Category Archives: Sustainable income generating activities

Mystery Unravelled!!!!

I am talking of our never ending sojourn that has seen us get to learn a lot about natural resources and of keen interest, the threatened species of birds. Ngala is known for being the man behind Sokoke Scops Owl in Arabuko-Sokoke forest and I have accompanied him a couple of times to camp in the forest and be on the move at the crack of dawn as we follow the hooting Owl within thick vegetation. This is just one of the endangered species and at least there has been significant information about it on the web. However, there has been another species whose information is meager that you have to travel all the way to the Kenya coast in order to see it and learn something about it. This is the Clarke’s Weaver!! First was the breeding site discovered in Dakatcha woodlands over a month ago and since then, Ngala and I have been focusing specifically on wetlands within and around Arabuko-Sokoke forest. On 25th of March, this man with incredible mastery of the forest decided to ride his motorbike right on the edge of the forest and towards the south-west edge of the forest, he discovered a wetland. It was early evening and  birds would be returning to their roost sites. He decided to park his “piki” and have a closer look at the site and there he saw the Clarke’s Weavers. Most of them were female in their post-breeding plumage and there were a host of other species including the Zanzibar Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird and Grosbeak Weavers. Later on, last week, we undertook a visit as a whole team from Mwamba field study centre to witness this discovery by the Disney hero. The wetland as I saw it, was the perfect habitat for breeding of the species-made of sedges and reeds- and with abundance of water.





After spending two hours at the site between 5pm and 7pm, we set back to Mwamba and organized for a hike in the forest to all the wetlands. We managed this easily because we could pinpoint the pools from the Google maps. On a rainy Tuesday morning we set out in the forest again, this time without Ngala, to visit all the pools and assess the potential of them being breeding/roosting  sites for the Clarke’s Weavers. Out of the ten we planned to visit, we managed to trace eight and out of the eight, three were perfect for Clarke’s Weaver habitation. We had to stop after the eighth pool because the remaining two were three kilometres apart and it was totally rainy and windy.



Ngala and I are looking forward to visiting these three potential wetlands during morning and evening hours and spend some time monitoring any Weavers come in or fly out. We are certain that even if we don’t see them this year, we will see them next year during the breeding season between March and April. It is a puzzle to us still because we haven’t seen their nests but we won’t tire in monitoring them until we see them nest in some of these wetlands.

Well, we have the roost site unravelled around the forest for the first time since starting  our ten-year search. What’s next? leave it for us and follow us on this blog and you will definitely be the first to get the information. Your support either financially or through reading and recommending this post to other conservationists gives me the spirit of motivation to keep pushing with Ngala until we bring sufficient information about this threatened bird species.

Now, it’s time to wind up with this weird and wonderful!!!

Community on Mangrove Conservation

Two weeks ago David received an invitation from Ngomeni Mangrove Conservation group who wanted to share ideas of mangove conservation.Ngomeni is on the south west side of Arabuko-Sokoke forest. This part of the forest is covered by the cynometra tree species.

David honored the invitation and went, first meeting with one forest guard who is in charge of controlling mangrove forest in the area. Mr Evans Jefwa,one of the forest guards, who is doing a very good job in training the community to plant trees, took David round the area and showed him the mangrove seedlings planted.

He later explained to David that there are two groups which are working to plant mangove trees.David was very excited to see these efforts and encouraged them to continue with this and also to start other projects on rearing chicken and also fish farming. This will later help them in generation of income.

Why do people trap Golden-rumped Elephant-shrews??

After the last post, Dana commented asking why anyone would want to trap such a small mammal. The reason is as suggested – for food. Not a lot of meat on an elephant-shrew, but plenty enough for someone who doesn’t have any other meat option.

We have been trying to introduce alternative sources of meat / protien including keeping and raising guineafowl, chickens and rabbits but we were not able to really follow through so it hasn’t had much effect. The potential is there, however, to really be able to provide an alternative to bush meat.

