Students learn about the diversity of plant species found at MRC with Kimani Ndun'guConservation education in Laikipia gets another boost. 8 US university students arrived for an intensive field course on biology, ecology and rangeland studies in Laikipia.

Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC) and Mpala Research Centre jointly offered a one-week intense field course for this first income generating Wild Class excursion.  At OPC, the students from St. Lawrence University immersed themselves into lessons that focused on grass biomass measurements and grass species identification. They were on a mission to find out more about the effects of abandoned bomas on the health of rangelands.

“ Ol Pejeta Conservancy has been amazing, doing research has been an experience like nothing else. We got to go out into the field with no barrier between the wild animals and us and take measurements. We got to learn a lot about the biodiversity here at Ol Pejeta and I can name almost any grass species or type of dung. We got to talk to the people who know this area best and learn from them. Everything, from our rooms to the food, has been amazing as well. Being here, immersed in this environment has been a life changing experience,” says Erin Waters.

After OPC, the students were off to Mpala Research Centre (MRC). They each managed to get a taste of the research being carried out by the diverse group of resident students, some of whom are from Karatina University and Princeton University. The unique set up of MRC allows for researchers to use the land as a ‘living laboratory’ in which to conduct experiments and answer pressing questions on conservation and wildlife.

“Mpala is also strongly committed to using this research to benefit the surrounding communities, the nation of Kenya, and global conservation efforts as a whole, “says their Director, Dr. Dino Martins.

WILD CLASS is LWF’s new conservation education effort. It links conservation education as an income earner and land use within 10 participating conservancies.  Each paying student helps our conservation education providers subsidise the same experience for Laikipia school pupils – and makes the offering of conservation education more financially sustainable.

Mending Fences – “Stand Off” Now Out!

The first Mending Fences Comic Book will be launched on World Environment Day, in Nanyuki on June 5. This graphic, tongue-in-cheek, but strikingly true depiction of what communities are up against when they decide to protect themselves from elephants.

Human-elephant conflict (HEC) remains an enormous challenge in Laikipia wherever people and elephants share space; and it’s not all about electric fences!  It’s about the will of communities and the authorities to support efforts that allow for good decisions to be made.

HEC in Laikipia, in particular the problem of crop-raiding, is considered a cause of food insecurity and property damage. The illegal killing of elephants and the political tension between those who tolerate elephant conservation and those who suffer the costs of living with elephants are very real.

To address this problem the Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and local landowners, through funding provided by the Kenya Government and Royal Netherlands Embassy, initiated the 163 km West Laikipia Fence (WLF) project initiated in 2007.

This Project builds on the Laikipia Fencing Strategy developed by Laikipians in 2002, led by LWF, and broadly endorsed by local and national stakeholders concerned with the livelihoods and safety of people, and the conservation of an endangered species – the African Elephant.

Due to the seriousness of HEC in Laikipia, LWF continues to work with landowners, agricultural and pastoralist communities to find ways that electric fences (and other practices) can be used to prevent human-wildlife conflicts from escalating. We have joined KWS and the County Government of Laikipia to improve electric fencing in western Laikipia among rural, agricultural members in Marmanet, Rumuruti and Lariak Forests. LWF is also part of the Governor’s task force to rebuild the damaged and destroyed sections of the West Laikipia Fence, along with Space for Giants and landowners. We are working with Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), ranchers, and community conservancies to reduce and manage HEC in our rangelands.

Mending Fences

Join us soon for the release of the “STAND_OFF” in Western Laikipia later this month!

LWF Goes Forward – Changes at LWF

EmployeesA big part of any organisation is its ability to change and be flexible; LWF is no different. For 24 years, LWF has gone through a number of changes that helped it grow and respond to its membership, opportunities and demands.

More recently, and for the last 8 years, LWF has enjoyed the generosity of US and Dutch tax-payers who supported our Mission: “To conserve Laikipia’s wildlife and ecosystem integrity and improve the lives of its people”, and programmes in Laikipia.

This present level of funding comes to an end in June 2016. With the end of this funding comes the departure of staff members whose positions were dependent on donor support.

The end of June also comes with celebration of our accomplishments. These were achieved, in no small part, by the dedication of these same staff.

Because of their efforts, we can celebrate the formation and support to:

  • 29 Water Resource User Groups
  • 13 Community Forest Associations
  • 53 Community Enterprise Groups
  • 12 Community Fence Management Teams
  • 13 Grazing Teams
  • 4 Holistic Management Committees
  • 100 School Groups assisted every year in conservation education

We extend a heartfelt vote of thanks to the unit directors, field personnel, programme personnel, and support staff that made work with this many groups possible.

We also thank the communities and partnerships that supported this success.

LWF is not going away. We return to our roots. We will remain a FORUM – a place where people can meet to exchange ideas and to fashion solutions to natural resource problems in Laikipia and the Ewaso basin.

We will continue to address our common Laikipia issues of wildlife, rangeland health, and water resources.

We will work harder to listen to the many voices of our membership and work to strengthen their institutions.

You will see us emerge stronger and more capable of supporting your neighbourhood priorities. You will find us better able to serve you to connect your livelihoods with conservation of our natural resources.

Join us in honouring the contributions of these departing LWF staff

More than 15 years!

Josephat Musyima – Director of Programmes  – 19 years of service

Josephat started work with LWF in 1997 and was hired by Gilfred Powys to serve the early needs of the Forum when zebras were being harvested in Laikipia. He served in various LWF roles including Programmes Coordinator and acting Executive Director, until promoted to Director of Programmes in 2015.

David Masere – Senior Community Liaison Officer – 17 years of service

More than 10 years

Martin Kahindi – Assistant Education Officer – 13 years of service

More than 5 years

Dorothy Katungwa – Office Manager – 7 years of service

0-5 Years

  1. Jackson Njari – Conservation Education Officer and LWF Education Bus Driver of service
  2. David Silanke – CLO Ewaso Ngiro Unit
  3. Moses Mbarlai – CLO Central Unit
  4. Wilson Remoi – CLO Northern Unit
  5. Ochen Maiyani – Eastern Unit
  6. David Mutaru – CLO HEC Fences Maintenance
  7. James Thiong’o – CLO Western Unit
  8. Ibrahim Lesian – CLO Northern Unit
  9. Mejooli Wilfred Lesit – CLO Rangelands
  10. David Ewan Lesowopir – CLO Rangelands/ former Desert Edge extension agent
  11. Ann Wangari – Office Cleaner
  12. Sakina Wanja – Security and Office Assistant
  13. Grace Wanjiku – Receptionist and Membership Administrator
  14. Gilbert Momanyi – Strategic Planning and Evaluation

You can continue to find membership guidance and support from these LWF staff remaining:

  1. Rosemary Oyugi – Head of Finance and Administration
  2. Eunice Wangari – Accounts
  3. James Mwangi – Mt. Kenya-Ewaso Water Partnership Officer
  4. Virginia Wahome – Wildlife Conservation Programme Officer and CWCCC Chair
  5. Joan Wandegi – Communications
  6. Gabriel Maina – Grounds Keeper
  7. Matthew Chana – Rangelands Specialist
  8. Moses Cheruyiot Kipchirchir – Transport Management and Driver
  9. Margaret Wambua – M&E Specialist
  10. Peter Hetz – Executive Director

To find out more about LWF and its future, please stay tuned to the next Forum Focus, or:

Visit us on our website at www.laikipia.org, or

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or

Visit our offices behind the ASK Showground, along the Likii River.