Tag Archives: FoASF

GIS training in Samburu

GIS Training in Samburu.

Geographical Information System (GIS) is a conservation tool that is slowly gaining momentum in today’s conservation world. Recently the Ecological Society of Eastern Africa also know as ESEA organized for a GIS training that was held at the Earth Watch Institute in Samburu – Kenya.

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Participants at the GIS training.

The training targeted users of GIS in the field in conservation work, its aim was to help users become familiar with the use of GIS as a conservation tool and how to use it in mapping issues of importance in conservation.

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Participants are shown how to use a GPS.

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Elepehants at Sambur Nature Reserve, where we carried out our field work.

The training drew participants from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This training gave the participants insight on the of GIS and the use of a GPS as a data entry tool. The FoASF manager, Caroline Lumosi was among the participants who benefited from the training. The new skill gained will be of a valuable resource for FoASF in mapping the illegal activities in the forest.

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GIS training participants.

For more information concerning training opportunities with ESEA kindly visit www.ecsea.org

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FoASF benefits from Darwin Community Based Conservation Film Training

This week I will be in Naivasha for a one week training on making community based conservation films with support from Dr. david Harper of the University of Leicester in the UK and the Darwin Intiative.

The course is am enhancement of a pervious course we did in July, I was among a group of trainees from Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia who participated in the first training where we made community films on various components of the environment, basically this week will be a further editing course to use the same material to make a different film targeting different audiences. at the end of the day these films will be used as an educative tool to community members, policy markers, school children… name it, they will be distrubuted to various organizations and institutions to achieve this purpose.

I left Gede on Friday evening for Naivasha, I had a quick stop over in Nairobi then proceeded to Naivasha together with the Darwin – Leicester team. We arrived at our rendezvous at United Kenya club and left from Naivasha just after 3 pm. The trip to Naivasha was great although I have been to Naivasha many times, I never stop loving it, and its scenery, the great rift valley being one of them, it stretches all the way from Ethiopia all the way down to Tanzania, it is said to be an aftermath of the great tectonic movement when the earth was being formed and what was left was a huge trench that has become a great valley with undulating hills and very beautiful scenery, the look out point stood at about 800ft above sea level, overlooking this great cliff was this massive deep trench with beauty scenery no words can explain this.

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The hills at the escarpments.

The weather here was cool and then slightly moved to cold, the sun was quickly disappearing beyond the clouds and as we continued on at the rift valley the surrounding vegetation was a vast of green carpet, all around was green, green and more green, wow, now I may sound like a tourist yet am not but at this point am proud to be living in such a beauty country like Kenya. The roads were great, smooth and I left like we should just continue driving forever, the traffic was not as bad although Naivasha highway is well know to be a transit point to western part of Kenya hence huge truck filled the road, from oil transporters to flowers exporters name it all sorts of truck could be seen on the highway.

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One of the vehicle we used passing the rift valley.

As we proceeds on among the vast greenness I saw dots of white, at first I did not know what they represented but as we drove close by I actually identified that those dots of white were actually IDP camps (internal displaced people), one of the outcome of the post election violence, it was not a pretty sight as I somehow felt sad that in the midst of all this beauty was these people who have no home and no where to go, that was really sad.

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view from the rift valley.

