The Bush Viper and Mount Kenya bush viper meets the criteria for listing on Appendix II. This large, thick-bodied arboreal viper is found only in the forests of high central Kenya. Only two populations are known, one around Igembe in the northern Nyambeni range, and one at Chuka on the south-eastern side of Mount Kenya (Spawls et al, 2002). Both areas, which are not protected, have suffered from extensive habitat degradation due to logging and agricultural activities. The population status of the Bush Viper and Mount Kenya bush viper is unknown, but researchers believe it is becoming increasingly rare. Numbers are strongly suspected to be declining due to trade and habitat degradation.
The analysis of the listing proposal by IUCN and TRAFFIC concludes that “It is possible that collection for export has at least a local impact on wild populations and may not be sustainable when coupled with habitat loss and degradation.” An illegal trade exists, but data is sparse and difficult to obtain. An investigation into reptile trade in Kenya conducted between 2001 and 2002 found the Mount Kenya bush viper was among many species being smuggled out of the country (Reeve/IFAW, 2002). There were shipments of several Atheris species to the USA between 1997 and 2000 using fraudulent permits obtained by a foreign national who was later deported. US import statistics for this period record 50 unspecified Atheris individuals imported from Kenya in five shipments.
|Bush Viper and Mount Kenya Bush Viper|
Control of this trade from Kenya is very difficult. Legislation is not adequate since the species is not listed on the Schedule of the Wildlife Act of Kenya. Enforcement is under-resourced and reptiles are not a high priority. Appendix II listing will assist Kenya with controlling the markets. Kenya believes an Appendix III listing will not be sufficient to control the markets and protect the species.