the first quarter of 2012, Mt. Elgon seems to be doing relatively well, there are fears that the rate at which encroachment is taking place could terribly deplete the wildlife if it is not controlled.

Mt. Elgon attracts tourists from Australia, Britain, China, Germany, Canada, US, Austria, Belgium, Israel, Japan and local visitors from African countries; Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya.

Compiled by Jackie
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