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Stakeholders Meeting on Opuntia stricta Management at Twala Cultural Manyatta, Ilpolei

Opuntia Stricta – prickly pear – remains an invasive species threat in Laikipia. Laikipia County Government has been in the forefront of discussions on how to address this invasive species. On February 22, 2019, the County Department of Water, Environment and Natural Resources, led the third follow-up stakeholder workshop to agree a way forward on the harmonization of the efforts different stakeholders are making towards management of Opuntia stricta.

The meeting was attended by different Laikipia and national stakeholders including community members from the group ranches most severely impacted by the plant, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, ICRAF, Mpala Research Centre, World Vision, Laikipia Perma-Culture Center, Laikipia County Government, the Northern Rangelands Trust, Naibunga Conservancy, ILMAMUSI CFA, and GSD Innovation. Also in attendance at the meeting was the MCA for Mukogodo East Ward, Hon. Daniel Nyausi, who is also the Deputy Speaker of the County Assembly of Laikipia. He assured full County support to the invasive species management efforts. He also requested for a briefing paper to be presented to the County Assembly for lobbying of a County Policy on invasive species, and for the allocation of more budget for interventions in the 2019/2020 financial year.

Opuntia LWF

Meeting proceedings at Twala Cultural Manyatta

The major resolutions of the meeting included the combination of mechanical control, biological control, enterprise and policy formulation in the management of the invasive species. Laikipia County Government will continue to coordinate all the activities from the different stakeholders in the management of the invasive species. Stakeholders pledged to maintain frequent engagements and coordination in the management of the invasive species.

 

UPDATE!!

LWF is the recipient of a new grant through USAID and the Regional Center for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD). The grant will be administered by LWF and support the County’s efforts to monitor the Opuntia eradication efforts with the engagement of citizen science. The grant will commence in April 2019. Stand by for regular updates!

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The Opuntia Cactus Meets Its Match

Opuntia Workshop

John Kingori the director of environment Laikipia County addresses the workshop participants on the importance of collaborative efforts towards eradication of Opuntia

Opuntia species have been present in Laikipia for over 50 years. These species were initially introduced for ornamental and live fencing purposes. However, over the past 15 years, some of these species have spread and become aggressively invasive, covering hundreds of acres of land.

This spread has included invasion of conservation areas, rangelands and cultivation areas where it is responsible for a range of negative impacts that have not been systematically quantified.

A greater percentage of Opuntia stricta species presence within Laikipia County is recorded in Laikipia North particularly areas around Il Polei, Makurian, Morupusi Group Ranches, and Dol-Dol town.

To control the plant species, the Laikipia County government mobilized stakeholders to begin addressing this menace.

At a meeting on May 22, 2018 at Twala Cultural Manyatta, representatives from 10 group ranches in Naibunga, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Groots Kenya, Borana Conservancy, ICRAF, Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia Perma-Culture, Regional Centre for Mapping and Remote Sensing, Laikipia County Government, Northern Rangerlands Trust and Ol Jogi Conservancy met to discuss effective ways of controlling the spread of the invasive species.

The County Government brought these key stakeholders together following their previous involvement in control and eradication of Opuntia. These stakeholders were urged to develop a roadmap for tackling the menace.

Suggestions were tabled on how the species can be controlled:

  • Form an umbrella body that will focus on controlling invasive species
  • Map the species in the landscape
  • Sensitize schools in the affected areas
  • Have a biogas equipment within the group ranches that could use the plant as fuel.
  • Ask households to collect the plant and sell them for biogas production.

Following previous experiences by different stakeholders, the forum agreed that the nine stakeholders organizations present and chairperson of group ranches in Naibunga will form the steering committee to oversee the next steps and future engagement of the forum, including fundraising. The steering committee will consist of a “mechanical sub-committee” that will oversee the manual removal of Opuntia and “biological sub-committee” that will oversee biological control of the species.

The Steering Committee meeting is expected to hold its first meeting in June.

The meeting was supported financially by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Groots Kenya, Mpala Research Centre and the Northern Rangerlands Trust.