October Big Day Summary

Birdwatchers in Kenya joined the rest of the world in participating in eBird’s October Big Day on October 14. On this day, birders around the world go out to enjoy birds and submit their observations through the eBird mobile app. The day is also celebrated as the World Migratory Bird Day.

Nine Site Support Groups (SSGs) affiliated to Nature Kenya took part in the event in Lake Elmenteita, Ruma NP, Dakatcha Woodland, Tana River Delta, Sabaki Estuary, Lake Bogoria, Mumoni Hill, Lake Ol’Bolossat, Mount Kenya and Yala Swamp Key Biodiversity Areas.

Kenya was ranked 9th in the world with 706 species and 227 checklists completed. Top Kenyan eBirders were Bruce Hillier and Bertina K, with 169 species in Nairobi National Park. The country’s top hotspot was Lewa Wildlife Conservancy with 201 species.

Striding forward to provide modern information services

By Vivienne Nandokha

The role of the information keeper has been evolving since the stone tablets and scrolls days, to when book printing started and to the modern digital era. To keep up with emerging trends, the Joint East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS) – National Museums of Kenya (NMK) Library embarked on a digitization process to enhance public access to information and service delivery. Nature Kenya has been very supportive of this cause. In 2022 Nature Kenya donated eight computers to the library. Last month they gave the library a large-screen digital TV, LCD projector, multifunctional photocopier/scanner/printer and laminating machine. With these resources, the Joint Library keeps moving forward to provide a modern information service.

In many forums, the Joint Library has been proposed as a training centre for digital skills improvement for NMK staff. This will significantly enable NMK to play its part in the government’s digitization agenda to improve the efficient delivery of government services to all citizens.

The Joint NMK and Nature Kenya (NK) Library has also made some commendable strides from the localized digital provision of information through the library software catalogue package CDS-ISIS to the online provision of information through the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) software, KOHA at https://library.museums.or.ke.

This is one of the services that enabled NMK to move from a rating of 46 per cent to 87.5 per cent in a baseline survey conducted to assess NMK’s digitalization preparedness.

Another crucial development in relation to the equipment that Nature Kenya has purchased for the Joint Library is the development of an institutional information repository (IR). This is a significant step for NMK as it is one of the matrices used to rank research/academic institutions. The Joint Library has also restored the book snap digitization equipment (also purchased several years ago by Nature Kenya). With the dedicated time and efforts of two volunteers, the library is customizing the DSpace software used in the book snap digitization equipment to suit not only NMK’s needs but also those of Nature Kenya.

The establishment of a digital repository at the Joint Library seeks to attract more partnerships, collate the work of NMK and Nature Kenya in one place, contribute to building intellectual leadership and credibility and preserve documented research, among other benefits. This is expected to increase the global visibility of both NMK and Nature Kenya.

Enhancing vulture conservation in the Mara and beyond

By Brian Otiego and David Odhiambo

Often misunderstood and unappreciated, vultures play a crucial role in scavenging and disposing of carcasses and consequently preventing zoonotic disease outbreaks. Despite their importance, many vulture species have recorded population declines. Kenya hosts eight vulture species: White-backed, White-headed, Rüppell’s, Lappet-faced, Hooded, Egyptian, Bearded (Lammergeier) and Palm-nut vultures. Four species (White-backed, White-headed, Rüppell’s and Hooded vultures) face extinction.


On September 2, the world marked the International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD), a day dedicated to creating vulture conservation awareness. In Kenya, Nature Kenya, in conjunction with Maasai Mara Wildlife Ambassadors – the site support group (SSG) for Maasai Mara Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) – held a public event at Ereyiet-Oltome village to mark IVAD. The event aimed to sensitize communities on the importance of vultures in the Mara ecosystem and highlight the dangers posed by wildlife poisoning. About 130 participants attended the event, including community members, representatives from the Mara Predators Conservation Programme, Olkinyei Conservancy, the local administration and two local radio stations – Mayian and Sidai FM.


Human-wildlife conflict is of great concern in the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Wildlife poisoning, triggered by human-wildlife conflict, is the leading cause of vulture deaths in Kenya. When livestock is preyed on by predators such as lions or hyenas, herders often resort to lacing carcasses with poison in retaliation, aiming to kill the rogue predators. Vultures often fall victim to these wildlife poisoning incidents since they feed on carcasses in large numbers.


Through support and capacity building, Nature Kenya has been empowering local communities in the Maasai Maraecosystem to advocate against wildlife poisoning for the protection of vultures. Maasai Mara Wildlife Ambassadors have been at the forefront of this. The SSG is restructuring to enhance its ability to deliver local conservation actions and extend its reach across the vast Mara landscape. The community group, through its vulture volunteers, monitors, responds to and reports wildlife poisoning incidents. It also carries out public awareness and environmental education. To broaden its vulture conservation reach, the SSG is also engaging the local administration and two local radio stations.


