Research Computer fixed

It has been almost three months since the last post on the electric fence.The research computer that i was using to do Davids work  crashed and had to be taken for a repair.It was a major problem which took some time to be fixed.Because the problem was major,the GIS programme which i use in producing maps  was lost.This also took some time.We have two volunteers here who worked and were able to re install the programme.The computer is now fully fixed.

Research computer fixed

While the computer was not functioning, alot of activities were on with David.David has been going into to the forest with KWS and KFS staff more frequently now.Last week David and the  rangers were in the forest and were able to  rescue a trapped sykes monkey.

Trapped monkey

KFS rangers holding traps

Electric fence

Earlier last week, David went to the western side of the forest around Malanga area where the forest is covered with cynometra thicket.   As he was walking along a path,he met with few community members who were talking about the electric fence project that has stopped.They were complaining that,that side is the only side remaining to be covered by the fence.It is about 5 km area where the fence is yet to be put.

This area is a threat to the community members since wildlife like the elephants could come out through this area and cause problems.Because of this,David took the initiative as a community member to write a letter to the Director of the Kenya Forest Service to ask him to allow for the completion of that remaining area.

In his letter,David told the Director how the idea and the funding of the fence came about and asked,his office to help complete the remaining area. The letter was copied to the forest management team and all the stakeholders of the forest.

Maps ready

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

Patrick

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.

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

KWS follow up on tree poachers campsites in Arabuko-Sokoke

After last weeks survey in which we discovered two camp sites, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) took immediate action and on Wednesday15th David and I were accompanied by the researcher at KWS plus two rangers, to the camp sites. We set out at 8:40am this time with the KWS Car. On our way we saw a dead Eastern Bearded Scrub-Robin( Cercotrichas quadrivirgata). We could not tell the cause of death but David thought it could be a snake bite.

We arrived at Munir site around 9:16am and set up everything to go in. After only 300 metres walk we saw a cut tree log written TOKENI HATARI which literally means LEAVE DANGER. There were two ways we could take this message written on the cut trees 1) The tree poachers were trying to communicate with their partners and warning them that they had been found out, or 2) The message was meant for us, attempting to intimidate  and scare us away from their camp… As we went further to the campsite we saw the same message more than twice. On reaching the camp we were able to judge that the messages were meant for us since there was one which said PLIZ CALL OR SMS FOR MAELEWANO YA KAZI which is to say that “WE SHOULD CALL FOR NEGOTIATIONS”.

At the same site there was another writing which was a warning to the other poachers that they should leave since we had been at the camp site (TOKENI JAMAA WAMEINGIA HADI HAPA meaning “Get out of here! The rangers have come right to this spot!”). They must have seen our footsteps from our first survey.

After taking pictures,we continued with the survey and took another  path. This path had a lot of snares and less tree cuttings. The KWS rangers took note and said they will be surveying that area regularly. It was a very cloudy day and later on the path it rained on us but luckily it was not a heavy downpour. We walked out of the forest at around 1:00pm.

It was  a shocking and scary day since we did not know what the poachers were up to with the intimidating messages and this was the first time that I saw this. It was at least safer with the two rangers who were on high alert after seeing that there were a lot of writings.

Rangers reading message

Rangers reading message

Two tree poachers camps discovered in Arabuko-Sokoke

David  has been continuing with the surveys in the forest while I am still doing the final reports for last year. Last week on 04/02,  David and I went to the forest to do a survey. We went to Komani area to a place known as Munir site, which is in the middle of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest .It was a very rough ride since it is a very sandy road and we were on a motorbike, but David rides well. We arrived safely and started the survey at around 8:30am.

We were very lucky to see a Red duiker from afar immediately. We finished setting the GPS for the survey. This was my very first time to see a Red duiker and I was very excited. I wanted to take a picture, but the camera could not zoom in well ,the duiker was meters away. David explained that before, it was possible to see many of this species but due to destructions in the forest, we were very lucky to see one.

Again, this was a very lucky day for us to see another animal, and, this time, it was a dwarf mongoose. They are very fast animals and we were not able to take a picture, again, since it dashed away on seeing us, though it was very close. As we went further into the forest, we saw alot of destruction on the brachyleana tree species which is mostly used by poachers for carvings.

