Coca-Cola support boosts Hombe forest restoration

Coca-Cola Beverages Africa-Kenya (CCBA-K) supported Hombe Community Forest Association (CFA) members to plant 15,000 trees in Mt. Kenya forest, facilitated by Nature Kenya. Early this year, Nature Kenya and CCBA-K signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement socio-economic investment programs in environmental conservation in Kenya. The MoU, geared towards CCBA-K’s sustainability agenda, targets forest reforestation programs in Kenya’s catchment areas. 

Planting took place during the April rains season. The Hombe restoration site includes a swamp on the verge of drying up. It is hoped that the newly planted trees will resuscitate this wetland as they mature. 

Hombe CFA has a membership of about 1,900 individuals drawn from the neighbouring community. Most members engage in tree seedling production as their main source of income. The CCBA-K support has helped to improve the livelihoods of Hombe CFA members through the sale of 15,000 tree seedlings. 

“The support from Coca-Cola Beverages Africa-Kenya has helped me pay for rent and other basic family needs like food, particularly during this difficult Covid-I9 period,” says Gladys Wangu, a member of Hombe CFA.

“I am grateful to the management of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa-Kenya and Nature Kenya for their support towards restoration of our forest. I appeal to others to also join us in making Hombe and the larger Mt. Kenya forest regain its original state,” says Wilson Thige, the chairperson of Hombe CFA.

Mt Kenya forest is home to rich flora and fauna. Among the species it hosts is the Critically Endangered Mountain Bongo and Kenya Jewel Damselfly, and the vulnerable Abbott’s Starling. 

Ngulia bird ringing

Every year since 1969, bird ringers from Europe and Kenya meet at Ngulia Safari Lodge in Tsavo West National Park to participate in the ringing of Palaearctic migratory songbirds. These are birds who breed in Europe and Asia and migrate to spend the winter in Africa. Most of these birds fly south at night, passing over Tsavo in November and December. On dark, misty nights, the migrating songbirds become disoriented and land in the bush around the lights of the lodge.

This is a rare occasion in bird migratory phenomena in the world. The birds are gently caught, carried in cloth bags, identified, measured, and fitted with a light metal ring on one leg. Then they are released to continue their journey. A total of 597,694 Palearctic migratory birds of 72 species and 15,570 individuals of Afrotropical birds of 234 species have been ringed in the last 51 years (1969-2020) at the site.

Last year (2020) 10,666 Palaearctic migrants of 32 species and 588 Afrotropical birds of 75 species were captured and ringed. With so many birds, it was a challenge for the local Kenyan team to take the lead, since the ringers from Europe could not participate due to travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Plans for the 2021 ringing are on; it will be a two-week session commencing on 30th November and ending on 10th December 2021. The Kenyan team is expected to carry out the event, since international travel is still difficult. Nature Kenya members are welcome to book a stay at Ngulia Lodge during that time and observe the ringing. You may also volunteer to “scribe” (write the notes) for the ringers. It is a rare opportunity to see many species and big numbers of Palaearctic songbirds in ringers’ hands both day and night.

For more information or to sign up, please contact or Dr. Titus Imboma <>.

A world united by birds!

Global Big Days of birding are a 24-hour opportunity to celebrate birds near and far. On October 9th nearly 33,000 birders around the world took part in the 2021 October Big Day. Participants were drawn from 195 countries and reported 7,269 species, making the day the biggest ever in birding history!

This year’s global team consisted of more than 800 eBirders from Africa, 2,000 from Asia, 2,500 from Europe, and 5,300 from Central and South America. These tremendous efforts showcase the power of birds to bring people together.

Kenya was ranked in position 7th globally with 791 bird species recorded on the day. The top country was Colombia (1,347 birds), followed by Peru (1,223), Ecuador (1,100), Brazil (1,082), Bolivia (817) and India (793). A total of 368 checklists were submitted from Kenya.

Climate-smart Agriculture boosting resilience in Tana Delta

Green greets your eyes as you step into Kimanzi Ndavi’s farm in Shaurimoyo, Kipini, Tana River Delta. Unlike neighbouring farms, the sesame crop in his piece of land appears unaffected by the drought ravaging many parts of the delta. In a few weeks, Ndavi will be harvesting his crop.

“Simsim (sesame) is not affected so much by drought,” he says.

Ndavi is one of the 104 farmers from the Tana Delta who received sesame seeds from Nature Kenya. Five acres of his land are currently under sesame cultivation, and things are looking promising. Sesame, notes Ndavi, yields a better income compared to maize.

