Keeping the Taita Apalis alive

The Taita Hills, ancient hills rising up from the dry plains, host a rich and diverse range of animal and plant species. Natural forests scattered across these hills are the sole homes to birds such as the Taita Apalis and Taita Thrush.  The Taita Apalis is a tiny bird only found in the Taita Hills –nowhere else. Together with the Taita Thrush, it is considered Critically Endangered – that is, at risk of extinction. As a result, the Taita Hills forests have been designated as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). The Taita Apalis population has drastically dropped from around 300 pairs to 200 pairs between 2001 and 2017, according to researchers. Currently, the Taita Apalis is only found in four small forest patches in Vuria, Msidunyi, Iyale and Mghange areas. Its population, already small, has been threatened by drought, habitat loss and predation.

Over the years, Taita Hills forests have been undergoing massive degradation. More than ninety per cent of these indigenous forests have been cleared for agriculture and forest plantations, putting at risk the survival of the Taita endemics – birds, amphibians and insects found only in the Taita Hills..

Nature Kenya in partnership with DOF – the BirdLife Partner in Denmark – through funding from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through CISU (Civil Society in Development), has been running the “Integrating Livelihoods and Conservation – People Partner with Nature for Sustainable Living” program in the Taita Hills. The long-term objective of the Program is to: reduce the destruction of forested IBAs and contribute to the realization of best participatory forest management practices for the benefit of all.

To achieve the objective, the program is supporting the formation of two Community Forest Associations (CFAs), which is still ongoing, and also facilitated the development of forest management plans for Vuria and Chawia forests. The program is also supporting groups engaged in livelihood activities such as beekeeping, fish farming, tree nursery, handicrafts and butterfly farming.

Protecting the natural habitats of threatened species is key to their survival. To this end, Nature Kenya is piloting a habitat restoration project in two plots in the Taita hills. This project seeks to convert a portion of exotic plantation back to natural forest. Extraction of exotic tree species has been successfully carried out on the plots. Results from this pilot project will provide guidance for upscaling forest restoration initiatives in Taita and other forests in Kenya. Over 15,000 indigenous trees have so far been planted across forests in Taita Hills by various stakeholders.

Additionally, a privately-owned forest plot of about 6 hectares has been leased at Msidunyi. This small forest fragment is expected to provide habitat for six per cent of the world’s Taita Apalis population. Funding for the lease was secured from the World Land Trust, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and African Bird Club.

To minimize dependency on forests for firewood, Nature Kenya has been promoting the use of energy-saving stoves in schools and households. Six primary schools and over 600 households have had the stoves installed. Schools using the stoves have recorded a sixty per cent reduction in firewood consumption and increased learning time for students.

As a way of carrying the conservation message forward, Nature Kenya has been working closely with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) to conduct an awareness campaign highlighting the importance of conserving the Taita Apalis. The campaign seeks to sensitize communities about this threatened bird species via schools near Msidunyi, Vuria, Chawia, Ngangau and Iyale forests.

 

Double celebrations for migratory birds 

In October 2017 on the sidelines of the CMS COP12 in Manila, Environment for the Americas (EFTA), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the Agreement on the Convention of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), announced an innovative partnership to boost awareness of the plight of migratory birds around the world. The new partnership formally unites two of the world’s largest bird education campaigns, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) and World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) in a bid to strengthen recognition and appreciation of migratory birds and highlight the urgent need for their conservation.

From 2018 onwards, the new joint campaign will adopt the single name of “World Migratory Bird Day” and major celebration events will be organized twice a year, on the Second Saturday in May and October.

The new collaboration between the CMS, AEWA and EFTA establishes a single, more unified, global campaign organized around the planet’s major migratory bird corridors. These currently include the African-Eurasian, the East Asian-Australasian, and the Americas flyways.

IMBD was created in 1993 to raise awareness of migratory birds and their conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere. Now in its 24th year, IMBD has grown into a framework underpinning 700 events across the Americas, from Canada to Argentina and more than 15 countries in the Caribbean.

WMBD was initiated by AEWA and CMS in 2006 originally as a way to counter the negative public opinion towards migratory birds due to the spread of the H5N1 Avian Influenza virus. Following the launch in 2006, the campaign was celebrated globally around a central theme each year. A total of over 2,000 events have taken place in 140 countries since the campaign started.

Further updates about the new campaign, including the announcement on the chosen theme for 2018 will be published on both the WMBD and IMBD websites early in the new year. Steps are underway to create a single website for the future campaign.

SOURCE: www.worldmigratorybirdday.org

 

Nature Kenya alerts Parliament to Energy clause that threatens rivers, parks, forests and all Government land

Nature Kenya appeared before the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Energy to present recommendations on the Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production Bill, 2017 and the Energy Bill 2018.

Section 107 (1) of the Petroleum Bill 2017 states: “For the purpose of the production and transportation of upstream petroleum, a contractor may erect, fix, install or lay any oil or gas pipelines, other infrastructure or apparatus in, through, upon, under, over or across any public street, road, railway, tramway, river, canal, harbour or national government property in the manner and on the conditions as provided in this Act.”