As we went further, we saw an abandoned camp site which had left overs of the carvings and also feathers of guinea fowl plus lots of paper bags.Abandoned campsiteThis path we took led us to another campsite, which we saw as active and though the poachers were not there. There was clear evidence that they had just left maybe to get other things since they left everything there. Water, cooking utensils, sleeping nets and even few of the carvings were left. We have already reported this to the concerned authorities – Kenya Forest Service(KFS) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), whose support we really appreciate.David and patrick on campOn this day we were not able to finish our survey, as David suddenly started feeling very sick that he had to go rest for 30 minutes. So we ended our survey at around 1:30pm. I had to ride back since David was not well.David resting

Personal history

Hallo

My name is Patrick. It has been a while since I started working with David and I am so excited to be doing this. I have been concertrating so much on the GIS WORK.

I was introduced to conservation in 2003 by a very close friend who was working at Arocha Kenya here in Watamu. After a year in the organisation, i got a job as a monkey reaserach assistant for a student from Columbia University who was doing his Phd research. This was a start of my love for wildlife. I worked for a year and a half and later got the same job from a student in Moi University

I actually worked for four years as a research assistant with different students from different countries. During my work as a research assistant I spent some time using a GPS in the course of my field work. Recognizing it as a valuable research tool, I  wanted to know more about how they work the various advantages of using them. That is when I got to know some volunteers at A Rocha Kenya who not only taught me more about a GPS works and how to effectively use it as a research tool, but also how to use it in conjunction with GIS (Geographic Information Systems), a digital mapping program.

That is what i am now doing with David. I work with the data that he brings from the forest to produce reports that are used in helping inform managers how best to conserve the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Watch this space for more of my personal history.

East Coast Akalat surveys in Arabuko-Sokoke

The East Coast Akalat is a rare bird at the Arabuko-Sokoke forest. It is known to occur in small groups in various other forested patches, however, the single largest known population is found in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest (Matiku et al. 2000). The East Coast Akalat has been classified as Near Threatened (likely to be seriously threatened in the near future), due to habitat fragmentation and loss in the forest in which it occurs (BirdLife Internatinoal 2008, IUCN 2007).  (*From a report written and produced by A Rocha Kenya*)  David usually conducts 12 East Coast Akalat surveys during December of every year. Last year David and Andrew , who is a research assistant at A Rocha Kenya, went to Komani, which is almost in the middle of the forest,

Ngala reading the GPS during the survey

Ngala reading the GPS during the survey

to do this survey.

They went out at 5:50 am and on their way they observed few suni footprints, which they were happy to see, as it is rare to see suni due to the trapping which was been taking place in that part of the forest. Despite the seemingly reduced number of mammal activity in the forest, there was still the usual abundance of birds calling in the forest.

It was a nice morning for a survey and they were able to identify 11 different East Coast Akalats calling along their transect. They were not fortunate enough to see the bird, as it was calling from within dense forest, but they closest one they heard was a mere 5 meters from the trail.The survey ended at 8:15 am.

On their way out of the forest David took Andrew to see the Sokoke Scops Owl; another rare bird in the forest. After hiking 50 meters off the road along a barely discernable path through the dense forest, David pointed out two of the owls roosting 5 meters above their heads in the forest canopy.

David and Patrick are currently working on writing an end-of-the-year annual report to give the the KFS to assist them in the protection and conservation of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. We will hopefully be posting some of his results and observations on the blog in the weeks to come.

Creating maps from David’s snare data

For some time now we have been keen to streamline the process of linking David’s data collection to of illegal activities in the forest with useful outputs that the forest managers can use for the effective control of such activities in the forest. It also helps other conservation organisations such as A Rocha Kenya and NatureKenya focus their community conservation work in the areas which are therefore shown to be where the most illegal activities are happening.

We are therefore delighted that Patrick who has been volunteering with David’s work for a year or more as and when he was able to, is now settled into a regular spot each week to enter David’s data, produce maps of where the snares and cut trees are, and write short reports for the managers, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.

More will be added about Patrick, his artistic skills and interest and expertise in GIS that he has learnt over the last couple of years from visiting volunteers at A Rocha Kenya on the “Meet the Team” page – watch this space!

Patrick entering data and producing maps

Patrick entering data and producing maps

Patrick has started working on maps and reports for David and we’ll be posting examples of what he has managed to produce together with updates and news about David’s work – Patrick’s task will be to be writing on the blog and giving you information about the critical work that David is doing. Please respond with comments and also if you are willing to contribute to assist in covering both David & Patrick’s costs, that would be hugely appreciated.

Colin Jackson – FoASF Chairman