What does the Death of Sudan Mean for Laikipia?

Sudan, the last male Northern white rhino

Sudan with his caregiver at the Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia.  Photo: Courtesy/Ol Pejeta Conservancy

This March, the wildlife conservation community and the world mourned the death of 45-year-old Sudan, the last known male Northern White Rhino on earth. In his last days, he suffered a great deal due to age-related complications that had led to degenerative changes in his body.

What does his life and his subsequent death in Laikipia forebode? Is Laikipia destined to become a graveyard for rare and endangered species? Is this where the world’s “last” and “remaining” come to live out their lives?

Sudan’s death has focused the world’s attention on the plight of endangered species – and more specifically on the role that the greater Laikipia landscape plays in wildlife conservation. With 70% of Kenya’s wildlife lost over the last 30 years, and 65% of that remaining wildlife living outside of national parks and reserves, perhaps it’s time to turn our mourning into action on private lands – individual and community.

The wildlife populations in Laikipia are already legend in Kenya. Our wildlife population has largely been maintained over the last 30 years. Several species are at risk, and our biodiversity challenged, but in large part, our wildlife numbers are robust.

Let’s work to keep the greater Laikipia area the best landscape for wildlife conservation, livelihoods and productive land use in the Country.

What could be a more fitting tribute than this to the memory of Sudan?

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Disney Has a New Feature Project in the Mukogodo!

Disney Project

Makurian group ranch met and discussed the restoration of grazing plans and designation of secure grazing areas

Community members from the Makurian, Il Ngwesi and Sieku group ranches, with support from Laikipia Wildlife Forum, held independent meetings in March. The purpose of the meetings was to introduce the Disney Project funding that supports the reduction of Human-Elephant Conflict in the area of the Mukogodo Forest.

The Disney Project puts rangelands improvement, spring protection and settlement protection at the top of the list of actions.

Restoration Of Grazing Plans and Rangeland Management in three Group Rances – Markurian, Il Ngwesi and Sieku Group Ranches

Rangeland rehabilitation will include the reorganization of group ranch grazing committees; community awareness forums on Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC); improved herding practices; the formation of grazing plans in select areas, and designation of secure grazing areas.

A reward based system, in collaboration with Borana Conservancy, will be developed for the best performing group ranch (including improved access to markets and veterinary support).

The Disney Project was welcomed as an additional form of support in managing existing resources, which support livestock as the main source of livelihood for communities living in the group ranch.

The Chairman for grazing management committee at Il Ngwesi, Mr Maisulia Kiyaa, acknowledged the vibrant committee at the Il Ngwesi Conservancy that would steer the project, but noted with concern the glaring challenges where the Mukogodo forest has been invaded for cultivation.

The meeting at Sieku (Lekurruki) brought to light the challenges that hinder the effective performance of the grazing committee including the invasion of the forests by pastoralists from neighbouring counties,who are not subject to the grazing plans.

However, having successfully defended some grazing areas within the Lekurruki Conservancy with help of rangers, there was optimism that more could be achieved working under the umbrella leadership of ILMAMUSI CFA.

MKEWP Updates

Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) Council adopts its Financial Sustainability Plan (FSP)

Mount kenya Ewaso Water Partnership

The Council of Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) take a group photo after the Council Meeting on 13th March 2018

 

In a meeting held on the 13th of March 2018, the MKEWP Council unanimously agreed to pass the FSP which is key to the implementation of the Partnership’s strategic plan over the next five years.

The adoption of the Financial Sustainability Plan will:

  • Allow MKEWP to start membership recruitment
  • Implement additional fundraising and resource mobilization.
  • Provide a mechanism for implementation of the 5-year MKEWP Strategy.

In the meeting, the Council also nominated a five Member Executive Committee that includes:

The Chair of The Council, Mr Maina , Mr Timothy Mutie from Water Resource Authority; Mr Mike Thomas- Rural Focus; Ms Eddah Adero, from CETRAD, and Mr Murithi Muthuri the Chairman of  Ngusishi WRUA.

