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!!!
David received an invitation two weeks ago to atted an ornithological congress by the Pan African Ornithological Congress (POAC) which will be held at Arusha in Tanzania.The congress will be held on 14th to 21st of October.
PAOC is a regular congress which is held after every four years to talk about African Ornithology with the aim of promoting conservation of African birds.
He has been requested to make a presentation of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and the bird monitoring programme he has been working on.
David in one of his Bird surveys
It has been a while now and David has not gone to the forest.Over the last one month David was struggling on taking his daughter in and out of hospital and unfortunately last month his daughter passed on.It has been a tough time for David and he is still very destructed from this loss.His daughter died on 10th of April and was burried on 14th of the same month.David has been in his village ever since and he came back just a week ago.
However there has been alot of work going on in the office, finalizing the data entry and arranging all the data from the previous year.I have been able to produce last years maps and have started doing this years maps and report writing.It has been very interesting to see the maps after a struggle in putting all the the data in order.This is the beginning of what we will be doing every month, to produce monthly maps and reports to help the Arabuko-Sokoke team in conserving the forest
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.
Last week ,we decided to visit Munir site again but this time we went to the other side of the area.Accompanied by the KWS rangers, we started the survey at 9:00am.We saw alot of human paths which indicates that there is human activity.As we walked further in we started to see the number of trees that had been cut down.
This side of Munir has been really destroyed and it is the brachyleana huillensis tree that has been greatly damaged. This tree is mostly used by poachers for carvings.We even saw more trees that have been marked and might be the next ones to be cut down.We did a quick count and saw that there were 72 cut trees from the survey.
David said that he would like to return again to check on the marked trees and also go further in to see if there are any activities. Throughout the survey we did not find any snares which is very good and also there were alot of four toed elephant shrew paths..lots
And more thanks to Jacques for a second generous donation.
Many thanks to David M for his donation, which is much appreciated by everyone involved in David Ngala’s work.
Many thanks to Jacques for his recent donation to David Ngala’s project.
As a volunteer with A Rocha Kenya I have been helping Mzee Ngala as he goes about his work in the forest and seen some interesting things as we go. He picks me on his motorbike early in the morning and we head out to different areas of the forest. After what can be a rather bumpy ride we slide under the elephant fence and choose a path going into the trees. These trails are used primarily for extracting resources from the forest, only a few are used for access. As we walk through the trees we primarily come across stumps, initially quite small and then larger as we go deeper, this is because felling a large tree near the edge there is a higher risk of being heard or seen. These trees are used for a variety of uses, including timber, carvings, building poles and charcoal. The photo shows Mzee Ngala and a man who had collected some poles for selling. A classic case of needing to make a small amount of money for his family to eat and turning to the forest to provide.
Mzee Ngala can tell what the trees are used for by looking at the species and how they are cut and even looking for signs on the ground around the stump. He can also tell the species with great precision; I feel very ignorant watching him work! We record all the information about these trees as we go in order to build a bigger picture of how resources are extracted across the forest in different localities.
In addition there we occasionally find traps and snares set for bushmeat, like the footsnare in the photo which is used to catch Bushbuck. The tra
ps are often for duiker, a kind of small antelope and also elephant-shrew. Unfortuantely both of these traps indiscrimantely catch the endangered Ader’s duiker
found only here and Zanzibar and Golden Rumped Elephant-Shrew
, which are now restricted to Araboke-Sokoke forest. Trapping is solely for subsistence and is never sold and so quite low intensity compared to other areas in Africa, but the threat to these restricted species makes it critical to survey and try and prevent these activities. Over the past few years David has amassed a great quantity of these data, which we are now analysing in order to better inform Kenya Wildlife Services and other stakeholders to help stem the flow of illegal extraction from this unique forest.
Technorati Tags: Arabuko-sokoke, bush meat, logging, illegal, survey, poverty
In the last twenty to thirty years the coastal regions of Kenya have seen a large population increase. More people means that more houses are required, and so villages and towns in this area have grown, creating a pressure for building materials. These materials include wooden poles and timber, which are sourced locally, from both inside the Araboko-Sokoke and the surrounding area. The collection of these building materials constitutes the majority of illegal cutting, which David observes in the forest
Around Arabuko-Sokoke, in the same communities which engage in illegal cutting of trees for building materials, exist government endorsed community conservation groups. David wants to encourage and teach these groups how to grow tree nurseries, in order to replant areas of the forest affected by the building trade. In addition this will also help repair damage created by elephants in the forest.
David will train people to collect seeds from different indigenous tree species, which are then planted in seed beds in their villages. These seeds are watered and when they germinate they are transferred to polythene tubes to protect them. Once they are around a foot high they are taken to the forest to be planted, after which mother nature takes over. To realise David’s vision a small amount of funding is required to help him reach these villages and train them and also to buy the materials, such as the polythene tubes. From small seeds great things can grow!!