Tag Archives: forest

Coastal Conservation Issues

David writes: It is said that that in the past, the Coastal Forest reached all the way from Mozambique up to Somalia. But due to growing human population many areas have been settled and the forest has gone.

The coastal people still remember the past situation compared to today. Every corner of the coastal forest is still giving thanks to the British Government before independence who demarcated and gazetted the natural forest as a Forest Reserve, protected by its own department and as a result the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is now the largest forest on the Kenya Coast.SNV31611

Some years after independence, some politicians began to demand some areas of the forest to be given to the community to settle. They did this to further their own campaigns. We are very thankful to the community elders around the forest who managed to stop the degazettement, and thereafter they were helped by the Birdlife International Conservation Project from the UK with community projects and later various other donors who supported the construction of an electric fence around the forest to stop elephants from destroying their crops.

SNV31400On the Kenyan Coast, during dry seasons, some areas of grass and plantations catch fire. In the last dry season, we had fires in the plantations and some grass areas, and a large number of hectares were burned. Birds like rollers and bee-eaters fly into the smoke to look for insects escaping from the fire and I found some that by bad luck some were burned.

This year, there has been global climate change. We were informed by the Kenya Meteorological Department that there will be very little rain during the coming rainy season. We were told our planting should happen very soon before the rains stop. The majority of farmers in the coast had planted maize as their staple food. Some of the crops are almost ready, many are not – and the rains now seem to have stopped.

In the forest, there are some water ponds but due to the global climate change, the rains were not sufficient to fill the ponds. The result of this is that the wild animals will suffer from water shortage.

The Kenya Wildlife Service at Arabuko-Sokoke Forest faces a hard job to help the animals get water up to the next rainy season, which arrives in September. This is a major challenge and we are as yet unsure what strategy they will employ to solve the problem.

Bush meat survey in Arabuko-Sokoke forest

Bush meat hunting in Arabuko-Sokoke forest is a major problem. Past conservation actions did not fully address the problem hence its recurrence. The most targeted species include Aders duiker, Golden Rumped Sengi, and Sokoke bush tailed mongoose.

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Illegal bush meat.

Two past surveys done in October and November, 2006 revealed an alarming situation on the game meat hunting. In just three weeks, 1087 snares were located and destroyed in the nature reserve. To estimate the number of traps in the entire forest may be difficult but there are all indications that there could be thousands of snares and other traps in which hundreds of animals are caught annually.

Local community has low awareness of the impact of their actions, the risk of catching insurable diseases and the legal implications of engaging in Bushmeat practices. Alternative sources of proteins do exist but they either are not aware of them or lack the resources and skills to adopt them.

Just three weeks ago David Ngala and Lucy Kapombe carried out a bush meat survey at the nature reserve in Arabuko-Sokoke forest and they were able to retrieve 113 snares.

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David Ngala – facilitating a bushmeat awareness meeting.

With support from KNH-NABU (Birdlife Germany), Nature Kenya together

with the bush meat awareness committee are carrying out a bush meat awareness programme in Arabuko-Sokoke forest and the surrounding communities.

This programme is aimed to create awareness on the negative effects of bushmeat hunting to the community and alternatives the community can use. Bushmeat hunting has led to various health implications such as the Ebola virus, rift valley fever, rabies, yellow fever among others, these infection have jumped from primates to people on at least seven separate occasions in recent history.

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Day one of the forest trail clearing.

Day one of the forest trail clearing.

So this group of young guys from Nature kenya – Nairobi decided to come all the way to the coast in Arabuko-Sokoke forest, and to do what? To help clear the nature trails in Arabuko-Sokoke forest.

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The camp site at sokoke pipit at the forest.

They set up camp at the forest camp site, they would be there for four days so they better have things set up right, from putting up the tents, to the kitchen and assigning duties of cooking and washing, everything had to be in order.

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setting up the tents.

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who knows how to cook best? Onesmus or Susan?

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watch me cook! Tony seems to be telling the crew.

I must admit the first thing that came into my mind when I saw them was – will they really do it?, can they really manage?, how about the heat will it drain them before they begin?, and the women can they make it?, so to give them the benefit of the doubt we set out to the elephant track a trail in the forest that is used to tourist who especially want to see the elephant. The elephant roam around the area freely and many times we find elephant dung on the roads, fallen trees and huge mountains of dug up sand, this was one of the trails that really needed a lot of work and this is an intriguing trail as well, as elephant can surprise you any time.

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Fresh elephnat dung on the trail.

So off we went, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) provides a truck to ferry the 18 volunteers to the site, the long journey to the site was really tiresome and I kept on praying that we don’t say “hallo to mr ndovu” – the elephants. A trained ranger accompanied us to the site, but still my heart was in my mouth. Since I was somehow leading the team I had to show some sign of bravery, and not my fear be revealed.

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Preparing to be ferried to the site.

The trail were in such a state that needed help like yesterday, trees overgrown blocking the roads, all types of trees, thorny trees, shrubs and even dead logs.

And the work began, it didn’t take me long before I thought I think they will make it…….will they?

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And the work began!

To be continued…….

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