Giant Pouched Rat trap in forest

Butterfly farming – a sucessful resource from Arabuko-Sokoke Forest

Ever heard of butterfly farming? Well at Kipepeo butterfly project its all about butterflies. Kipepeo is the Swahili word for butterfly. These beautiful creatures are all colours, all sizes all species. At the Kipepeo butterfly project all types of butterflies are breed.

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one of the butterfly species at the forest

The Kipepeo project based in Gede aims at linking conservation of Arabuko-Sokoke forest and livelihoods development of surrounding rural communities. Arabuko-Sokoke forest has a unique biodiversity which presents a good habitat for butterfly farming. Farmers living adjacent to the forest are allowed in the forest to collect butterfly species of which they can breed in their butterfly farm houses and the pupae is packed and sold abroad in Japan, Europe and USA in exhibitions.

The Kipepeo project is an initiative that sort to support the conservation of the forest through the sustainable utilization of butterfly biodiversity to benefit the local communities. It also seeks to diversify coastal tourism through exhibit of live butterflies. This project has been a key step in conserving Arabuko-Sokoke forest by providing an alternative income source to local communities while at the same time, the locals seeing the value of the forest and conserving it.

The project benefits over 100,000 people in 50 villages around Arabuko-Sokoke. They have now organized themselves into 27 community groups. Kipepeo runs an attractive butterfly house at its centre in Gede Ruins. For more information on this project please visit or contact [email protected]

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Explore the beauty beyound the beach!!

Thinking of a holiday at the coast? ……explore the beauty beyond the beach!

Dreaming of a holiday by the beach, take a minute to find out how the different ecosystems connect. Ecosystems are interrelated and do not exist on their own, just like a lion needs an antelope for food and to survive is the same way we need each other to enhance sustainable development.

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The beach at Watamu – Mida creek.

The Arabuko-Sokoke ecotourism circuit aims at exploring the beauty beyond the beach…… this combines various entitles such as the forest and Mida creek which are ecologically connected and together form the UNESCO biosphere reserve. The circuit is engaged is connecting different conservation and community groups working and living in the area to benefit directly from the eco-tourism activities of the circuit

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Tree platform inthe forest, run by a community group.

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View point in the forest.

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community groups – mangrove planting.

This eventually leads to the areas being conserved. The biggest threat to the forest and Mida creek is exploitation and unsustainable use by local communities in the tourism industry. By supporting the eco-tourism activities and groups that promote conservation and sustaible use of natural resources, you are helping local people earn a living that is directly linked to conserving the natural environment and sharing it with you.

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Sustainable harvesting of coconut trees for wood.

While we were up and about as we were camping with the warden we came across a farmer who had planted coconut trees in his farm and was harvesting them for wood, the wood looked so good.

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wood from coconut trees.

The farmer told us he decided to plant the coconut trees for coconuts and so he can harvest its wood later on. Coconut tree sgrow well in the coast region and they are abundant.

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Farmer ( old man with a walking stick) talks to the warden as children listen

This practise is a good idea and if well adopted within the community will prevent people from poaching wood in the forest.

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A view of the farmers farm with coconut trees and cashewnut trees in the background.

David Ngala

FoASF – Conservation Officer

Encourage the use of Eco-friendly products!!!

The ongoing exhibition at the Gede museum is a way forward in promoting the use of eco-friendly products. The exhibition runs from 15th September till 15th October 2008. The exhibition has brought about different community groups to display their items. The most of their products are made from recycled materials such as recycled video tape is used to make door mats, others include charcoal dust to make charcoal briquettes, bottle tops to make baskets among others.

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Entrance to Gede museum where the exhibition is ongoing.

Various community groups have united in order to make their products in large quantities. Women, disabled people and church groups are among the various community groups that have come together to display their items. Creativity is also a big factor in utilizing the waste products and materials to come up with new products that are friendly to the environment.

The following are some items on display and sell at the Gede museum, if you are in town you can stop by and have a look at them and perhaps purchase some.

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Trays made from Bamboo.

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Bags made from recycled sisal and beads.


Bead work from bones and beads


Candles from honey wax


Footwear from beads and recycled rubber.

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Cards made from recycled paper.

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Photo frmes made from recycled paper.

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Door mats made from recycled video tape.