Vulture Liaison Officers (VLOs) from Nature Kenya and the vulture volunteers have so far managed to reach out to 94,732 people through community gatherings, village meetings, chief’s barazas, and market outreaches.


To further enhance vulture conservation efforts, Nature Kenya, The Peregrine Fund, Kenya Wildlife Service, Wildlife Research Training Institute, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Birds of Prey Trust and the Raptor Rehabilitation Centre are developing a National Vulture Multi-species Action Plan. The action plan seeks to mainstream vulture conservation into existing wildlife-related legislation, including the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, to improve the legal protection of vultures in Kenya, among other objectives.

IBA in Focus: Cherangani Hills

By Joshua Sese

The Cherangani Hills Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) on the western ridge of the Rift Valley, traverses across Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, and West Pokot counties.  Cherengani Hills KBA is characterized by an undulating terrain with steep hills and a series of expansive indigenous forests, savanna and grassland habitats. The site is part of the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot, and one of Kenya’s five main ‘water towers’. It hosts the headwaters for Kerio and Turkwel rivers draining into Lake Turkana, and river Nzoia draining into Lake Victoria.

Cherangani Hills ecosystem is home to globally threatened and endemic flora such as Dendrosenecio cheranganiensis – EN and Parasol tree Polyscias kikuyuensis – NT, and regionally threatened fauna such as De Brazza’s Monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus), Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus – NT), and perhaps the elusive Lammergeier or Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus – NT), among others.  Most of the highland forests are gazetted as Forest Reserves.

Despite the undoubted significance of the KBA, impacts of climate change and increased anthropogenic pressures in the region continuously threaten its persistence. The human activities affecting the KBA include illegal logging, charcoal production, and encroachment and land clearing for agriculture and settlement. Unsustainable land use practices such as overgrazing, land fragmentation and clearing, have led to soil erosion and degradation. Unchecked encroachment in the KBA has led to frequent human-wildlife conflict incidents. Forest fires are frequent, especially during the dry season, stemming from slash-and-burn land preparation methods, use of fire during honey harvesting, and burning of grazing land to allow for pasture regeneration. Inadequate awareness of the KBA’s ecological significance and poor enforcement of safeguarding measures also impede conservation efforts.

Chebororwa Sekemiat Site Support Group (SSG) is the local community organization championing the conservation of the Cherangani Hills KBA. The SSG actively engages in tree planting and growing, biodiversity monitoring, and conservation awareness creation. It undertakes environmental education through school outreach programmes, community gatherings, and marking national and global awareness days such as World Environment Day. Chebororwa Sekemiat SSG also promotes sustainable community livelihood activities such as beekeeping and tree seedling production.

Africa Climate Summit summary

Nairobi hosted the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS23) on September 4-6, 2023. Organized by the African Union and hosted by the Government of Kenya, the Summit brought together 17 African Heads of State and Government and other leaders from across the continent and globe, including the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres and the President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen.

Under the theme “Driving green growth and climate finance solutions for Africa and the World”, the Summit focused on five key areas: climate finance, loss and damage, energy transition and green jobs, sustainable agriculture and nature-based solutions. 

The outcome document of the Summit was the Nairobi Declaration on Climate Change and Call to Action. It will form the basis for Africa’s position during the Conference of the Parties (COP28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai in November. In the Declaration, African countries committed to and called for:

  • Accelerating all efforts to reduce carbon emissions to align with goals set forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement (such as limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less);
  • Upholding commitments to a fair and accelerated process of phasing down coal, and abolishment of all fossil fuel subsidies;
  • Developed countries to fulfil their commitment to provide $100 billion per year (pledged 14 years ago) in climate financing by 2023;
  • Swift operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change – by COP28;
  • Restructuring of the climate financing architecture to be responsive to Africa’s needs. For example, restructuring of existing debt and fair and flexible terms for climate financing;
  • Establishment of a carbon taxation regime, including a carbon tax on fossil fuel trade, maritime transport and aviation, that may also be augmented by a global financial transaction tax;
  • Global leaders to join Africa in seizing this unprecedented opportunity to accelerate global decarbonization, while pursuing equality and shared prosperity.

Notably, the Declaration recognises the role of nature and biodiversity in resolving the climate crisis. There are six references to “biodiversity” and four to “nature.” In clause 24, African leaders commit themselves to “Strengthening actions to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, deforestation, desertification, as well as to restore degraded lands to achieve land degradation neutrality.”


Climate Finance commitments

During the Summit, $4.5 billion was committed to climate adaptation and mitigation. Pledges made were from governments, businesses, and development partners. The United States pledged $3 billion annually for adaptation, as part of its President’s Emergency Plan for Adaptation and Resilience (PREPARE) initiative. The United Arab Emirates pledged $1 billion for climate action in Africa. The African Development Bank (AfDB) committed $1 billion for the African Adaptation Initiative and $100 million for the Climate Resilience Adaptation Finance and Technology Transfer Facility.

It was agreed that the Africa Climate Summit will be held every two years.