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Changing the Narrative on Wildlife Conservation: Kenyan Conservancies Speak Out!

Communications experts and practitioners working in Kenyan Conservancies across the country unanimously agreed to work in a coordinated manner to change the negative narrative that has for too long time engulfed the conservation space.

This collaborative action was agreed at the first Conservation Communication Forum organized by Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association on 7th March 2019, at the African Wildlife Foundation. The forum brought together communication practitioners from over 20 conservancies in the country with an aim of brain-storming ways to correct the apparent “communication disconnect in Kenyan wildlife conservation” as well as create collective action and harmony to ensure that our national conservation effort is projected to the world with an improved perspective and through various media channels.

Communication experts listen in to the KWS Ag. Director General Prof. Charles Musyoki while delivering his speech at the Conservation Communications Forum in Nairobi

The negative publicity around conservation was majorly attributed to the competitive nature of conservancies for donor funding.  As a result, success stories such as: women shattering the conservation “glass ceiling”; the downturn in poaching; the recovery of vulnerable species; and the fact that Kenyans are at the helm of conservation; these themes barely see the light of day. In addition, seldom do the individual efforts of conservancies contribute to the national and international perspectives and messaging so important to the emerging national narrative on conservancies. Read more

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Good Neighbours

Communities have been meeting to improve relations and develop local partnerships that have mutual benefits for involved parties

The communities to the North and East of Ole Naishu have been working with a membership organization (Oramat Lenaboisho) in the Laikipia east landscape to bring about better communication and more regular collaboration in the neighbourhood.

Working with the support of the FORUM and Borana Conservancy, Oramat has been leading the formation of community groups to discuss issues of grazing, security, employment and reconciliation of past grievances.

Two community groups (committees) have been appointed (one from Makurian and one from Chumvi) to serve as the interface between Ole Naishu and its neighbours.

These efforts are designed to bring about improved relations and to develop local partnerships that have mutual benefits for the Ranch and its neighbours.

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Big step in Wildlife Monitoring for IlMAMUSI Rangers

ILMAMUSI CFA

Disney Project: The 12 rangers represent the four group ranches around Mukogodo Forest-Ilngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo and Sieku

Twelve ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association (CFA) rangers underwent a 3-day training on the use of Geographical Positioning System (GPS) for wildlife monitoring, data collection, and reporting.

The training was held at the CFA headquarters – Loragai office in Laikipia North Sub County, was organized by LWF and assisted by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT). The rangers were trained on the use of Wildlife-Conservancy Management Monitoring System (Wildlife-CoMMS) – a ranger-based monitoring tool for wildlife and illegal activities.

The 12 rangers represent the four group ranches around Mukogodo Forest (Ilngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo and Sieku). They are divided into four patrol groups based on their area of scouting:

  • Ilngwesi block- with 4 Locations- Lokusero A/B, Upper Sanga, Nadungoro, Olmaroroi
  • Makurian block – with 3 Locations – Arjijo, Sepeyo, Lariakorok
  • Mukogodo block- with 6 Locations – Seek, Bokish, Toirai, Sior, Olorepirepi, Kuri-kuri.
  • Sieku/Lekurruki block- with 3 Locations – Ildorot, Naimarlal, Nadungoro.

The scouts will monitor and report on wildlife observations, wildlife carcasses, human-wildlife conflict cases, and illegal activities within the Mukogodo landscape.

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ILMAMUSI Chairman presents GPS gadgets to the Rangers after the training

“The introduction of GPS and monitoring system (Wildlife-CoMMS) is a big step in efforts to conserve the Mukogodo forest,” says ILMAMUSI CFA Coordinator, Samali Letai. He adds that these tools contribute to better understanding of wildlife movements, and can help to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, as we will be able to report more accurately.”

The training exercise is part of the Disney Conservation Fund project activities funded through the Wildlife Conservation Society, through the Laikipia Wildlife Forum to mitigate Human-Elephant Conflicts with the support of  the ILMAMUSI CFA.

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Farming in Pastoralist Communities: “The fence is a game-changer”

Human Wildlife Conflict, Disney project

Top: Grace Korosian, a resident of Arjiju Village in North laikipia says they have adopted farming in their community.  Below: A tractor ploughs a section of the 44-hectare land protected by the new solar-powered fence implemented by Laikipia Wildlife Forum

 

“My name is Grace Korosian, I was born and raised here in Arjiju Village, Makurian Group Ranch.

