Kenya: Tortoise Park struggles to stay afloat amidst the global pandemic

A stroll into the tortoise park and rescue centre in Mogotio is nothing short of breathtaking. But behind the scenes is a struggle to keep the 75 tortoises alive so as to continue raising awareness, inspire researches all across the region as well as attract tourists.

Before the pandemic struck, Jacob Toroitich, owner of Equator Tortoise Park would make Sh100,000 on a good day. His target groups were school children and other people visiting the tourist destinations in the North Rift.

Toroitich said the many tortoises that were killed along the busy highway propelled him to start a centre to keep the animals safe. Many of them were also killed by angry farmers protecting their crops.

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“Overtime, visitors started touring the facility and I started charging some amount to help with sourcing feeds and treating injured tortoises. Kenya Wildlife Service also helped in advising on medication to use on the injured animals,” Toroitich said.

With travel restrictions in place in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, he says business at the centre that was started in 2008 has been low and running the park has been difficult.

“A well-wisher just gave me his vehicle to go out and source food for the tortoises. The situation is dire since there are no visitors and hotels around have had no bookings,” Toroitich said.

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