Dudus and Plants course, May 2015

A 4 day Training Course for Professional Safari Guides
27 th of May to 30 th at Suyian Soul, Laikipia
Botany Entomology
Anne Powys, and Dr. Dino J. Martins
Botany and Entomology course

Interested in Botanical course focusing on Plants and Dudus (insects)? This three day course introduces classification – families, genus and species. How to start recognizing different families in the field.

Field work consists of making notebook specimens of the identified plants which will include a written description enabling us to become familiar with basic taxonomy and the terminology in plant literature. We usually focus on the most basic and obvious parts of the plant, like leaves, leaf margins, stalks, stems, petals, etc. and try to understand the botanical language a little better.

The course always takes place in the field even the simple test on the last day!

We will provide notebooks, masking tape and pens.

Aims and objectives

  • Το gain a better understanding of how plants are classified.
  • Become familiar with plant families learning the most obvious characters that determine which
    family they belong to.
  • Understanding the genus and why plants are split using examples in the field.
  • Looking at the more specific characteristics which finally determine which species a plant is and why.
  • Bringing plants closer to us by discussing all the useful things about our plants including: medicinal, food plants, spiritual, perfume as well as the symbiotic relationship between plants,
    insects, birds and mammals.

Field workplan

LeavesBoth days will take place in the field. We try to cover as many vegetation types as possible in the time given, so as to make sure the guides pick up as many id’s as they can of the more common trees, shrubs and herbs on Suyian. The first day will be taken up with pressing plants and looking at the main characters that separate them as well as writing up a simple description of each plant. The second day we will continue to collect and press plants, the focus will be on learning more about the different families that plants belong to.

Entomology with Dino Martins

Insects have been called ‘the little things that run the world’. In East Africa insects are involved in almost every single aspect of ecology and animal behaviour. Insects are everywhere and are often encountered by visitors, both young and old.

PlantInsects are indisputably the most successful life form on the planet. We have gone through many  evolutionary changes as humans over the last six millions years, but one thing has remained the same through this period of our evolution – the diversity and importance of the insects, whose history stretches over 400 millions years. For all intents and purposes, we are still living in the Age of Insects.

East Africa is blessed not just with remarkable large animals and birds, but also with a diverse and stunning insect fauna. Many insects are visible and constant parts of the landscape, such as the ants living in the whistling thorn trees and the ubiquitous termites. Without some insects, such as dung beetles and pollinators, life as we know it would come to an end on the planet.

On safari many people encounter insects, and they often have questions about the insects that they see around camps and lodges as well as when they are out in the bush with guides. Guides need to understand the role of and diversity of insects as this provides the basis for interacting with visitors in a higher quality way that enriches the experience for them. Understanding insects and the roles educates both visitors and guides in the intricacy and inter-connectedness of the natural world.

Course Objectives

  • Appreciate the value and importance of insects
  • Understand the need for insects and their role in biodiversity, their importance and effects onother animals, plants and the ecosystem
  • Learn about the classification, biology, ecology and behaviour of insects
  • Learn to identify major orders and families of insects
  • Acquire skills for observing and sharing the wonder of insects with visitors – both adults and children.

insectsThe course will be a field-based course with an emphasis on acquiring the basic skills for identification and observing behaviour of insects. Attention will be given to the life-history strategies of insects and this will be linked to their interactions with other animals. Therefore, a lot of animal behavior information will also be passed on to the guides as part of this course.

Topics covered

  • Insect
  • Communities Insects and Ecosystems
  • Insect Classification and Diversity
  • Insect Ecology and Behavior

In addition, the basics of first aid related to insect bites and stings are also covered by this course.

Guides will come away from this course with a solid understanding of insects and their role in the world and the ability to share the wonders and details of this fascinating group of creatures with the rest of the world.

Training Schedule: 2 days Botany, 2 days Entomology Maximum of 20 participants, divided into 2 groups of 10

Cost: 35,000/= pp full board (for those staying in the lodge)

10,000/= pp full board for safari guides – bring tent and bedroll

Alcohol not provided

2 participants per room

Vehicles provided at Suyian (Travel to Suyian not included)

Deposit: 20,000/= non refundable deposit, the balance to be paid on arrival.

Dates: Accommodation at Suyian Tuesday 26 th May to Saturday 30 th of May inclusive.

Teaching dates: 27 th May to 30 th May (Allows for arrival on 26 th of May and depart after breakfast Sunday 31st
of May 2015.


  1. Anne Powys
    Mobile: 0722 397 860
    E-mail: annepowys@gmail.com
  2. Dino Martins
    Mobile: 0733 673493
    E-mail: dino.martins@gmail.com

New Location; New Headquarters

The Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s (LWF) new Centre in Nanyuki was officially opened on 11 April 2015. Built with the support of The Kingdom of the Netherlands and USAID – Kenya Mission, the Centre carries on work that began over 20 years ago.


The LWF chairman, Rtd Major General Waweru, awards pupils of Brickwoods Academy after their performance of a poem on environmental conservation

Over 150 members, government officials, supporters and well-wishers attended the opening ceremony, which also showcased LWF’s efforts in water resource management and conservation. Guests included Marielle Geraedts – Head of Development Cooperation from the Embassy of Netherlands; Beatrice Wamalwa – Deputy Program Director USAID’s Kenya Mission,ENRM Office;   H.E. Joshua Irungu – Laikipia Governor and Hon. G.G Kariuki – Laikipia Senator. The day included an animated compelling performance by 3 students from Brickwoods Primary School who emphasised the need for us all to work together in order to ensure that the environment, and wildlife resource, is conserved for future generations.

During his opening remarks, founder member, Mr. Gilfrid Powys took guests through 23 years of history and the origins of the Forum. Inspiration was taken from other conservation and land use models which capitalised on an important partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

Laikipia lies on a high-altitude plateau and is nestled between the Rift Valley, Aberdare Range, and Mt. Kenya. Livelihoods and wildlife are dependent on the greater Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem and herein lies many of LWF’s conservation activities. As a dynamic, membership-led, conservation organisation, LWF provides a platform for dialogue for a cross-section of land owners and land users including local community groups, private ranchers, pastoralists, small-scale farmers and tourism ventures.


Beatrice Wamalua of USAID plants a tree at the new LWF centre

Communities in Laikipia play a vital role in conservation, a point that H.E. Joshua Irungu emphasised as he addressed the gathering. He encouraged the key stakeholders present to work closely with the various fencing efforts to prevent human – wildlife conflicts. He also implored members to work closely with the KWS and applauded the appointment of LWF’s Community Liaison Officer – Virginia Wahome as the new chairperson for the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee (CWCCC).

H.E. Irungu’s sentiments reflected the direction LWF – a vital player in Laikipia natural resources conservation, has embarked on. The organisation’s makeover and new strategic plan (2016-2020) will be a guide in dealing with a challenging environment.

Working closely with the newly-devolved Laikipia County Government will be key in maximising the impacts of natural resources. LWF has also forged important partnerships with private land owners and communities to develop solutions to address persistent challenges facing water, forests, energy, pasture and wildlife management. Laikipia is one of the few places in the world where numerous protected species roam free on private and trust lands – often coming into contact with local community members.

LWF will continue to work with key agencies such as KWS, WRMA and the judiciary in ensuring the Laikipia’s natural resources are conserved through advocacy and governance as well as the formation of platforms for discourse.

office map

Map to the new LWF offices

Since LWF’s inception in 1992 there has been a significant expansion of localised conservation efforts and expertise in relation to wild animals. While wildlife remains central to the conservation effort, LWF has taken an increasingly holistic approach with emphasis on cross-cutting environmental issues that affect larger sections of the human and wildlife population.

LWF’s Members’ subscription to the Forum is a vital vehicle in the realisation of the goals and aspirations of smallholders, community groups, conservancies and large landowners focusing on integrated natural resources management and biodiversity conservation. We serve youth groups and schools in an effort to inform future generations about the values of sustainable land use and management.

LWF’s Chairman of the Board, Maj. Gen (Rtd) Peter Waweru, concluded the ceremony quite eloquently, stating: “in conservation matters there will always be disparities, however it is up to the stakeholders to take decisive measures for the good of all”.

Are you a Member? Join Today!

LWF helps manage water conflicts with USAID funding support

Dry times and drought-like conditions are putting tremendous strains on Laikipia’s river systems. Upstream and downstream water users must collaborate and coordinate their water use if river systems, wildlife, livestock and people are to survive.

ON 10TH Feb 2015, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) together with Lower Ewaso Narok Water Resources Users Association and Water Resources Management Authority Rumuruti office organized a meeting of stakeholders and water users to discuss the continuous depletion of water in the river. The WRUA had reported on 26th January that there was almost zero flow of water at the regular gauging station 5AC8 near Loisaba ranch. Alerts were put out by downstream communities about the risks of conflicts arising as a consequence of lost water flow.

LWF facilitated the meeting that brought by all the water users within the sub catchment and other WRUAs managing watersheds that drain into Ewaso Narok River. LWF led the discussions and action planning that resulted to help regulate and control water usage within the catchment in accordance with the Water Act 2002.

The Act clearly states that water prioritization is first used to satisfy basic human needs and protect aquatic ecosystems and domestic use ahead of all other waters uses from that body of water.

The meeting was attended by over 100 water users within the LENWRUA. Upper Zone WRUAs, namely Melwa, Nyahururu, Oraimutia, Lake Olboisat, Pesi, Ndivai and Equator represented the upper watershed of the Ewaso Narok River. Attending were also representatives from the Laikipia County Government, the Ministry of Internal Security, the Provincial Administration, and the Ministry of Fisheries. The information sharing and discussion sessions were aimed at the current water situation, and we developed a way forward with the aim of conserving and safeguarding the river reserves.

The main challenges contributing to the current situation were: over-abstraction of water by permit holders during the dry seasons; illegal abstraction by portable pump users; lack of water rationing by the upstream users resulting in uncontrolled water abstraction, incorrect tree species planted along the water course (eucalyptus in particular), illegal water use by the prisons department through their wasteful irrigation methods of broken furrows and flooding of their farmland; wasteful water use from the bridge area in Rumuruti to feed the farming activities at the prisons and the fisheries department.

Meeting Participants agreed that small-scale farmers would reduce their irrigable area and adopt rationing programmes. The upstream WRUAs agreed to initiate rationing programmes to ensure the river reserves were safeguarded. WRMA was tasked to close the furrow from the bridge to the prisons and fisheries until such a time when the owners had filed the necessary applications for permits. WRMA was also asked to issue letters to commercial farmers and major abstractors to inform them of the current situation and instruct them to strictly adhere to their allocation during the low river water flows.

A Task Force was set to work with WRUA and WRMA to ensure the tasks noted above were done, and to also monitor the river water levels. This task force was comprised of 15 WRUA members, 5 from each zone. LWF, Ward Administrators, and senior chiefs would support the Task Force team to ensure it meets its objectives.

After the meeting, it was agreed that there was need to ensure that every water user fulfills its role and responsibilities to conserve water use during the dry seasons. Most participants were disappointed by the failure of the prisons department to attend the meeting while it was very clear that their farming activities had adversely affected the available river flow. Also, commercial farmers practicing horticulture upstream of Rumuruti farms had failed to attend the meeting. WRMA, local and the national government representatives were asked to make follow ups with these water users to ensure their activities does not compromise the efforts to conserve the river flow at this critical time of the year.

At the end, it was clear that WRMA and WRUAs forged the goodwill of water users to reduce their water usage until such a time that the situation improves. As a result, the WRUA has reported increased water flow downstream. LWF is dedicated to sustaining this effort during this dry season, and beyond.

LWF Hosts Judicial Dialogue on Wildlife Crime

It is estimated that since 2011, at least 20,000 elephants are poached across Africa annually and their tusks harvested in the most gruesome way. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), 163 elephants and 35 rhinos were poached in various parts of the country in 2014.

The increase of wildlife crime over the last decade has been astounding; resulting in an advanced conscious shift in the discourse between law enforcement and key stakeholders. It is a global realization that sustainable solutions addressing this economically debilitating situation must be achieved.

One of LWF’s mandates focuses on the creation of platforms aimed at bringing together voices that can reach consensus in the action that must be taken to conserve Laikipia’s ecosystem, with the hope that best practices developed will be adopted by stakeholders countrywide.  And so on 21st March 2015 LWF held the second judicial dialogue on wildlife crime at the Sweetwaters Camp – Ol Pejeta. The meeting brought together the Judiciary, Police, KWS and various Conservancies to discuss challenges facing the prosecution of wildlife related crimes.

One fundamental point of concern raised during the 21st March discussions was that poachers in Kenya have often been released due to unsatisfactory evidence, mainly attributed to the “sufficient evidence” clause.  In a nut shell, poachers must be linked directly to the crime committed even though the system is not well equipped to do so.

There are various factors contributing to wildlife crime such as the poor recording of statements; rising poverty levels of communities residing next to wildlife habitats; the reluctant testimony from eye witnesses and the illegal grazing of animals in protected areas including private ranches.

The collaboration between different agencies namely: KWS, Police Administrations, Private Conservancies and Judiciary will be the fundamental foundation for the formation of strategic solutions aimed at tackling wildlife crime in the country. This, together with clear standard operating procedures for investigating and prosecution of cases of wildlife crimes will be key going forward.

A Wildlife Crime Task Force is now in place that has representatives from all key stakeholders and will be pioneering the following:

  • Training and awareness for law enforcement including investigators, prosecutors and security rangers.
  • Mapping of wildlife crime cases in Laikipia and its surrounding environs
  • Engaging political and administration leaders in fighting wildlife crime.
  • Work towards the processing of multiple charges on illegal grazing. Most illegal grazers are charged with trespassing and therefore end up paying a fine of only Kshs 500. Laikipia’s law enforcement has developed a list of offences that can be charged when found grazing illegally and the task force has taken responsibility to push this agenda to ensure that this is implemented. Offences include: being in possession of a firearm, absence of personal ID and trespassing. If found guilty a substantial fine will be enforced.
  • Lobby for more wildlife crime prosecutors as there only 3; a dismal figure for the task ahead.

For more information on this dialogue, contact LWF’s Wildlife Conservation Program Officer, Stephen Nyaga on stephen.nyaga@laikipia.org

Celebration of World Forest Day at Mukogodo Forest

Avid environmental conservationists in Kenya have a lot to be thrilled after the marking of this year’s World Forest Day celebrations that took place at the Yaaku Cultural Centre next to Mukogodo – Nanyuki County, on 21st March.  The setting of the event was Mukogodo Forest, one of East Africa’s few indigenous forests, and the venue perfect to celebrate strides made in forest conservation as well as raise awareness on the importance that forests play in ecosystems across the globe.

According to the United Nations, forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, supporting the livelihood of approximately 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures. It is for this reason that the UN General Assembly purposefully set aside March 21 so that platforms across the world can discuss how to conserve forests as well as develop mitigating strategies that address the destruction of forests.

The theme of the day: “Our Forests – Our Future” created a space where Foresters, Researchers, County Government representatives and authoritative voices from around the world, could discuss key issues with the Yaaku Community who are devoted to protecting Mukogodo forest, not only to support their traditional lifestyle, but for future generations.

Hon. John Bosco Akaale – Laikipia’s County Executive Officer for Water, Environment and Natural resources led a strong delegation in the planting of indigenous tree seedlings and also made room for discourse with the Yaaku community council of elders, local leaders, board members of Makurian group Ranch, Ilngwesi Makurian Mukogodo Sieku—community forest association (ILMAMUSI) and local residents of Makurian group ranch.

The celebration was also marked with songs, poems and traditional dances presented by Nature & Wildlife Clubs from Makurian Primary School, Doldol Boys’ Secondary School, Lentile Academy and the Yaaku and Rendille Women Cultural Troupes. Performances artistically interpreted this year’s World Forest Day theme as well as voiced concern on climate change and subsequent effects on Mukogodo forest and her inhabitants.Proactive discussions such as these are leading to the realisation of conservation management plans and the development of multiple platforms for further discussions on conservation.