A few years ago, we were just pastoralists keeping only livestock, like most Maasai Communities.  But we were introduced to crop farming by agricultural extension officers who visited our village. In our first harvest, we felt the joy of harvesting our own produce without buying as we would always do. We had been enlightened!

Back then, women like myself grew “sukuma wiki” on sacks behind our Manyattas and we would water them. This was the alternative source of food. But then, our farming practices attracted unwarranted visitors to our doorsteps. We had “someone else” harvesting our sukuma wiki – the Elephants!

Thinking about it now, it was expected. I mean, we live at the periphery of Mukogodo forest, with a big population of elephants.

ILMAMUSI CFA

The solar-powered fence in Arjiju is part of Disney Project Implemented through The Laikipia Wildlife Forum

Having experienced this conflict, the community decided to dedicate one area of our village just for crop farming.  For a few seasons, we’ve been able to harvest from it, but it has also been a field day for the elephants. It’s a hassle  for us, chasing them away with fire, and sometimes having to harvest beans early so that we can salvage something for our families.

Early this year, when this idea of a solar-powered electric fence was discussed by our committee in Makurian, we were very excited. This was a new idea here and we knew what it would change things in the village.

And now seeing the fence complete around both the communal farm and the clinic, it is a source of hope for us. I mean, our villagers have been smiling since the poles were first delivered here, and seeing it shaping up into a fence is unbelievable.

I’m sure you have seen a tractor plough the land here today. The next time you visit, we will have grown some maize, some beans, potatoes and grass for our cattle.

We now know that farming is important. Those families that have been assigned a plot, can now comfortably grow something. Those without will at least have a place closer to home to buy food from.

We are hopeful that we are likely to harvest something sizeable from this farm.”

#ENDS

The newly constructed solar-powered fence in Arjiju Village covers 45 hectares and is part of the Disney Project implemented through The Laikipia Wildlife Forum at the larger Mukogodo landscape.

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New Leadership for the MKEWP Council: Moses Muthoki and George Kobia are elected!

Moses Muthoki

(L) Mr Moses Muthoki is the Head of Community Department at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy while Mr George Kobia is Meru County Chief Officer for Water

Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership held its third Council meeting of 2018. The Council meeting brings together partners from over 14 organizations. In July, one of the agenda items was election of a new Chairperson and Deputy.

Council Election

For the first time since the establishment of Partnership, the council resolved to have two individuals occupying the position of chair.

The post of deputy chairperson was annulled and council approved to have representation from both private and government as co-chairs. This decision is in spirit of partnership from which MKEWP’s establishment was based.

Mr Moses Muthoki, the Head of Community Development at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy), and Mr George Kobia, Chief Officer for Water for Meru County) were both proposed and unanimously voted as the new chairpersons of MKEWP Council.

The two will now lead the Council and the Partnership in implementing and championing Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) in the Upper Ewaso Basin for the next one year.

The Council instructed the secretariat to revise the Partnership’s Charter, which was adopted in 2016. The Charter defines terms of reference, roles and responsibilities that guide the operations of the Council.

MKEWP Council

MKEWP Council Members during their meeting on 6th July 2018. The Council elected two individual to co-chair the Partnership moving forward

Communication Strategy Deliberation

The MKEWP Secretariat also presented the draft Communication Strategy that proposes to work with Council members and WRUA Clusters as the key communication channels in the next five years.

The MKEWP Communication Strategy will provide a framework for MKEWP’s partners to engage effectively, build greater trust between members, create awareness and will build their capacity to communicate best practises in water governance.

 

For more information on MKEWP, the Council or the Communications Strategy, please contact:

Stanley Kirimi -MKEWP Coordinator

Stanley.kirimi@laikipia.org

+254 746 607 181

 

 

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County Government engages Laikipia Tourism Association over formation of a tourism board

Catherine Waruguru

Laikipia Women Representative Catherine Waruguru addresses the forum that brought together County Government of Laikipia and the private sector in tourism

The County Government of Laikipia hosted an engagement and consultative meeting with the private sector in Nanyuki to mark the first steps to developing a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for tourism.

On 6th July, the Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA) joined the County Government in consultations on how best to promote sustainable tourism and to discuss the formation of a Laikipia Tourism Board. The eventual Board will be interfaces between the Public and the Private Sectors in Laikipia. Its formation however, is dependent on the passage of the Laikipia County Tourism Bill, which is yet to be tabled in the County Assembly.

The LTA, through its Executive Committee urged the County Executive to expedite the passage of the bill which will form the basis of strategies for investment, growth and sustainability in the tourism sector.

