The latest International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) list of threatened species includes 36 animals in Kenya categorised as ‘Critically Endangered’. These animals all face a very high risk of extinction in the wild if their threat is not reduced.
IUCN considers the ‘Critically Endangered’ category the highest in its Red List. By 2014 the Red List had 2,464 from across the world compared with 854 in 1998. Out of the 36, these 16 caught our eye and we suggest you try your level best to see them before they disappear.
1. Taita Apalis
The Taita Apalis, as the name suggests, is endemic to the Taita Hills of Kenya and is considered one of the rarest birds in the world. An estimated 310 to 654 birds remain on earth although Ornithologists fear the number may be lower. The Taita Apalis inhabits a spectacularly small range of only 370.65 acres around the Ngangao, Chawia, Fururu and Vuria forests. Its decline in the wild is mainly attributed to habitat loss although. A serious drought in 2009 may have contributed to its shrinking numbers.
2. Du Toit’s Torrent Frog
The Du Toit’s Torrent Frog, also known as the Mount Elgon torrent frog or the Kenya rocky river frog, was last recorded in 1962. According to the IUCN, 4 attempts to locate the species (in wet and dry seasons) since 2001 have been unsuccessful. Some fear this frog may already be extinct. Its disappearance is thought to have been caused by disease. In case you come across one, consider yourself very fortunate.
3. Hirola Antelope
The Hirola, also known as Hunter’s hartebeest or Hunter’s antelope’, is one of the beautiful antelopes endemic to north-east Kenya in the Arawale National Reserve and south-west Somalia. It was discovered in 1888 by the zoologist HCV Hunter. It is estimated that there may be between 300 and 500 in Kenya while populations in Somalia are feared extinct.
4. Taita Hills Warty Frog
The Taita Hills Warty Frog is another endemic species to Kenya which can only be found in the fragmented montane forests of Taita Hills in the southeastern part of the country. The Taita Hills were designated a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA).
This might spell hope for the last remaining Warty frogs and offer you a chance to catch them before they disappear. There are further plans to convert the various eucalyptus and pine plantations in the area back to their original indigenous forest to provide a conducive environment for the frog.
5. Aders’ Duiker
The Aders’ Duiker is also known as Nunga in Swahili or the Kunga Marara among the Pokomo. The Giriama call it Harake. The Duiker is a small, forest-dwelling duiker found only in Zanzibar and Arabuko Sokoke on the Kenya Coast. Critically endangered due to habitat destruction, feral dogs, and overhunting, the Duiker has a population of fewer than 1,400 remaining in the world.
6. Black Rhinoceros
The Black Rhinoceros, also known as the hook-lipped Rhinoceros, is a familiar species on the endangered animals’ list. Native to eastern and central Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola, black rhinos can often be found in mud or water wallows, where they cool themselves.
Although the rhinoceros is referred to as black, its colours vary from dark yellow, and brown to dark brown or dark grey. The status of this animal has become so critical that a close relative of the black rhino is virtually staring at its last days on earth.
7. Hawksbill Turtle
The Hawksbill Sea Turtle is the only surviving species in the genus Eretmochelys. The species is easily distinguished from other sea turtles by its sharp, curving beak with prominent tomium and the saw-like appearance of its shell margins.
The shell of the Hawksbill slightly changes colour depending on water temperature. Because of human fishing practices, mainly for their shells which were the primary source of tortoiseshell material used for decorative purposes, the species is listed as critically endangered. Today, it is illegal to capture and trade in hawksbill sea turtles and products derived from them.
8. Haplochromis dentex
Haplochromis Dentex is a species of Cichlid (popular freshwater fish kept in home aquariums) endemic to Lake Victoria. No Haplochromis has been spotted since 1987 and it is feared it may already be extinct.
IUCN still maintains a record of the fish on their Critically Endangered list just in case there is a small unknown population that still survives out there. When you visit the Lake Victoria area be on the lookout for this fish – you might just get your 5 seconds of fame if you chance upon one!
9. Singidia Tilapia
The Singidia Tilapia, known among local fishermen as Ngege, has almost been eliminated from its previous range in Lakes Victoria and Kyoga through predation, competitive exclusion and ecological displacement by predatory fishes like the Nile Perch and the highly competitive Nile Tilapia.
In Lake Victoria, where the main population resides, numbers have declined by more than 80% in the last 20 years. In addition to the threat from the introduced species, the remaining populations are also under heavy fishing pressure because of their popularity.
10. Jipe Tilapia
The Jipe Tilapia is only found in Kenya and Tanzania in Lakes Jipe and Mali ya Mungu reservoir. Jipe Tilapia has also been spotted in the connecting River Ruvu.
The fish suffers from a continued decline in population, mostly from mature individuals, competition for habitat, siltation, overfishing and weed infestation. The Kenyan side of Lake Jipe which lies inside the Tsavo National Park might be the last hope of this fish because no commercial fishing is permitted inside the park.
11. Montane Dancing-jewel
This rare damselfly has slightly expanded orange legs and a mostly sky-blue abdomen, as well as the large, bulbous eyes, and long, translucent wings characteristic of dragonflies and damselflies. Occurring along montane forest streams of the Aberdare and Mount Kenya at altitudes between 1,600 and 2,000 M, the Dancing Jewel is now listed as critically endangered because, at these altitudes, forests have been largely cleared and only fragmented and small secondary forest pockets remain below 2,000 M where they are protected as forest reserves although this has not stopped illegal logging and charcoal burning.
12. Green Sawfish
Also known as the Longcomb Sawfish or the Olive Sawfish and sometimes also as the Narrowsnout Sawfish, the Green Sawfish is a ray with a shark-like body and an elongated, blade-like snout known as a rostrum that has triangular, saw-like teeth on either side, making it a spectacular fish to look at. The fish usually gets entangled in fishing nets and afterwards is retained as bycatch for its meat, fins and rostrum.
13. Taita Thrush
The Taita Thrush also answers to the name Taita Olive Thrush. Some know it as Heller’s Ground Thrush, after zoologist Edmund Heller (1875–1939). Heller described this species scientifically in 1913. Endemic to the Taita Hills in Kenya, it lives in the forests of Mbololo, Chawia, Ngangao and Yale.
Until 1985, many considered the Taita Thrush a subspecies of the Olive Thrush. Only about 1,400 birds were reported to be in existence by the year 2000.
14. Lake Victoria Deepwater Catfish
The Lake Victoria Deepwater Catfish is yet another critically endangered fish also feared it may already be extinct. Occurring in the deeper areas of Lake Victoria, usually, between 12 and 20 M, people last saw it in 1997. The main threat comes from the Nile Perch introduced into the lake. Increased eutrophication of the lake and possibly overfishing are other factors affecting the survivability of the fish. No known populations have been recorded.
15. Zingis Radiolata
Zingis radiolata is a species of air-breathing land snail endemic to the Taita Hills of Kenya. Threatened by habitat loss, a sighting in these hills last occurred in 2000.
If you can identify each one of these fascinating animals, let us know. We might just have a gift for you. You will need to show photographic evidence as proof though! All the best.