Tag Archives: Arabuko-Sokoke

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

Donations possible once again to support David Ngala and his forest conservation work

After WildlifeDirect were sadly unable to continue handling the donations to all the different projects they support on the website, it took those of us who’re not so blog / computer / internet savvy a bit of time to figure out how to get a paypal account set up and link it to the blog.

A huge thanks to Hannah who is volunteering for A Rocha Kenya and who has been willing to help get this set up – and who has done a great job in doing it. You will now find a ‘Donate’ button on the right hand side of the screen which links to the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest paypal account – of which 100% of any donation made will directly fund David Ngala’s work with conservation of this amazing last remaining patch of East African coastal forest.

As can be read on this blog, David is active in surveying for illegal activities such as poaching of trees and animals in the forest and also spends time talking with community members and persuading them to protect the forest rather than go cutting it and trapping in it. David also in involved in doing bird surveys – he being The Best bird guide in the forest and hugely knowledgable about where to find birds in it.

David is supported by Patrick who is there to ensure that David’s work will not just stay in notebooks and computer hard drives but will end up on the desk of the Warden and Forester of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest so that they can take the appropriate action where possible to reduce the illegal activities.

The main costs for the work are David’s salary and the motorbike costs for getting him into the forest to do his work. Patrick has been working mostly voluntarily but we are keen to give him something to support the really important part he plays in the project.

For one illegal activity survey it costs on average just US$18 to cover the fuel and maintenance for David’s motorbike.

David is currently part-supported by some very supportive and generous supporters of his work but we need more to cover the full costs. We are therefore looking for any donations from even as little as $10 – every cent will make a difference to making sure the work can be sustained. To really make a difference, however, we would invite you to join us with making a standing, regular donation of $25 per month. Just 10 people doing this would cover almost all of the core costs of the work.

One other request is for a donation to buy David a new tent for camping in the forest when he does his fieldwork. His current one is literally falling apart and is seriously not worth even calling a tent. For this we’re looking for $250 to get a reasonable one and that will last.

THANK YOU for those who have supported David and the work of FoASF in the past – and thank you in advance to anyone who is keen to help with this critical work.

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The nest of the eagle shown in the picture below has been active for about 20 years and I have known it for the last 8 years. In October last year I took a visitor to the site and we both saw the eagle on its nest but there was a tree close by that the bird used to rest on before going to its nest which had been felled (see other posts).

Crowned Eagle Nest that I found in forest last year

This picture I posted last year showing the nest and the adjacent cut tree.

I reported the matter to the Kenya Forest Service and then later took them to the site. The Forester decided that forest guards should return to the site every day to see if the poachers had returned for the timber as they had not yet split the trunk into planks. However over the following days that they went to check, they didn’t find anyone there.

After some time I went on a safari for two days to Mlima wa Ndege on the western side of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest which is 80km from the Gede forest station. I had gone to educate the community about setting up a community run nature reserve in their area.

When I returned back I was told the shocking story by one of the game rangers of how the tree had been cut by a power saw and that it happened over four days but during the night. This activity took place from 7/12/09 to 11/12/09. I was told that the forest rangers and the forest guards had been informed when it was happening because people around Mida and Arabuko area could hear the power saw working in the forest during the night.

According to the story I got, when the forest guards and game rangers heard about this they took the boundary road on the north side of the forest instead of taking the elephant track which would take them faster to the place. I was told that they did this because there were many elephants on the tracks and it was therefore dangerous for them.

This information made me feel bad because I thought that the rangers and guards would use their thunder flashes to move the elephants away from the track but they decided not to do so and therefore missed the poachers!

The day I went back there with the rangers we saw how the tree had been split into pieces of timber and that they had collected almost everything as you can see in this picture. 
you can still see the eagle nest in the background


I guess at least they tried and it was very good to be able to work with them and show them where the nest was. Let’s hope next time they are able to get their quicker and catch the poachers.

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Asante sana – Thank you to our suppoters.

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A photo of the Sokoke scops owl – David’s favourite bird.

We are extremely grateful to all our supports, donors, members and faithful bloggers who have in one way of the other made a significant impact in our work.

We are grateful especially to those who have been able to donate through this blog. Your support and contribution has enabled us to keep on working at what we do best.

We may not be able to acknowledged all of you but would like to specifically thank the following for their donations that we received through this blog.

· Jeremy R for your donation of US$ 27.50,

· Steven G for your donation of US$ 100.

· David F for you donation of US$ 200.

