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.
- KFS rangers holding traps
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
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.This 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.On 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 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.
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.
On 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.
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!
During bird watching.
At the forest.
At mida creek
At the tree platform
Del.icio.us : Arabuko-Sokoke forest. Nature Kenya, FoASF, Friends of arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya Wildlife Service.
Zooomr : Arabuko-Sokoke forest. Nature Kenya, FoASF, Friends of arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya Wildlife Service.