“A bag of simsim can fetch up to Ksh. 10,000. If you compare it with maize, simsim is more profitable. That is why I decided to venture into its farming,” he adds.

Ndavi expects to harvest at least three tonnes of the crop out of the five acres.

Nature Kenya is promoting cultivation of oilseed crops such as sesame and sunflower in the Tana Delta under a climate-smart agriculture initiative. Climate-smart agriculture uses farming practices that improve farm productivity and profitability and enable farmers to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. This approach addresses the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change.

Under the climate-smart agriculture initiative, farmers receive improved crop seeds, training in crop husbandry and extension services. Crops identified for this initiative include green grams, cowpeas and maize. Sesame and sunflower have also been picked as high-value crops suitable for the Tana Delta landscape. The selected seed varieties for these crops are drought-resistant and fast maturing.

The climate-smart agriculture initiative is a component of the Community Resilience Building in Livelihood and Disaster Risk Management (REBUILD) project funded by the European Union.

Nzilani Esther, a farmer from Mapunga, Kisiwani area, is another beneficiary of the project.

“Apart from receiving improved crop seeds, we have also been taught how to time the rains and sow correctly,” says Nzilani, who has planted two acres of green grams.

According to Boniface Musyoka, an agronomist working for Nature Kenya in Tana Delta, 1,570 farmers drawn from Kipini, Garsen and Tarasaa areas are actively engaged in climate-smart agriculture.

“A majority of the farmers we have engaged in our in climate-smart agriculture initiative are women. The initiative seeks to build climate change resilience among communities in the Tana Delta,” says Boniface.

Nature Kenya is also working closely with the Tana Delta Farmers’ Cooperative in the climate-smart agriculture initiative. The cooperative manages the Ngao Farmers’ Field School. This facility offers climate-smart agriculture, greenhouse technology and conservation agriculture training to farmers.

Guardians of Lake Bogoria

Lake Bogoria may be on the bucket list for many travellers in search of flamingoes, and now it has an active group of Friends.

Friends of Nature Bogoria is a community-based organisation that started in 1996 and was officially registered in 2003. It has grown to become one of the vibrant Nature Kenya Site Support Groups (SSGs) in the Rift Valley, with research and monitoring activities keeping track of the health of the Bogoria ecosystem.

“In 1996, we realised there were a lot of changes within the Bogoria ecosystem. We realised that Greater Kudus were becoming rare, yet this is their area of concentration within the county. We also realised there was need to monitor waterfowls,” notes Patrick Kurere, the group’s coordinator and manager.

Friends of Nature Bogoria has participated in the annual waterfowl counts since 2002 and maintains a waterfowl database that tracks trends in Lake Bogoria. The group is also actively engaged in monitoring the Greater Kudu, its distribution and threats to its survival.

Their vibrant activities have enabled them to attract funding to expand their research and monitoring activities within the ecosystem, which is a Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance), a World Heritage Site and an Important Bird Area – which now becomes a Key Biodiversity Area.

“Through funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Darwin Initiative, we have been able to conduct a kudu census and develop a kudu program. This program details the population and distribution of greater kudus within the catchment area,” Mr Kurere said.

Lake Bogoria National Reserve warden James Kimaru, who doubles as the coordinator of the group, says that they have expanded their programs to target schools, as well as training community tour guides.

As part of raising awareness on the conservation of the Greater Kudu, group members have been advocating the use of wooden carvings as an alternative to kudu horns used in traditional ceremonies.

“We are now trying to let the community know that they can carve replica horns out of wood instead of using kudu horns for ceremonies,” says Raphael Kimosop.

The SSG oversees three community conservancies covering 10,000 hectares – Kiborgoch, Tuine and Irong – which are critical distribution sites of the Greater Kudus.

The group plans to expand their kudu research programme to incorporate tagging of at least three kudus. This will offer additional information on their breeding habits and sites within community-owned land.

Friends of Nature Bogoria were among the stakeholders that developed the Lake Bogoria Management plan. The SSG is also part of a team engaged in mapping sites for the Baringo County Geopark. The Geopark is the first of its kind in Kenya.

Other activities that the Friends are engaged in include bee-keeping, selling artefacts and souvenirs and offering professional tour guiding services.

“In the group, we make sure that everyone is active at doing something useful to the environment. While some have been doing value-addition to aloe products, others have been engaging in bee-keeping and even planting of hay,” says Kimosop.