Conservation and Environment in Kenya: Monthly Updates
Conservation in Kenya - Monthly Update – August-September 2014
Projects Abroad partnered with Kigio Wildlife Conservancy (KWC) with the main objective of ensuring that wildlife are protected and conserved for future generations. This requires a high focus with regards to sustainable scientific, cultural, aesthetic and economic gains that are in accordance with the Wildlife Act (Cap. 376).
The KWC’s Rothschild giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) population is growing steadily with the addition of a “bouncing baby girl”. This is one of the 9 endangered subspecies listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is thus of high conservation importance and on the IUCN Red List. Projects Abroad volunteers had the pleasure of experiencing the fruits of their labour when it was announced that “Sarah” would give birth at the end of August. Sarah went into oestrus shortly after her previous baby was snatched by a leopard and sadly killed immediately after birth.
The Projects Abroad staff and volunteers have developed their understanding of the Rothschild giraffe through spending great lengths of time in the field monitoring the species. The last two months have seen the birth of three female baby giraffes and now the population stands at 29 in total. The 3 giraffe babies are being constantly monitored by our team.
Birds are ecological indicators and their long-term monitoring, therefore, provides us with crucial information about our environment. Our inventory project is on-going and we have also developed a biological report from the data collected over the previous months by our volunteers. This data will be compared with previous data in order to update the conservancy’s bird species list. Some of the commonly observed species in the conservancy are the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) , the red-cheeked cordon-blue (Uraeginthus bengalus), the ring-necked dove (Streptopelia capicola), the red-headed weaver (Anaplectes rubriceps), the montane oriole (Oriolus percivali), the helmeted guinea fowl (Numida meleagris), the augur buzzard (Buteo augur) and the long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis). The coming months will be interesting because there is due to be an influx of Palearctic migrants and we will notice some birds from Europe arriving too.
A helping hand to curb poaching
Over the past couple of months, there have been some wonderful opportunities to watch the stars by the bright light of the moon. However, these nights come with a downside as they provide an easier setting for poachers to sneak in to hunt for food and commerce. Rangers are prompted to stay awake at night to patrol the borders and keep the animals safe but this comes with a big challenge in terms of manpower in a conservancy that is short-staffed. The volunteers, therefore, had to lend a helping hand during the day to cover other various duties.
The tree nursery and its role in agroforestry
The anthropogenic need for food and economic gain has long interfered with biodiversity, which has resulted in land degradation. One solution to these deeply rooted problems is the establishment of tree nurseries. The Projects Abroad Tree Nursery was founded in 2012 with the intention of restoring the land and supporting sustainable development. The nursery propagates both indigenous and exotic trees; indigenous trees are planted in denuded areas in the conservancy, while the exotic species support our agroforestry programme in the neighbouring community. The overall goal of this project is to ensure that renewable resources are not consumed faster than they are replaced. Our volunteers took part in planting trees in the communities as well as helped in the whole process of propagating seedlings.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
No matter how many generations after this was written, the sentiment still applies and we should work together to increase our effort.
Why is this programme so important? Why do we need to plant trees?
- Trees provide products like wood for fuel and construction material; the sale of which thus generates an income.
- Trees improve soil fertility and modify the surrounding micro-climate.
- Trees collect and store carbon in their biomass and in the soil. This helps the atmosphere, where carbon dioxide and methane are components of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
- Indigenous trees are important for habitat restoration. Fever trees (Acacia xanthopholea) are propagated in our nursery and then planted in the conservancy. This is important to conserve this local species that lends itself to heavy consumption by herbivores in the area.
Education and awareness campaigns
Whilst the knowledge obtained from scientific research can help to conserve the world’s natural resources and biodiversity, we believe that educating, inspiring and raising public awareness to the threats facing ecosystems is also an important step. Volunteers are needed to help design and implement a long-term education programme in schools; a programme based on visiting schools rather than just waiting for students to visit us.
Conservation Manager, Kenya