The past year saw no change in the amount of illegal cutting that took place, with David finding 50-100 cut stems per month. The problem with this is that certain species, such as Afzelia and Hymenia, are targeted for timber, of which one main product is animal carvings for the tourist industry (please only buy certified products! Check out FAO website.) Targeting certain species reduces the variety within the forest, which can have disastrous effects throughout the food-web affecting many species of animals and plants.
Snare usage seems to have declined a little, though it is still too high to be sustainable.The main animals targeted are small antelopes, such as suni and duiker and also the elephant-shrews or sengi, as they are known in Swahili. The sengi traps indiscriminately catch the endemic and endangered Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew alongside the more common species, and are the main threat to this species’ existence in the future.
Positive news is that David has begun working with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) guards, passing on his excellent knowledge of the forest and his 6th sense of how to find snares and cut stumps. We hope that this will bear fruit and a renewed and strengthened protection for the forest. In addition local communities surrounding the forest are increasingly engaging in sustainable activities such as butterfly farming and bee-keeping, which provide them with a real alternative to illegal subsistence from the forest. See the ASSETs blog to see more of the work being done in local communities around the forest. With increased patrolling and alternative income for local villages we hope tosay that illegal cutting and bush meat hunting will have reduced by the end of 2011.