I slowly drifted away reading the newspaper as the rest of the team was first asleep I guess from the exhaustion of traveling from far one of them was from Tanzania and the other from Ethiopia and our trainer is from UK, the newspaper somehow seemed interesting , well that is you are crazy about Obama as I am or do I say all Kenyans are or is it all Africans, the world.. whatever call it what you may but am sure glad Obama won, for me it represents a beacon of hope that I can make it in life if am determined to and focus on it, it was great reading about him and I guess for the next few months the pare will be just Obama this and Obama that and Michelle this and first family and first dog… ok sometimes it gets crazy so drifting from the Obama maniac from the papers my eyes focus on yet something interesting to me just as we were approaching Naivasha, mount Longonot which is one of Kenya crater mountain could be seen from a distance, again the view was great, as the sun set in the horizon the beautiful shadow it cast made the mountain look more beautiful than I have even seen it. A few meters from that was this small wood lot of eucalyptus trees that ere farmed form timber, I think this is a great idea and reduces pressure on indigenous trees for timber, just farther on the magnificent view of the lake could be seen, Lake Naivasha a fresh water lake in Kenya is well know for its biodiversity from the fish eagle, the hippos and others found in the lake, and before long as I was enjoying the view of the lake, we had arrived to the flower town, Naivasha can be referred to as the flower farm of Kenya as it has the highest number of flower farms, we headed down at south lake where we were to set camp at Kijabe farm in tented camps. We will be here for the next one week and already am liking it, it’s a good feeling begin away from the ocean and forest and enjoying the different weather, as I got to bed I cover myself with two blankest and have two jumpers a very contrast of what I have in the coast, we star the training tomorrow as I decide to hit the sack early to be fresh tomorrow morning.

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Thank you for your help in the forest (more photos)

This is to say thank you very much to all who made the work in the forest possible. We especially want to thank Nature Kenya and all the Nature Kenya members who participated, Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke members, Kenya wildlife service for their support, Watamu turtle watch, A Rocha Kenya and the Arabuko-Sokoke forest guide association. With all your combined effort we were able to achieve a great task of clearing up to 3 Km of nature trail at the Elephant track, it could not have been possible without you. Thank you so much for the time and effort you all put in this.

Long live Arabuko-Sokoke Forest!

Here are some photos to sum it all up!

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During bird watching.

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At the forest.

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Having fun

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At mida creek

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At the tree platform

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More fun!

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saying goodbye…..

Caroline

FoASF Manager

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Final day at the forest!

Final day at the forest!

After the long day and the near encounter with an elephant, the crew may have just need this trip to mida creek. Mida creek is a small creek (ok not small but big creek in my opinion), it is a great place where birds feed, migrant birds can also be found here and they come here to feed as well, the place is spectacular, if you are a keen birder and love to see all types of birds, then I suggest a trip to mida would do just fine.

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at mida creek.

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peter confirming the bird he saw.

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Peter takes a closer look – at the mud flat

So they headed to mida creek and we drove to the entrance towards the board walk and bird hide. This board walk is really something, built by A Rocha Kenya for their ASSETs programme ( for more information on this vist the A Rocha blog or ASSETS blog or www.arocha.org) the place is built on suspended board that are held together by long strong ropes, the broad walk suspended above the mangrove roots. Its really cool, at first walking on the board may seem like you are walking on air, however there are two ropes that you can hold on to give to a balance, if you are afraid of heights, well try it , your fear will be gone in a second! ( although its not so high), the board walk is about 260 meters walk so breeze yourself before you start walking, as you walk there are stop point along the walk that have more information on mida creek and the mangrove, when you get to the end of the board walk the view of the ocean is great, you can see the mouth of the creek and about three islands if you use a good pair of binoculars, at the mud flat you can be able to see birds feeding, its great!

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board walk at mida.

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Noreen tries to get across at the board walk.

After the great afternoon at mida creek we got back to the camp site at the forest to prepare for dinner and the long day ahead. The following day we embarked on mission – clean up watamu beach, we headed to watamu, we quickly took a pit stop at watamu turtle watch, Rob the Project officer was kind enough o takes us round and explain to us all about watamu turtle watch and local ocean trust (for more information visit Watamu Turtle Watch blog or email [email protected]),

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Rob talking to us about the turtle.

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after a briefing on Watamu Turtle Watch we headed to A Rocha Kenya for a short briefing before embarking on the beach for the clean up, we started the clean up at the beach outside A Rocha towards Turtle bay, this seemed like a long day as the scotching sun made it seem much harder but finally we managed to reach our target. Our mission was accomplished!

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Baech clean up.

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rubbish collected.

We headed back to camp to have lunch and visit the famous Nyari view point, this is the point where you can see the canopy of the forest, the view is great, what a way to climax the trip, we were done, we cleared the nature trail I think more that 3 km of forest road was cleared, we had fun, we saw the beach and now it was time for the team to head back home, back home in Nairobi. As the team was packing up, a certain feeling of sadness engulfed me, I sat and thought, here there are we thought they wouldn’t make it but they have, that really touched me, well done the team!!! I thought to myself, and off they went, leaving Arabuko-Sokoke forest trail better than before, well done team, that was great work!

