Golfers and businesses come together to support Mount Kenya forest restoration

Golfers and businesses converged at the Karen Country Club on Friday, July 23rd, for the 11th Nature Kenya charity golf tournament. The event, under the Lungs for Kenya banner, raised KSh. 2.2 million for the restoration of Mount Kenya forest. 


A total of 142 golfers participated in the one-day tournament that had seen several postponements due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Africa Data Centers were the lead sponsors of the event. Vivo Energy Kenya and Kenya Breweries were the silver sponsors, Platinum Credit double bronze sponsors and Knight Frank bronze sponsors. Williamson Tea, Prime Bank, Syngenta. NCBA Bank, Nedbank Kenya, DT Dobie Kenya, Kenya Forest Service and Boskovic Air Charters were hole sponsors.


Several business entities and individuals also supported the fundraiser with auction and raffles items. They included Basecamp Explorer Group, Angama Mara, Royal Mara, Skyward Express, Safarilink, Hemmingways Collection, Serena Hotels, Matbronze Wildlife Art, Elewana Collection, San Valencia Restaurants, Travellers Beach Hotel, Davis and Shirtliff, Cookswell, Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, DT Dobie Kenya, Salma and Andy Watt, Alex Duncanson and Andrew Kamiti. We say a big ‘thank you’ to all our sponsors.

Sharpe’s Longclaw survey

A Sharpe’s Longclaw survey recently conducted by a group of volunteers in Kinangop grasslands indicates the Endangered bird’s habitat is still under threat from human activity. Friends of Kinangop Plateau (FoKP), a Nature Kenya site support group (SSG), conducted the study between April and May this year. The study covered four locations in Kinangop, namely Magumu/Nyakio, Njambini, Engineer and Murungaru.

Bird experts from BirdLife International assisted the volunteers in the study, which had identified 24 farms as suitable habitats for the grassland specialist Sharpe’s Longclaw.

Various data was captured and recorded during the survey. It included: the number of Sharpe’s Longclaw individuals observed, their breeding status, GPS coordinates of the areas visited, habitat quality as per the requirements of the target species, among others. Other bird species observed were also noted. A total of 286 Sharpe’s Longclaw individuals were recorded during the survey.

Sharpe’s Longclaw depends on tussock grass that grows in Kinangop. The grass species grows in clumps or tufts and thrives in dry highland habitats. The bird uses tussock grass to feed, nest, and protect itself from predators when threatened.

The Kinangop grasslands are one of the three main areas where Sharpe’s Longclaw, a bird endemic to Kenya, is found. Mau Narok and Timau grasslands are the other two areas. In Kinangop, the bird’s range is mostly restricted to privately owned grasslands.

The study noted that loss of the tussock grass habitat due to land-use conversion for farming and woodlot establishment is a leading contributor to the Sharpe’s Longclaw population decline. Over 12 newly converted private grasslands were recorded in the course of the survey. Overgrazing was also observed as a contributor to tussock grass habitat degradation.

To mitigate the threats, FoKP proposes the strengthening of grassland and species conservation knowledge and the capacity of private landowners and managers in Kinangop. Other recommendations include the annual monitoring of the Sharpe’s Longclaw in Kinangop, Mau Narok and Timau grasslands, and conducting a nationwide survey for the species after every five years.

Volunteers who participated in the survey also took time to create community awareness on habitat conservation. The interaction between FoKP members and bird experts also served to sharpen the SSG’s monitoring skills.

Nature Kenya is working closely with FoKP to promote the conservation of Sharpe’s Longclaw and its habitat in Kinangop. In 2010, Nature Kenya secured the purchase of 20 hectares of land at the Kinangop Grasslands Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) to protect the Endangered bird’s habitat.

Wildlife Poisoning in Kajiado

A series of suspected wildlife poisoning incidents were reported in Kisaju, Kajiado County, in July. The Olerai/Kisaju area is a known breeding and roosting site for White-backed Vultures.

A team from Nature Kenya and partner organizations were alerted of the incidents and promptly responded.


With support from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) scouts, the team traced six dead White-backed Vultures at various locations within the area between 7th and 8th July. One vulture carcass was found on an acacia tree next to a beehive. It is suspected that the vulture had consumed a poison-laced bait somewhere else. 


The location of the poison-laced bait is unknown. The dead vultures had red stains on their heads and necks. A readily available pesticide going by the name of Marshal is suspected to have been used to lace the bait. Samples from the dead vultures were collected by a KWS veterinarian and sent to the government chemist for further analysis. The vulture carcasses were later safely disposed of by burning. 


A tagged White-backed Vulture, whose location had remained stationary for some time, was found dead a few days later. The vulture’s radio transmitter was recovered.


Elsewhere, a partially burnt lion carcass was discovered near Osewan village in the Emotoroki area of Kajiado on July 16. The dead lion is suspected to have died after consuming a goat carcass laced with poison. It is not known who baited the goat carcass nor burnt the lion.

Wings beating the odds of gravity

Not all birds fly, but the majority do. Flight is the most defining and distinct locomotory feature in birds, which places birds in a fascinating world of their own. Varying from species to species, each exhibits a different flight style and wing shape.

For instance, hovering is achieved by beating the wings more or less horizontally, balancing the forward thrust by a wind gust as seen in Pied Kingfishers and Augur Buzzards. Seabirds like gulls and albatrosses employ gliding. Pelicans and cranes fly in V-shaped formations, cormorants in a single file, while vultures, storks and large birds of prey use thermals to soar in the sky.

But how do they beat all the odds to do this? Different forces act on a bird’s body enable it to fly up and remain airborne. These forces include gravity, lift, drag and thrust.

Gravity keeps us on the ground. It is the force that pushes down on the bird and is the first force that a bird in flight interacts with during take-off. To overcome it, birds create lift and thrust by flapping their wings, making air flow over and under them.

Birds have evolved over the years to adapt to flight. For starters, they have thin, hollow bones. They have no teeth, so no heavy jaws. Birds have light but strong feathers. They lay eggs rather than give birth to live young. Birds have rapid and efficient digestion. Their overlapping feathers give them a perfect streamlined body shape needed for flight.

These beautiful creatures have managed to conquer the gap of distances and explore the aerial spaces with ease, having confidence in their wings and feathers. Amazing!