Section 206 (1) of the Energy Bill 2018 states: “For the purpose of the production , conveyance and supply of energy, a licensee may erect , fix, install or lay any electric supp ly lines , oil or gas pipelines , other infrastructure or apparatus in, through, upon , under , over or across any public Stree t, road , railway , tramway, river, canal, harbour or Government property, including forests , National parks, reserves and heritage sites, in the manner and on the conditions as provided in this Act.”

These two sections appear to give oil companies a free hand to build oil wells or pipelines on any piece of public land, including those that should be protected for the national good.

“The current versions of the Bills allows oil and gas wells and pipelines to be built on any national government property. National government property of course includes national parks, forest reserves, national monuments and heritage sites,” Nature Kenya executive director Dr. Paul Matiku told the committee during the Bills’ public hearing.

Infrastructure builders prefer to build on government property, because it is less expensive to acquire. And yet most government properties are our most valuable assets. These include national parks, the nucleus of our tourism industry, an important provider of jobs and income; national forests that protect our climate, water and genetic resources; and national monuments that honour our cultural history.

Nature Kenya appealed to Parliament to amend the Bills to safeguard national parks, forest reserves, national monuments and cultural sites.

“Allowing unfettered access by petroleum companies to these critical sites is a dangerous move,” Dr. Matiku said.

Golfers play to raise funds for Mt. Kenya forest restoration

The 2018 edition of “Lungs for Kenya” charity golf tournament brought together 124 golfers to raise money for a good cause: restoration of Mt. Kenya forest, Kenya’s largest water tower. The event, which took place on 23 March 2018 at the Karen Country Club, raised 2.5 million shillings to plant trees in Mt. Kenya.

Unlike previous editions, this year’s tournament was a full day event. The tournament comprised of two tee-off times: in the morning and at noon.

Vivo Energy Kenya was the tournament’s main sponsors for the sixth year running. Speaking during the presentation of trophies Vivo Energy Kenya managing director Joe Muganda announced that his company would sponsor the event in 2019.

“We will sponsor the event next year and possibly see if we can do a little bit more,” said Mr. Muganda.

Other sponsors included Ned Bank, NIC Capital, Lake Turkana Wind Power, Commercial Bank of Africa, Knight Frank, Syngenta, Williamson Tea, REA Vipingo, Prime Bank, Delta Airlines, DT Dobie, Platinum Credit, SGA Security, Water Sector Trust Fund and GlaxoSmithKline. Air Kenya, Angama Mara, Safarilink, Loisaba Conservancy, Hemingways Watamu, Silverstone Air, Andrew Kamiti and Peter Blackwell donated auction items. Karen Country Club, Matbronze Wildlife Art, Serena Hotels, Island Camp Lake Baringo, Salma Watt, Daphne Butler and Alex Duncanson donated raffle prizes. Farmer’s Choice supported in providing lunch for the golfers while Coca Cola provided drinking water.

Nature Kenya Executive Director Dr. Paul Matiku thanked sponsors for supporting the tournament urging them to help Nature Kenya reach out to more corporates. Dr. Matiku also thanked golfers for turning out in numbers for the tournament.

Jane Wambui emerged overall winner while Eunice Koome and Peter Kiguru were the lady winner and man winners respectively. The team title went to the Nedbank team comprising of Jaap van Luijk, Raymond Nyamweya, Vincent Rague and Mbuvi Ngunze.

This was the sixth consecutive year the charity golf tournament was running under the “Lungs for Kenya” banner. Nature Kenya’s “Lungs for Kenya” initiative seeks to engage local communities to plant trees to restore Kenya’s degraded forests. Among the sites that have benefited from the initiative are the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Taita Hills forests, Dakatcha Woodland and Mt. Kenya forest.

Nature Kenya would like to thank all sponsors who generously contributed towards making the event a success. We would also like to thank the Tournament Director Mr. Alexander Duncanson and the organizing committee, all of our members, special guests and partners who found time to participate in this year’s tournament.

Nature Net April 2018 FINAL WEB -3

NEW GUEST HOUSE IN DAKATCHA WOODLAND

Dakatcha Woodland Important Bird Area north of Malindi is at its best at this season. Thanks to March rains, the trees are brilliantly green with new leaves, many of them flowering. Most of the shrubs are in bloom, some are in fruit. Migratory birds are passing through, and Clarke’s Weavers – birds found only in Kilifi County – are checking out the seasonal wetlands as potential breeding sites.

Now there is a new guest house to stay in, overlooking a great nyari or depression and a sweeping view of Dakatcha woodland forest. This is the Bore Community Forest Centre.

Bore Community Forest Centre is about ten kilometres past Marafa off the Malindi-Baricho Road. It is owned by the community, and has just been officially opened. It has a large traditional central banda where you can view the sunrise or sit in the shade in the heat of the day.

Accommodation offered are basic rooms with one or two single beds in another large new banda. The showers and toilets are currently in the next building nearby. Bring your own food and the staff will cook it. Solar panels provide electrcity and you can charge your phone and use the Bore wifi.

The special introductory offer is Ksh.1,000 per person per night, bed and breakfast.

For more information or to book accommodation, contact Alex Katana of Green Umbrella,

E-mail: alex.katana2013@gmail.com

Mobile: 0728-526449

What’s app: 0711-424635

To book an experienced local bird guide, contact Julio Mwambire of Hell’s Kitchen, Marafa

E-mail: juliohellskitchen2@gmail.com

Mobile: 0725-082464