In a rejoinder, Finance County Executive Committee Member (CECM) Mr. Murungi, who represented Laikipia Governor, Ndiritu Muriithi, gave an assurance of accelerated passage of the Bill by the County Assembly.

Once this Bill is passed, the tourism board will be involved in county policies and programs related to sustainable tourism sector development. Its success will see Laikipia provide leadership as the first of the 47 counties to develop and test the effectiveness of a PPP in county tourism development.

The County promised a subsidized levy to service providers who will submit waiver request through the Association a move that Laikipia Women Representative Catherine Waruguru, said would strengthen membership of the association.

This comes as great news for Laikipia tourism service providers who are interested in joining the Association as members. The Association is currently on a membership drive to bring together more than 100 Laikipia tourism service providers.

The Association is keen to make Laikipia a model county for sustainable tourism – their focus is on sustainable tourism growth, employment, environmental responsibility, recycling and sustainable energy technology and equitable benefit sharing.

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Solar-Powered Fence Takes Shape in Arjiju Village

Disney Project

Margarate Wambua LWF Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Wilfred Mejooli, Makuarian Rangelands Coordinator and Senteu Ole Kimiri ILMAMUSI CFA Manager take a walk along the pole line erected around the settlement area in Arjiju Village.

Community members residing in Arjiju Village, Mukogodo, have lived in harmony with elephants for decades. But changes in land use over the years, food security and population growth, Maasai communities have started practising small-scale agriculture.

Yet, Arjiju Village has not enjoyed a full maize crop because of elephants raids on their farms. With the village located at the periphery of Mukogodo forest, humans, livestock and wildlife share common resources such as water and pasture. Owing to competition for these resources, persistent Human-Elephant Conflicts (HEC) have been witnessed

A solar-powered fence on the Mukogodo landscape seeks to reduce the occurrence and frequency of Human-Elephant Conflict.

Construction of the fence is part of Disney Conservation Project is part of activities recommended by ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association during the initial consultative meetings.

ILMAMUSI

The community in Mukogodo previously used a barbed-wired fence to protect their crops

This fence is a trial effort and replaces a barbed-wire fence in an effort to protect farms produce and support livelihoods.

The poles are up and the electric wires will be installed in the next few weeks, as the project makes progress in Mukogodo. Almost 45 acres and the Village dispensary are enclosed by the Fence.

Community members in Arjiju met Laikipia County Governor, Mr. Ndiritu Murithi, where they held discussions on Human Wildlife Conflicts and how the solar-powered fencing can be used to benefit the community.

To learn more about the Arjiju Solar Fence or to learn more about the Disney supported Mukogodo Project, please contact:

Margaret Wambua

margaret.wambua@laikipia.org

+254 726 500 260

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Illegal Water Abstraction Impacts Mount Kenya

 

Mt Kenya Water Abstraction

Mount Kenya’s moorlands is now littered with pipes used for illegal water intakes

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) joined the Mount Kenya Trust to survey water abstraction in the northern moorlands of Mt. Kenya.

The survey was conducted to look at compliance and how water abstraction is affecting the mountain.

The trip to the mountain revealed the discouraging state of affairs on water resource management in the most critical water tower in Kenya. The moorland, which falls under the supervision of Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service on Mt Kenya has witnessed increased human activity evident from numerous illegal water intakes constructed along the streams.

12 water intakes in a radius area of about 10 km were found during the survey. They sit between 3200 to 4000 metres above sea level. The highest water intake recorded during the survey was at 3987 metres above sea level – an indication that water users are going higher and higher up the mountain to abstract water.

Other key findings included construction of several water intakes too close to each other in the same stream. In one of the rivers, three intakes had been constructed within a two hundred metre stretch.  Moreover, the designs of these intakes do not allow the mandatory environmental flows downstream.

Springs and tarn are the major sources of water at the moorland. The numerous intakes are a threat to the existence of the tarns. They impact the ecosystem, the integrity of the watershed, and impact tourism and landscapes.

Furthermore, the moorlands are littered with plastic from water abstraction activities and routine maintenance.

Water abstraction , Water intakes, Mt kenya,

The intakes are also constructed too close to each other in the same stream

The intakes are connected to pipelines that snake their way down the terrain to serve the needs of users downstream in areas of Timau Sub-Catchment, and impact residents of Meru, Laikipia and Isiolo counties.

Water abstraction in the moorland puts pressure on the catchment and is not sustainable in the long run, says the MKEWP Coordinator, Stanley Kirimi.

Indeed, Mt Kenya is the most significant water tower as a source of two of six water basins in the country

The Coordinator adds, “There is need to contain the situation, rationalize the offtake of water, and to adopt common intakes for effective water resource management.

“Common intakes allow users to share the resource equitably, and allow the recommended 30% of the river to flow downstream as ‘environmental flow’.” This is a requirement of the Water laws.

All the illegal intakes fall within Meru County boundaries and are subject to the authority of the Regional Water Resource Authority in Nanyuki.

We visited the moorland and documented the water intakes in video below:

 

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Joint effort – A big win for Rugariga Springs!

MKEWP Water Resource Specialist James Mwangi joins the community in Teleswani for tree planting exercise to mark World Environment Day.

 On June 5th, LWF and the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) marked the World Environment Day in a tree planting exercise at Rugariga Springs.

The spring that gushes from the slopes of Mt Kenya, in Teleswani sub-catchment, was picked by the local community to undergo rehabilitation.  In recent years, the splendour of Rugariga has been threatened by deforestation.

MKEWP, together with Mount Kenya Trust, joined efforts to protect the sub-catchment. Through the Water Resources User Groups (WRUAs) and Community Forest Associations (CFAs), the Partnership mobilized over 400 community members and 100 school children who braved the morning downpour to participate in the exercise.

The exercise brought together members from Sirimon CFA, Teleswani community water projects, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Teleswani, Ngusishi and Timau WRUAs and pupils from Kirimira and Kiambogo primary schools.

In the end, 3500 trees donated by Mount Kenya Trust (MKT) were planted to protect the spring that supplies River Teleswani. 2500 of the trees planted were indigenous while 1000 were giant bamboo seedlings, which are planted to create a favourable habitat for spring and river protection.

Senior forester, Mr Simiyu, from Kenya Forest Service, noted that the tree planting was in line with government’s ambitious plan aimed at increasing the country’s forest cover from the current 7% to 10% by the year 2022.

World Environment Day

A Pupil from Kirimara Primary school plants a tree as community member looks on

Mr Simiyu, however, challenged the CFAs to nurture the trees. “Planting the trees here today is a mere 2% of our efforts, but taking care of them is a crucial 98%.” Addressing the incessant encroachment of the catchment, the authority requested the community to be vigilant in safeguarding the resource

As a measure to protect the young trees, Ontulili CFA Chairman, Mr Magiri, announced that grazing of cattle will longer be allowed in the catchment.

Protection of catchments in the area is crucial to the Partnership’s agenda, a reality that Water Resources Specialist, James Mwangi, says, “can be achieved through collective action and responsibility.”

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LWF Partners Profiled at the Mt. Kenya ASK Show!

LAikipia wildlife Forum

LWF was joined by Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) and Kenya Water Health Organization (KWAHO) as key Watershed Partners. Other partners included the Wetlands International Watershed Program, Laikipia Tourism Association (LTA), Laiconar, Irrico International, Ngusishi WRUA, Nyahururu WRUA and Laikipia Youth group supported by KWAHO.

As Watershed Program implementers, MKEWP showcased its impact on water resource management (WRM) with communities, through Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs). The Partnership was buttressed by Ngusishi WRUA – who displayed how common intakes are used in rivers for sustainable distribution of water to 16 community water projects along the River.

In line with the theme of the show “Promoting Innovation and Technology in Agriculture,” the Partnership demonstrated Smart Water Agricultural through Irrico International – a company that displayed technology in agriculture.

Smart Water for Agriculture is supported by SNV through LWF and MKEWP under the Irrigated Agriculture Platform (IAP) and promotes sustainable use of water in Agriculture in Laikipia County.

Another partner, Laiconar-a policy and advocacy platform aimed at engaging public participation at the policy level showcased its community outreach programs and Green Africa. It also promoted its newest efforts aimed at the use of vertical and horizontal gardens in small-scale agriculture.

The show was also used as a membership drive for LWF, MKEWP and Laikipia Tourism Association – as the three partners met and spoke to potential members on the benefits of a shared vision using different tools and partnerships to realize a sustainable future for natural resources in the region.

The ASK Show gave different groups and partners a platform to showcase their activities and innovations, and provided a great platform for interaction.

The three-day event saw LWF stand take the second prize overall as “The Best Organization/Association In Community Service”. Our stand was one of the ten visited by the Chief Guest of the Show, Governor Nderitu Murithi, where he learned more about the effectiveness of partnerships in managing the natural resources of Laikipia.