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hard at work.

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part of the clearde trail.

Asante sana – Thank you very much.

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Day three of forest trail clearing

Day three of forest trail clearing.

That evening as a reward I took the group to visit one of the community based projects of Arabuko-Sokoke forest, the Kipepeo butterfly project. This project is located at Gede Ruins Museum, the project has become a success and has become a replica in other parts of the country. It started as a simple idea to help the community living adjacent to the forest value the forest and earn an income, the founders of the project saw fit for the community to start farming butterflies and exporting there pupa and in return the community gets income. The project now works with 27 other community groups and exports butterfly pupa to countries such as Japan, UK and USA for displays in museum and also for replica in fashion designs.

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getting a lesson on butterflies inside the butterfly house.

The group was excited to learn about this project and for some it was a dream come true to finally visit Kipepeo after hearing and learning about it from media sources. We proceeded on to Gede ruins to learn more about the ancient Swahili town and why the occupants of this town left in such a rush!

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the team being shown around at the Gede ruins

It was great to learn how these people lived, according to me they were real conservationist, our guide Samuel explain to us how they used to reuse their water and how they would filter it, they had very interesting ways of living which were eco-friendly. That afternoon after the tour at Gede we headed to blue bay beach in Watamu for more exploring of the water.

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the excited team at Gede.

Day three saw the group arise early to carry out the morning birding, they were joined by Rob Markham of Watamu Turtle Watch a keen birder and Jessica Rawley a Peace Corp volunteer with Nature Kenya. The morning birding was great and they were able to identify some new species to them.

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Keen birders in the group.

After breakfast, the crew headed straight to work. This particular day seem a lot more easy than the previous days, could it be because they were getting used to the hot temperatures or because they were getting used to holding the pangas and slashers ( a type of machete) ? Work went on quite smooth and it seemed we were to wind up quite fast.

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one, two three, pull…….

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and the ladies clear.

As we carried on with our work, part of the team was destructed to some rather wired noise, it wasn’t the noise of a axe cutting a tree, or a slasher on the weeds or a panga ( a type of machete) on the shrubs, neither was it the noise of one teammate telling the rest to watch out as a cut tree fell, no that was not the destructing noise, rather it was the noise on an elephant in the bush, would you believe it? An Elephant!!!!, good thing I didn’t see it because I think I would have fainted due to fear, and good thing it was a lone as it quickly went away, what remained was the dung and the mountain of sand it had dug up. That was a close call.

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a close up of the dung.

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Dug up sand, done by the elephant.

On our way out of the forest we visited one of the tree platforms in the forest built by A Rocha Kenya, the view from the platform was magnificant, no word can describe it, what a way to close the day!

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part of the team at the tree platform.

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background view of a swamp from the tree platform

We headed back to camp to prepare for lunch and visit the nearby mida creek later on in the afternoon.

Caroline

FoASF Manager

To be continued

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Day two of nature trail clearing

Day two of nature trail clearing in the forest.

Day one of the trail clearing ended well, with most volunteers exhausted and drained by the hot sun, it was all the same a very successful day as a good portion of the trail was cleared and our KWS transport vehicle could now pass with ease.

The team was so exhausted after about five hours of serious work in the forest the previous day.

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Part of the cleared trail.

The guys decided to visit the beach, as some of them have never been to the coast and had never seen the ocean, you know living quite close to the ocean you tend to think that everyone has seen the ocean only to find out you are wrong, I was a bit shocked when some of the volunteers admitted that they have never seen the ocean, this made me open my mind more to reality.

Day two saw the volunteers rise before the morning sun to do birding, David Ngala our conservation officer and a guide at Arabuko-Sokoke forest was delighted to direct the group in the birding activity.

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Early morning birding.

Later on that morning, we embarked on the hard work, slashers, axes, and pangas ( a type of machete) were among the tools were took with us. Working as a team we mobilized ourselves and we were able to clear a large portion.

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come on lets clear this.

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Yuda busy chopping a tree that had blocked the road.

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Mercy is helped clear the shrub by the KWS ranger.

We took a break at mid day to look back at our progress then embark back on the work.

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Break time. – the team having snacks.

It was song and laughter as we continued working, we figured making a bit of fun easiness the job, and true to that before long, we were done for the day, only to begin again the next day.

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lets have a laugh – Onesums seeem to be telling the rest.

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End of a tiresome day – the team waiting to be transported back to camp.

A day well spent, as we waited to be ferried back to camp, we couldnt wait to relax at Gede ruins and the beach!

To be continued…..

Caroline

FoASF – Manager

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Environmental awareness at Ganda

I travelled north of Arabuko-Sokoke forest to a place called Ganda at the chief’s office to meet with the chief to discuss how we can educate the community on environmental issues. The chief was to arrange a chiefs baraza to gather more community members to educate them on environmental issues.

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Tree nursery

David Ngala

Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest

Conservation Officer

E-mail:[email protected]

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Making use of the available resources!

I traveled by piki piki (motorcycle) about 98 kilometers from Gede forest station to an area called Mrima wa ndege. I was requested by the Kenya Wildlife Service warden to educate the local community on environmental conservation.

Mrima wa ndege location is a big area consisting of three sub-locations. The area is dominated by shrubs and a few trees some Brachystegia species which are scattered throughout the area. The population is sparse and hence the community faces problems during the dry seasons , their crops die due to lack of water and they have to travel long distances in search of water for their crops, animals and for drinking.

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A cut tree.

The community is constantly faced with problems of elephant invading their land, some of these elephants move from Tsavo East national park to Arabuko-Sokoke forest passing through the human settlements and shrubs. The ecosystem is conducive for elephants who find their way to Arabuko-Sokoke forest.

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one of the elephants trap

The high level of poverty in the community has led them to destroy their environment, they cut down trees for building, for poles and charcoal. They also hunt wild animals to earn an income and sustain their families. This location has been facing food shortages over the past few years and the government recently donated food aid in form of maize to some families.

While at Mrima wa ndege I was very fortunate to meet with the three assistant chiefs of the three sub location and also all the village elders. This was a good opportunity for me to speak to the chiefs and elders to share my views on their issues and educate them on how they can use their land to earn an income without destroying their environment. After a long and fruitful discussion, the leaders were receptive and welcoming to my suggestions and they farther went a head to propose having a community park as a way to earning income and the villagers will eventually realize the economic value of animals such as elephants and hence conserve them.

David Ngala

FoASF – Conservation Officer

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.

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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.

Moving to Arabuko

Hi sorry we have not been online for a while, we were having network issues, kindly bear with us.

Hi this is Carol,

The long awaited journey has finally come, I will be moving to Arabuko this coming weekend and I hope to be meeting up with the rest of our team that is David and Mary. I have been in Nairobi following up on a few details for FoASF – Friends of Arabuko Sokoke and I got the chance to meet up with part of the team at Wildlife direct who have been a big help in helping us restructure our blog.

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A path in Arabuko Sokoke Forest.

As I take up this position at Arabuko, am anxious to meet David Ngala and it will be an honour to work with him after having heard so much about him. FoASF needs some revamping in its activities and this will be one of my duties, to reactivate the activities at FoASF and to guide and help David in his field research work.

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A tree platform at Arabuko Sokoke Forest

While in Nairobi I also got a chance to speak to Friends of Nairobi Arboretum (FONA) and Friends of City Park (FoCP) who were quite encouraging and gave us tips of how to turn around FoASF into an active organization.

I also got chance to meet with Colin Jackson a while back and he was able to brief me on FoASF and what FoASF has done so far, in as much as I will be technically running the show on my own with the help of my team and the A Rocha team at Mwamba.

I hope the net at Watamu or rather Gede will be fairly ok, so that I may be updating you how far we have come in our efforts as FoASF.

Thanks for all your support and I look forward to hearing from you guys as well,

Laterz

Carol