The key roles of the executive committee will be to work with the MKEWP secretariat and provide oversight and support of its activities.

Finally, Stanley Kirimi, MKEWP Coordinator, was appointed to Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) board as a representative of the MKWP Council. The new Laikipia Wildlife Forum Board is expected to form later this year and will represent at least 8 different organizations in the Greater Laikipia Landscape, including MKEWP.

MKEWP’s Water Field Trip challenges farmers

MKEWP water Field Trip

The Water Field Trip brought together the Mount Kenya Trust, MKEWP and farmers who are also members of Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) and Self Help Groups in Laikipia and Meru Counties. It showcased best water management practices by innovators in the Mt. Kenya area.

Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) organised a Water Field Trip on the 9th March as part of the ten-day programme of the Mount Kenya Trust Festival.

The trip showcased best water management practices by innovators in the Mt. Kenya area.

It brought together the Mount Kenya Trust, MKEWP and farmers who are also members of Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) and Self Help Groups in Laikipia and Meru Counties.

The farmers had a chance to visit MOOF Africa Farm, where they taught about organic farming and alternative high-value crops that require little water. For example, they were encouraged to grow Geranium, a commercial herb cultivated for essential oils that utilize small amounts of water as compared to other crops grown in Laikipia.

The second visit of the day was to the Lolomarik Farm in Timau, where the group learned about collaboration between a big commercial farm and a local WRUA (Ngusishi).  They were also taken through the proper use of harvested water on rose farming and alternative water sources that could minimize abstraction from rivers.

Lolomarik Farm has taken advantage of its greenhouses, harvesting rainwater, which is channelled to water reservoirs. The farm has also drilled boreholes to diversify its sources of water.

The group was also taken through process of recycling used water using wetlands to produce water for farming.

The last visit of the day was to a small-scale farmer- Mr and Mrs. Patrick Maina, in Nturukuma, where the group learned about water harvesting and efficient water use. Mr and Mrs. Maina, who is recognized as a water champion, has perfected water harvesting and collects rainwater from his home in a 1.8 million litre water reservoir.

He uses modern water technology like drip and moist irrigation to minimise water use.

The Water Field Trip was a big success as MKEWPs coordinator challenged farmers to adopt simple but effective water conservation and management methods in their households and in their user groups, especially in regards to water collection and storage.

Special Commendation to Conservation Heroes

On the final day of the Mount Kenya Trust Festival, two women from Nanyuki were recognized for their efforts in water management and conservation.

The partnership gave Mary Mukami of Nanyuki WRUA special commendation for her role in water conservation; while Charity Wamaitha Maina of Likii WRUA was recognized as a Water Conservation Hero.

Likii Wrua in River Clean Up

River Likii Laikipia

Locals take part in Likii River clean-up exercise organised by Likii WRUA on the 8th of March 2018

On the 8th of March 2018, the Mount Kenya Ewaso Partnership (MKEWP) participated in clean-up exercise of Likii River organised by Likii Water Resource User Group (WRUA).

The partnership together with Water Resource Authority (WRA), Water Sector Trust Fund (WSTF), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), joined the efforts of residents living along the river.

The effort cleaned up a 3 km stretch of the River between the bridge on the main road to the confluence with the Nanyuki River.

Fauna and Flora International eager for more partnerships

This March, Fauna and Flora International (FFI) met with stakeholders in Laikipia County in its eagerness to consolidate partnerships in the implementation of its project in Mutara and Suguroi.

In the meeting, FFI took the stakeholders through baseline survey results that will be used to enhance resilience in Laikipia County. This was an outcome of household surveys held in December 2017 to establish current water accessibility and demand by WRUA members.

Together with the partners, FFI met with WRUAS at Mutara and Sugoi ,where they held discussions on how to sustain river flows in the area during dry seasons.

