What’s special about Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
The forest covering over 400 km2, is the largest piece of indigenous coastal forest remaining in Kenya and also East Africa. As such it is a key site for the global survival of six bird and three mammal species. It is noted for its high biodiversity arising from a history of gradual isolation and the fact that it has three forest types in one.
Dense Cynometra thicket dominates the higher ground on a dark red soil and is home to the tiny Sokoke Scops Owl. There are also areas of open woodland with grasses and flowering plants growing on a light sandy soil under the delicate spreading canopy of the Brachystegia trees. Here the globally threatened Clarke’sWeaver, Amani Sunbird and Sokoke Pipit can often be seen.
The mixed forest dominated by the wonderful shapes of the Afzelia trees with twisted boughs and dark green foliage is the favoured habitat of the Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew, another endangered species. Arabuko Sokoke Forest is situated to the west of the road between Malindi and Mombasa, and extends from Gede, south of Malindi, almost to Kilifi, approximately half way along the main road to Mombasa.
A map showing Arabuko Sokoke Forest
Apart from local people’s understandable need to make a living for their families from whatever resources they find to hand, elephants and baboons often leave the Forest and damage the crops of people living on its margins.
The Forest is therefore in constant danger from poachers of wood for charcoal, building and carvings for tourists in the nearby coastal resorts, and of animals for food. It is also threatened by people wishing to clear it for agriculture and to rid themselves of nuisance animals.
Poachers cut trees for wood carving
Tree logging at the forest
The Forest is now also being harvested sustainably by local butterfly farmers who earn an income from the sale of pupae to the Kipepeo Project, which collectively exports them to live butterfly exhibits overseas. In addition the forest provides vital medicinal plants and firewood for the local communities living around it.
A butterfly species that is found in the forest
History of FoASF
Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (FoASF) is a support group, consisting of individuals, institutions and businesses who in some way would like to contribute to a positive future for Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Gazetted as a Forest Reserve, the forest is under a joint management agreement involving four institutions:- Forestry Department, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and National Museums of Kenya.
Monitoring in Arabuko Sokoke forest
However, it is recognized that substantial support and interest comes from many individuals and organizations outside this framework. In the past there has been help with the battles over degazettement, reports of illegal activities, updates on natural history sightings, suggestions for management improvements, and financial contributions that have allowed more diverse activities to take place. Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, utilizing this interest and concern aims to contribute to ensuring that the forest is enjoyed and used sustainably for generations to come.
David Ngala – FoASF ‘s Conservation Officer – counting waders in Malindi
Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (FoASF) was started in October 1999 by concerned individuals and institutions to link people interested in the conservation of the Forest with the present Forest Managers. In mid-December 1999, the British High Commissioner for Kenya, Sir Jeffrey James – himself a keen birdwatcher and conservationist – officially launched the FoASF on the same occasion as the constructed Tree Platform was opened by the Mayor of Malindi, Gideon Mung’aro.
Tree house at Arabuko-Sokoke Forest
Friends of Arabuko Sokoke Forest (FoASF) seeks to work with local communities to conserve the internationally important Arabuko-Sokoke Forest . This is done through biodiversity conservation action, awareness creation, community work and improving eco-tourism facilities for visitors at the forest. FoASF also supports any activity which helps local people and therefore makes them less eager to destroy it or steal from it for short term gain.
The FoASF – Friends scheme.
“Friends” of FoASF offer both technical and financial support and also get actively involved in joint ventures relating to the overall care and conservation of the Forest. These activities have helped raise awareness about the Forest and have encouraged more people to use it for recreation. FoASF employs David Ngala as the main team member on the ground collecting data on illegal activity to help the Forest Service and Wildlife Service in their management of the forest. Patrick Sirya is working part-time as the Coordinator for David’s work and is responsible for receiving, collating, mapping the data David collects as well as compiling reports for the Forest management and other stakeholders. Patrick is also in charge of maintaining this website and blog.
Anyone interested in further information about our work should email FoASF <friendsofasf(at)gmail.com> or contact the FoASF Coordinator on <siryapatrick2000(at)yahoo.com>.
The Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew is a strange-looking animal which is thought to be distantly related to the aardvark and to elephants, hyraxes and sea cows. It is only found in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, so its survival is dependent on the continued ecological health of the Forest. It was therefore chosen as the logo of the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
The Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrew – the flagship of friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
More on the Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrew