Fly down Mount Kenya’s slopes at the annual forest fundraiser 10to4 Mountain Bike Race.

Pump up your wheels and get ready for the annual Fly540 10to4 Mount Kenya bike race set to take place on 12th to 14th February 2016. The event that takes place on the outskirts of Nanyuki town includes the highlight of an exhilarating descend from 10,000ft through dense indigenous forest en route to the rolling lowlands of Borana Conservancy. Mountain bikers will enjoy sightings of wildlife along the way which is bound to add to the excitement.

The 10to4 is a fundraising event organised by Mount Kenya Trust – a non-profit company – which works in partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to protect the Mount Kenya Forest. Vast bamboo and moorlands host incredible biodiversity including endangered species listed under the IUCN such as African elephant, leopard, giant forest hog, mountain bongo and Harvey’s Duiker, along with 81 endemic species of plants. Mount Kenya Forest is continuously under pressure, where indigenous tree logging, overgrazing, charcoal extraction, forest fires and marijuana production is rife and where cases of wildlife poaching and the bush meat trade are on the rise.

Proceeds from this event will help to support mobile anti-poaching rangers, known as the Joint Wildlife Patrol Team, who respond to illegal activities. Also supported are a 5-man mountain horse patrol team, the first of its kind on Mount Kenya, who patrol the northern side of the Reserve, along with security and fencing teams working tirelessly all year round to fix damaged elephant fences.

Since 2010, the Trust maintains an elephant corridor that reconnects a historical and almost lost migration pathway between the habitats of Mount Kenya, The Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, Lewa Conservancy and the northern rangelands of Laikipia and Samburu.

Over 350,000 trees have been planted by the Trust so far in areas of degraded forestland in partnership with the KFS Plantation Establishment Livelihood Improvement System (PELIS). This in turn supports women engaged in tree seedling nurseries businesses, environmental education in schools and health programmes. Fire fighting efforts are also funded by the race.

Conserve & protect

Preservation of the forest is critical not just to wildlife but also for the millions of Kenyans who depend on water from the Tana (Kenya’s longest and largest river) and Ewaso Ng’iro river basins. The rivers running off the mountain link the wetter highlands with the drier lowlands – either directly as river water or indirectly through refreshing ground water supplies. Runoff from Mount Kenya supplies almost 50 per cent of Kenya’s river drainage systems along with over 65 per cent hydropower.

Registration for the 10to4 is now open, and will close on 31st January. Log on to www.10to4.org for more details or search for the Mount Kenya10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge on FaceBook.

Ol Pejeta increases investment into community development

Now more than ever, wildlife conservation is inextricably linked with the livelihoods of local communities. Ol Pejeta seeks to support the people living around its borders, to ensure wildlife conservation translates to better education, healthcare and infrastructure for the next generation of wildlife guardians. Through business enterprises and with the help of willing donors (both large and small) Ol Pejeta Conservancy works to develop the funding necessary to pay for our wildlife conservation work, and to provide financial assistance to projects that assist the people living within our neighbouring communities.
By the end of 2014, Ol Pejeta Conservancy had raised and dispersed over US$ 6.5 million in support of its community development programme. The conservancy works closely with local government and a variety of elected community representatives across the district to identify projects that qualify for assistance from the Conservancy.
All projects are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and must contain some element of community contribution. Ol Pejeta aims to concentrate on the following core areas: health, education, water, roads, agriculture and livestock extension services and the development of community-based conservation tourism ventures. Based on regular socio-economic surveys, the Conservancy targets provide the support necessary to address real needs and to make a real difference to the lives of the people who live nearby.

LWF performance update – 2015

LWF is happy to present a strong organisation, with a returning, robust membership of close to 6, 000 individuals. Our membership renewal efforts and your support in 2015 has resulted in membership fees of more than Ksh 2.75M – more than three times the average LWF membership revenue of any previous year.
The LWF team of 30 is divided between our headquarters in Nanyuki and 5 Laikipia County management units and all address the Forum’s 8 programme areas.
The 5 strong, active Unit Directors: Anne Powys for Northern Unit; Mike Roberts for Eastern Unit; John Horsey for Central Unit; Robert Kariuki for Western Unit; Kimani Kuria for Ewaso Nyiro Unit, continue to volunteer their expertise and time to the Forum.
Sitting on the Forum’s Board is Chairman Peter Waweru, the Executive Director, and representatives from the County Government, BATUK, KWS, the Laikipia Tourism/Investors sector, and the Mpala Research Centre.
County
We celebrate in particular, our growing relationship with the Laikipia County Government in the following areas:
• Appointment of the County Secretary for Tourism, Trade, and Cooperative Development, Jane Putunoi to the LWF Board
• LWF’s participation in the County Task Force on the West Laikipia Fence, and at the request of the Governor, a review of the community engagement and support for the Rumuruti Forest Fence.
• Support for the nation’s first County-level bill in support of Sustainable Tourism
• Support for the nation’s first County-level Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.
• Close coordination with the County Government on the formation of a National Resource Management (NRM) secretariat to advise County Government on NRM and Climate Change
• Close work with the County Commissioner on the documentation and impacts of Human/Wildlife Conflict and Human/Human incidences of conflict over natural resources and property.
• Close collaboration on funding and capacity building necessary to support our WRUAs, water conservation, water management rules, and watershed management.
• Formation of a cross-county integrated water conservation and management partnership (Nyeri, Meru, and Laikipia Counties) that also includes the private sector and membership organisations like LWF and Mt. Kenya Trust.
• Renewable Energy Conference – sponsored by LWF and co-hosted by the German Chamber of Commerce and the Laikipia County Government, to address opportunities for renewable energy investment and technology options for Laikipia’s energy needs.
Partners
Let us also take this opportunity to acknowledge our Laikipia, Regional, National and International Partners:
First the different groups that include CFAs, WRUAS, Schools, Enterprise Groups and Fence Committees You are the stewards of our environment on which your livelihoods depend.
Second, our landowners – both private and community – you are the backbone of the Forum.
Third – we are proud to work with our County/Regional partners: Zeitz Foundation, Laiconar, KWS, KFS, WRMA, Northern Rangelands Trust and Northern Rangelands Trust – Trading (NRT/NRT-T), Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, CETRAD, Mt. Kenya Trust, Space for Giants, Grevy Zebra Trust
Fourth – our national and international partners: The Nature Conservancy, African Wildlife Foundation, The International Conservation Caucus Foundation, African Conservation Centre, EcoTourism Kenya, Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association and Kenya Wildlife Service
Last but no means least our Donors: United States Agency for International Development and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Program Highlights
Water – With the generous support of USAID, the programme supported 3 WRUA’s with office operations by providing them with office equipment (desks, laptops and printers), 2 benefited from the construction of common water intakes, and 60 water metres were installed for 8 WRUAs that also benefited from capacity building. There were also forums formed for WRUAs that aimed at resolving water use conflict during the dry spell experienced in 2015.
Rangelands – Despite the closure of the Holistic Management component led by Natural Capital, the LWF Rangelands Programme continued to contribute to: the Grazing Task Force and development of a more comprehensive approach to grazing management in Laikipia (with NRT-T and Space for Giants); Rangelands Outreach Team dedicated to addressing issues of peace and security stemming from a massive incursion of people and livestock from outside the county; participation in inter-county and international forums dedicated to livestock management, pastoralism, and natural resources management (with the assistance of FAO and others); and conduct of an impact evaluation of the effectiveness of the holistic management programme in Laikipia group ranches.
Forests – the Forest Programme largely focused on law enforcement and capacity building . In 2015 LWF supported 7 CFAs with forest scouts uniforms, 2 CFAs were trained on start-up of ecotourism enterprises and 1 CFA was assisted to renew their forest management plan. Plans are still afoot to identify and develop a cost-effective forest guard training programme that can be replicated at county levels.

Wildlife – While procurement delays within County Government meant little progress was made on the Rumuruti and West Laikpia Elephant Fence projects, the Wildlife Programme made headway on policy, legislation, and law enforcement components of its portfolio. LWF contributed to many discussions and drafts of the 23 WCMA regulations and orders that interpret the act. Our analysis of the effectiveness of community managed electric fences in Laikipia (apart from the West Laikipia Fence) illustrates the general failure of community managed electric fences to control human wildlife conflict or illegal encroachment by livestock.
Conservation Enterprise – this year we closed Desert Edge Bio-Trading Ltd. The Company failed to make any money, was a financial burden to LWF, and after five years was unable to demonstrate a successful business venture. Desert Edge assets were sold to recover losses, and the company moved to formal closure. Conservation Enterprise groups continued to receive training in product production and marketing until the end of September 2015. All efforts are focused on helping enterprise group’s transition to more sustainable products and better markets. In 2015 the program worked with 12 community enterprise groups.
Environmental Education – the Programme continued to provide school excursions for primary and secondary schools in Laikipia to local conservancies. In 2015, 79 schools were assisted, with a total of 1, 744 pupils that included 1, 100 boys and 644 girls. Moreover, the Programme developed and offered tailored guide training for the Forum’s conservancies and ranches with guiding/educational programmes. This was the first time local talent was harnessed in favour of this important service. A total of 17 local guides from Laikipia conservancies were trained on current methods of disseminating environmental education content.
The environmental education programme is addressing the long-term sustainability of its outreach support to local schools and other stakeholders. Expect major new programming to commence in 2016.
Tourism – The Tourism programme underwent a significant transition this year, as it focused less on tourism promotion and marketing for Laikipia facilities, and more on the development of an enabling environment for tourism business with County Government. Our two biggest achievements were the joint development of the nation’s first county tourism bill and the nation’s first county-focused tourism master plan. Both efforts help to focus the County as a centre of sustainable tourism with appropriate incentives, governance, branding and marketing. Eco Tourism Kenya and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council Standards provided guidance. The Laikipia County Sustainable Tourism Bill will be enacted early in 2016.
Peace and Security – All our efforts in 2015 were focused on issues related to human-wildlife conflicts, and human-livestock conflicts. Our staff and CLOs provided advice, conflict mitigation and management support, reporting, and watch-dog/advocacy efforts to identify and manage natural resource access and use conflicts throughout the landscape. Most efforts were focused on rangelands and grass access on private lands, but other efforts include work with WRUAs to ensure downstream water access, wildlife compensation sensitization, and support to the newly formed County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committees.
Other – There are three other noteworthy items to report for 2015:
1. LWF is a Board Member of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association – a membership organisation supporting the conservancy movement in Kenya. In that capacity, LWF joined KWCA and others to petition Government on a host of issues impacting community lands and land tenure legislation in Kenya. The results of these efforts are pending.
2. NRT and LWF formed a working relationship on matters related to water conservation and management, Mukugodo Forest, rangelands, and the conservancy movement in Laikipia. We can expect many more joint efforts related to these themes and others in 2016.
3. LWF launches the Laikipia Unity Landscape. With the support of key LWF members, LWF has launched an effort for conservation at a landscape level in Laikipia. A majority of landowners have agreed to design and subscribe to a compact that will govern land use and management into the future and in keeping with revenue generation, employment, food production and conservation goals.
Strategic, Long Term, Sustainability
With the support of a USAID grant, we will use the period of January-June 2016 to analyse, discuss and deliberate our future as an organisation.
LWF will ensure that teams visit each of the LWF units, meet with landowners both large and small, and engage them in the development of LWF’s future. Other meetings will include other stakeholder groups in our landscape.
We will also address key programming areas like wildlife, rangelands, water, peace and security in an effort to determine our future role in this landscape.
Our new Membership Management System and Communications Department will generate information and SMS communication to keep you engaged in the process. Stay tuned for updates and a calendar of events through our website and Forum Focus.
By the closure of 2016, we can expect to have an LWF that is even more responsible and more capable of achieving its Mission:
To conserve Laikipia’s Wildlife and Ecosystem integrity and to improve the lives of its people.

The fight against the little bug causing big problems in Laikipia

Every year, untold numbers of wildlife and livestock succumb to Tick-Borne Diseases (TBD) in Laikipia. The disease also affects animals worldwide, resulting to economic losses amounting to millions of dollars. Ticks, small but deadly, cause diseases such as East Coast Fever, Q. Fever, Babesiosi and Heartwater and recently, Laikipia registered approximately 30 tick– borne diseases that is a major cause for concern.
In December 2015, Mpala Research Centre hosted a Tick Day, inviting key stakeholders to listen to findings from a group of Kenyan scientists and researchers on the biology of ticks in Laikipia. There were practical demonstrations, opportunities for participants to ask questions and discussions on future research direction. Also present were researchers from the University of Illinois Tick Survey Project who focused on the impact of ticks on local communities and livestock. There were also presentations on some of the work done on preventing rabies.
Addressing participants during the open day was Dr. Brian Allen who emphasized on the diseases spread by ticks, saying; “ticks transmit numerous protozoa, viral, bacterial and fungal pathogens to all livestock, wildlife and they actually make people sick”. Dr. Steven Huckett, researcher from the University of Illinois, also added that there was a need to create public awareness and educate the community on how ticks affect socio- economic life.
Laikipia Wildlife Forum facilitated a group of livestock producers/farmers from Timau, Doldol, Jua kali drawn from two units namely; Eastern and Central who visited. “Out of the 45 properties in Laikipia, we sampled 25 comprising of conservancies, private and community ranches, ticks distribution was found highest in conservancies and lowest in ranches”, says Dr. Sharon Okanga who also gave a presentation during the event.
The high numbers of ticks are partly attributed to their reproduction biology. Female hard ticks often take one large blood meal after mating in which they swell up and drop from their host, laying hundreds to thousands of eggs. Males on the other hand feed repeatedly on their hosts throughout their lifetime before death. Ticks long lifespan is due to the fact that they are able to survive for one or more years even without feeding. They are also injurious and in large numbers they cause serious blood loss and secondary infections at the feeding sites that diminish the value of hides from livestock.
Increased awareness is required on tick borne infections as they show only minor or no symptoms. Doctors also have very little or no information on the diseases resulting in delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Range Management and Grazing Plans were highlighted as successful ways of controlling tick population.
Mpala Research Centre facilitates and exemplifies sustainable human-wildlife co-existence, advancement of human livelihoods and quality of life. The research centre continues to successfully execute this through education, outreach, development of science-based solutions to guide conservation actions for the benefit of nature and human welfare. The Laikipia Tick Project, sponsored by U.S. National Science Foundation, was seeking to understand consequences and potential benefits of wildlife – livestock integration as a control mechanism for ticks and its associated pathogens. So far, it is clear that proper cattle management can be used to improve overall health of livestock, wildlife and land. Additionally, studies from the UHURU experiment by Georgia Titcomb, a student from University of California Santa Barbara, aims to show how common water points affected transmission whereas the SCRAPS project by Dr. Adam Ferguson, shows how small animals, weighing less than 15 Kg, acted as ‘vehicles’ for carrying and spreading ticks in their movement patterns and contact with other animals. SCRAPS (Small Carnivore Research and Parasite Study) project answers the question of what small animals? Transmit which parasites? And how does transmission occur in communities with different land use systems.
An understanding of disease transmission by common pets like dogs is also being studied. Herding dogs are believed to be a medium transmitting more parasites from interaction with wildlife than home dogs. The progress made in this project is significant. Already 821 animals have been vaccinated in a free Rabies Vaccination Campaign in Koija, Il Motiok, Endana, Mara moja, Naibo and Jua Kali areas. Dedan Ngatia, a Msc. student from Karatina University currently doing the dog research says in future they plan to expand research on how other animals transmit different diseases too.
Control of ticks and tick-borne diseases requires significant development in order to better understand tick population biology and how to control these dangerous vectors. In future, Mpala Research Centre promises to give the public more fun, interesting and educative side of research.

New public-private partnership tackles water conservation and management

In a bold move to address the challenges of water conservation and management in the Ewaso Nyiro sub-catchment, public and private representatives of water interests met in December 2015 to initiate a new water resources partnership.
Representatives from Water Departments within Meru and Nyeri Counties, joined their Laikipia counterpart at a meeting that included green growers, WRUAs, flower farms, ranches, CETRAD, Mt. Kenya Trust, Rural Focus and LWF. The meeting, held at the Lions Court Inn on December 9, set the stage for development of a public-private partnership. Adding to the success of the meeting was a presentation by International Finance Corporation (IFC) which highlighted the opportunities provided by the 2030 Water Resources Group – a public-private-civil society partnership established at the World Economic Forum in 2008.
The meeting also benefitted from a presentation by Kamau Mbogo, CEO of Imarisha Naivasha, the nation’s first public-private water resources partnership focused on the Naivasha Lake and watershed.
LWF’s implementing partner, Rural Focus, gave a particularly strong presentation of the realities of water demand, use, distribution, and impacts to downstream water users in the three counties. “Unless we address this problem in a focused and collective manner, we can expect huge impacts on our rivers, downstream ecosystems and water users. There will be increasing water conflicts and serious impacts to livelihoods unless we address these issues now”, said Mike Thomas, Chief Engineer at Rural Focus.
The new partnership aims to address water abstraction, distribution, conservation and management across the three counties. Additional counties, particularly those downstream will be addressed in the near future. The meeting’s participants appointed a task force to take the new water partnership forward. The team will examine the scope, scale, structure, governance, and financing of the partnership. The 10-member task force will develop this road map by March 2016 and will be expected to address: sustainable water resource allocation and abstraction; water security and efficiency for small holder irrigation schemes; strengthen WRUA and WRMA capacity; and address the scale and impacts of groundwater use.
LWF will serve as secretariat to the task force and expects to play a significant role in the future of this new water resources partnership. For more information contact: James Mwangi, Water Programme Officer, at james.mwangi@laikipia.org or on 0727 998319

Mid Ewaso WRUA takes another step forward

The conservation and management of water is a part of devolution, and this critical resource is supervised by both national and regional authorities. However, surface water management has not yet devolved to County structures, and so Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) are the basic tool for sub-catchment management of water use.
The Mid Ewaso WRUA is an important group linking the upper Ewaso Nyiro watershed with the lower Ewaso Nyiro river area. Water off-take in the system has been fraught with problems, particularly during the dry spells when much of the sub-catchments river waters and their sources have disappeared.
Based on a directive by the Water Resources Management Authority (WRMA) given in 2012, the Mid Ewaso WRUA was split into five manageable areas that must be addressed in the area’s Sub-Catchment Management Plan (SCMP). The SCMP is the major tool for Government and local water resource users to manage and monitor water use and conservation. Based on the WRMA directive, the Mid Ewaso WRUA was required to update their SCMP and this led to the formation of a key partnership between the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and LWF to achieve this revision.
In early December, 20 Mid Ewaso WRUA members, chairmen of select Group Ranches within the sub-catchment, area chiefs and private ranches met at Ol Gaboli Lodge to address the requirements of Government. Participants were led by the WRMA Isiolo sub-region in discussing how current challenges, new interventions, budgets and timelines can be prioritised.
This process will result in a revised and improved SCMP that will guide the WRUA and its stakeholders to address water resource management issues within the sub catchment. Implementation of the plan will require financial support from the Water Services Trust Fund (WSTF), Laikipia County Government, donors and other stakeholders supporting community based water resource management within the upper Ewaso Nyiro catchment.
The phases required to finalise the review of the SCMP include:
• WRUA capacity building on new WDC chapters namely: flood management, climate change and alternative livelihoods,
• Stakeholders meeting for revision and updating of the original plan
• Validation of the draft SCMP, and;
• Approval and adoption.
LWF and AWF will continue to work together to support finalisation of the SCMP for the Mid Ewaso WRUA.