· Emerentiane M for your donation of US$ 2,000

· Theresa S for your donation of US $ 250

· Theresa S for your donation of US$ 25

· Sherri S for your donation of US$ 25

We are also grateful to our partners and members for their continued support. We acknowledge the following for their guidance and support in forest surveys and monitoring work: A Rocha Kenya, Nature Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Wildlifedirect, Sunbird tours, Watamu stakeholders association, Local ocean trust, Conserve forever, and our faithful blog readers among others

To you all we say “Asante sana” (Thank you very much).

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David Ngala (hugging a tree?) estimating the width of the baobab tree.

14 year old boy caught poaching!

Hi this is David,

Over the past weeks there has been a lot of activity here at Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. More and more people continue to poach wild game as well as trees for timber and fuel wood despite the joint efforts of Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and other support groups such as the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke forest (FoASF)

Last week I took some forest guards to the western part of Arabuko-Sokoke forest. A place known as Malanga in the local language. I was showing them various paths the locals use, and some that I suspect the poachers use for hunting down game meat.

Accompanied by the armed forest guards, we took to three different transects, and we randomly walked to the three points that I had marked on my GPS. Two of the way points that I had selected had snare activity, poles were tied in ropes at the two places.

We took a visible path along the nature reserve boundary and followed it east wards, about eight kilometres from the edge of the forest, before we suddenly came across two young boys and one of them had a dead female suni (a type of antelope) in his possession. On seeing the forest guards, one of the boys ran away while the other one was caught by the guards.

Boy n suni2.jpg

The young 14 year boy handcuffed by the forest guards.

The 14 year old boy later confessed to the forest guards that his father sent him to the forest to trap animals. His father had about five hundred different snares which he uses to snare animals such as the suni, dicker, bush pigs and at times buffalos. The boy was later detained and his apprehended.

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Young boy confesses of poaching the suni.

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The boy’s father handcuffed with the suni on his neck.

We are slowly having progress with getting the poachers as we have backing from the Kenya Forest Service, however the illegal activities still continue and the forest continues to be destroyed.

Surveying paths entering the forest

One of the tasks that David has been working on over the past month or so has been to follow the boundary of the entire forest and, using a GPS, mark each path entering forest and record how used it is. This is to get an indication of how used the forest is and to identify the most appropriate paths to follow in order to search for traps and cut trees. It is a very time consuming job as he usually leaves the motorbike at the edge of the forest and follows the path a short way to see if it really is a proper path leading somewhere or is just a very short one that peters out quickly.

Below is a snapshot of the data that I just downloaded off the GPS David’s borrowing to do the work. It’s downloaded into the Map Source program from Garmin and will later be properly mapped using a full GIS program.

Unedited Waypoints downloaded from GPS David is borrowing

You can make out the boundary of the forest where David has been following it. There are still two sections that he needs to do on the north west and the eastern edge. The mass of waypoints to the north-east of the forest is around the forest station and where David has done quite a few surveys for illegal activity.

Bird surveys and cut trees

It was a little while back now that this happened as we’ve been having difficulty getting information to Colin who’s got the internet access for posting blogs, but I wanted to tell you about one of our typical surveys we do in the forest. It was one of our regular surveys in the Arabuko Sokoke forest; actually it was very cold that morning as we drove our motorbike to our designated transect. Our target was doing a common bird point count survey for the first two and a half of the morning hours and then doing forest disturbances as it was to be hot for the birds.

Albert Baya
Albert Baya, an A Rocha Kenya Field technician, who has been with me for almost 14 years doing the research and monitoring of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest and the surrounding, stopped counting the birds and pointed out some cut stems which were almost 2 metres from the transect, trying to look more further away, it was bad to see the most vulnerable trees were cut.

In a distance of 5 km we were able to count 46 cut stems, for wood and carving, 4 active campsites and 2 old
camps which we thought they moved two or three months ago.

cut tree stump

Whilst our forest is being managed by an active Forest Management Team, we are actually frustrated to see all these activities still happening.

We have several vulnerable and endangered bird, plant, butterfly, lizard species in the forest, but on the day of this survey we saw Clarke’s Weavers about 25 in one group of which we used to see 50+, and we were not able to see any male actively feeding on a Brachystegia tree. The Clarke’s Weaver breeding ground is not yet known and now the feeding grounds are being destroyed, we need to have a support to help stop this distraction otherwise we will lose our heritage. The picture here is one that was taken by Steve Garvie who is a birder and photographer who I took into the forest last year to see the specialities. These are the best photos I have seen of Clarke’s Weaver and we like to say “asante sana” to Steve for letting us use them.

Clarke's Weaver by Steve Garvie