This is part of FFI’s strategy of ensuring that natural resources across the Laikipia Plateau are conserved and used sustainably.

Laikipia Cattle,Water and Wildlife Project is funded by the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding.

The project is implemented with partnership of FFI, LWF and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Bicycle-powered cinema braves heavy rains, reveals conservation heroes

bike powered Cinema

Clockwise from top:: A school boy pedals the stationery bicycle at Kanyunga Primary in Ngare Ndare; Locals watch the cinema at Ngare Ndare shopping center; Hannah and Jamie from Stand Up For Nature during the screening at Painted Dogs and Redeemed academy pupils in Likii at their school hall .

 

In the month of March, the residents of Laikipia were treated to a bicycle-powered cinema that revealed the success of community conservation and celebrated rhino and wildlife conservation heroes.

The cinema came a month after Laikipia Wild Forum (LWF) and four Laikipia rhino conservancies hosted two young film-makers from Stand Up For Nature during the shooting stage. The filmmakers, who are dedicated to conserving wildlife, returned to show the films using a homemade, bicycle-powered cinema.

In a span of five days, together with LWF team, they braved unseasonable, heavy rains and muddy roads screening the films in the County with a focus on rhinos, wildlife conservation, healthy and sustainable rangelands and conservation education.

The film reached more than 2,600 community members and school children and further emphasised the rhino as an iconic species that can be used as a showcase species for maintaining wildlife habitat in general.

The cinema event coincided with the World Wildlife Day 2018 and used #VifaruWetuMaliYetu (Our Rhinos Our Asset) as guiding principle during its screening. It was especially important in the County because it currently hosts about 50% of Kenya’s black rhino population and 70% of Kenya’s white rhino population.

Celebration of our local conservation heroes is important because they are part of the larger community that is helping Kenya achieve its goal of having 2000 rhinos by 2025.

This film and cinema were supported by Laikipia Wildlife Forum and four Laikipia rhino conservancies: Borana Conservancy, Il Ngwesi Conservancy, Ol Jogi Conservancy, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

These conservancies played a big role in the production of the film and continue to protect more than half of both white and black rhino population in Kenya.

Upon completion of final editing, copies of the films on conservation heroes will be made available to the public by Stand Up For Nature.

Important Update: Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) adopts the Financial Sustainability Plan

The Disney Project Moves Forward in Mukogodo

ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association committe members listen in to LWF’s Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Margaret Wambua during the Disney Project planning meeting

Spring protection and settlement protection are at the top of the list of actions that the ILMAMUSI Mukogodo Community Forest Association will undertake starting in March 2018.

In a meeting hosted by ILMAMUSI Community Forest Association (CFA), the Project seeks to mitigate the occurrence and frequency of Human-Elephant Conflicts in the area.

The meeting was supported by the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, using funding recently received from world-renowned Disney Conservation Trust through the Wildlife Conservation Society.

ILMAMUSI encompasses four group ranches in Laikipia, (Il Ngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo, and Sieku) was formed to oversee the protection, preservation and management of Mukogodo-a national forest reserve, as mandated by law.

Lontana Spring in Sieku group ranch would be protected first, owing to the number of people who benefit from it.

Arjiju Village, in Makurian group ranch, was proposed for solar fencing.

Committee members of ILMAMUSI Forest Association during the meeting where they agreed to move forward with Disney Project.

Three grazing committees will also be formed with support from the Project. These efforts will focus on improved livestock and better rangelands management.

Josei Saikui, a local resident,  said that the funding would reduce destruction of springs by elephants and contact between elephants and community members. These local-incidents that have become more frequent owing to the on-going dry season and land invasions.

The County Government of Laikipia, represented by Ward Administrator, Mr Tumpes Legei, expressed optimism with the upcoming project. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) also pledged technical support in the implementation, particularly for solar fencing.

The first and second weeks of March 2018 will see individual group ranches to hold meetings for project awareness and selection of committees that would be responsible for the implementation stage.