The SCMP is a plan that is developed by the WRUA in collaboration with WRMA and other stakeholders. The SCMP reflects a set of activities designed to meet identified objectives (targets) to address WRM problems within the sub-catchment. It is expected that the SCMP is a document that is periodically reviewed to ensure that the plan remains relevant to prevailing WRM problems and to best management approaches.

LWF strategic planning calendar 2016

LWF’s strategic planning process is set to take place from January 2016 and run until the end of February 2016. Running concurrently to this are forums for other stakeholders to participate and will include: the Laikipia County Government; representatives from surrounding County Governments; National Resource Management (NRM) bodies; members of Laikipia’s business community; research and environmental NGOs and the large land owners. LWF members belonging to CBOs as well opinion leaders and community members have also been invited.

 

The Great Grevy’s Rally set to impact conservation in Laikipia

Laikipia, and the greater Ewaso landscape have embarked on a mission to be Kenya’s very own Citizen Science destination. The launch pad for this initiative will be the Great Grevy’s Rally (GGR) scheduled to take place from the 29th to 31st January 2016. Residents of Laikipia and visitors alike have been invited to share in the science of discovery and to engage in asking questions that will focus future efforts, both for scientific investigation and management of these key, unique territories and their resources. The essence of Citizen Science is that volunteers collect and share information that can be analysed by scientists and citizen participants.
This information then becomes rich material for public feedback, wider public information sharing, lobbying, advocacy, funding and the development of new projects. In essence, we’re increasingly talking about the “democratisation” of science, scientific funding, and the use of scientific results.
The GGR is the first important step in making Citizen Science a reality for Laikipia and the greater Ewaso landscape. This scientifically supervised engagement of the public will yield the first attempted complete census of the endangered Grevy’s zebra in Kenya. It will contribute to their conservation and rehabilitation as a keystone Ewaso Landscape animal. It will also bring economic, tourism and PR benefits to the participating counties that can be judged in the millions of shillings. Perhaps the brand – ” Utafiti ya Wanainchi” will brand this landscape well into the future.
The GGR is expected to have great positive impact on conservation and organisers are encouraging all Kenyans, enthusiastic about conservation, to get involved. Registration for the event is through the event’s website – www.greatfrevysrally.com, and participants are all expected to attend the event’s briefing that will take place at Nanyuki Sports Club on 29th January from 8am to 3pm prior to travelling to their designated areas for the Rally.
Members of Kenya’s Grevy’s Zebra Technical Committee along with local partners are leading the charge to organise and implement the GGR. The organising committee includes: Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Kenya Wildlife Services, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Marwell Wildlife, Northern Rangelands Trust, Samburu Trust, Saint Louis Zoo (USA), and Princeton University (USA). In addition, local partners are joining to support and facilitate the event, including Mpala Research Centre and the county governments of Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit and Samburu. Conservation partners are joining together to census this endangered species, and now we invite you to join the rally save the Grevy’s zebra!

Virginia Wahome appointed Wildlife Management Programme Officer

Virginia Wahome has been appointed Wildlife Management Programme Officer for Laikipia Wildlife Forum. In her new role, Virginia will manage the implementation of the Rumuruti and West Laikipia Fence projects through training, building community awareness, as well as help to strengthen stakeholder partnerships. Virginia’s experience in community development work dates back over 10 years and has served as Community Liaison Officer for Western Unit for a decade. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Development Studies from Mt Kenya University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Development Studies from the same university. Virginia is also the current Chairman of the Laikipia County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee.