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Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership : Watchdog on Pollution Crimes

Pollution crimes have long endangered the health and safety of our livelihoods on a daily basis. Illegally dumped waste contaminates the soil where food is grown, toxic materials leach into water supplies, and even the air we breathe gets contaminated by environmental polluters.

Illegally dumping of hazardous materials is an easy alternative for polluters, due to the considerable cost of responsible waste disposal.

As a result, precious ecosystems have been left vulnerable, people get sick, wildlife dies, and livelihoods and our economy are threatened.

Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership works with County and Regional Agencies in our member counties to detect and eliminate cases of river pollutions.

One of our regional horticulture farms was found dumping illegal kitchen cooking oil waste in the Nanyuki sewage treatment ponds, killing multiple species of aquatic birds.

In another example, MKEWP has been following up on cases of pollution from whistle blowers on the Likii River. After several warnings given to a farmer who had been polluting the River, action had to be taken.

On 15th May 2020, MKEWP collaborated with the department of Public Health to enforce the public health law. The polluting farmer operates his dairy farm a few meters away from the river. However, all the waste water from that farm is directed to the river, thus creating a health hazard for downstream communities who rely on it. The farmer was arrested and is to be arraigned in court in June to answer for charges of releasing raw waste/waste water into the river.

MKEWP promotes best management practices at farm levels as ways to manage your land and promotes activities to mitigate pollution of surface and groundwater near you. This is another WRUA service.

These practices are usually simple and low-tech. The can benefit your household and land in many ways. Some examples of agricultural best practices include safe management of animal waste, controlling pesticide and fertilizer use, contour farming, crop rotation, and vegetative buffers near rivers, and water storage, conservation and management.

Want to know more about the pollution, pollution law, and best practices? Contact your MKEWP representative susan.gathoni@laikipia.org or Laikipia Forum at communications@laikipia.org

Maji Yetu ni Jukumu Letu

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Ilmamusi Mukogodo Community Forest Association Growing Stronger!

On May 15th 2020, Ilmamusi hosted a team of Kenya Forest Service senior officials that included the Chairperson of KFS, Mr. Peter Kinyua; Chief Conservator of Forests in Kenya, Mr. Julius Kamau; and Ecosystem Conservator, Mr. Samuel Mukundi, among others. The team, along with FAO representatives met at Nadungoro area of Mukogodo Forest. Ilmamusi was supported and represented at the meeting by long-term partners Laikipia Forum, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Borana Conservancy, and Northern Rangelands Trust.

Community Forest Associations play a pivotal role in conservation and sustainable management of forest resources in Kenya. The CFAs’ function complements the work of Kenya Forest Service.

With all  the good intentions, many CFAs remain weak in the areas of governance and financing.  Ilmamusi is no different. Despite these challenges, they  have been actively engaged in conservation of Mukogodo Forest Reserve for a period spanning over 13 years.

During the meeting, the Ilmamusi Board members were taken through Community Forest Association structure and compliance requirements,  as prescribed in the Forest Management and Conservation Act 2016.

The Chief Conservator of Forests appreciated the work done by Ilmamusi CFA in conserving Mukogodo Forest, and encouraged them to continue working closely with the communities surrounding the forest in the four group ranches (Makurian, Il Ngwesi, Kurikuri and Lekurruki). Josyline Thambu of the Kenya Forest Service, was superb in her presentation.

Board members present had plenty of questions on some of the elements of the new Act given that Ilmamusi was established under the old Forest Act of 2005.

The team came up with a plan of action for Ilmamusi CFA to be fully compliant with Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, as they finalize the constitution review process currently ongoing under FAO funding.

The KFS team will be back in June to review the final draft of the Ilmamusi CFA constitution, and to endorse its adoption by group ranches.

Mukogodo is Laikipia’s largest national forest reserve, and is a designated water tower. It’s conservation is considered a priority for biodiversity, indigenous culture, and wildlife corridors.

This process is being supported by FAO through the GEF-6 Restoration of Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Kenya through Bio-enterprise Development and Other Incentives

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Oramat Lenaboisho: The Cooperative Society Advocates For A Commercial Community Approach To Livestock Management

Oramat Lenaboisho is a steadily growing community partnership society that continues to help its members realize the importance of owning well-managed livestock and the benefits that come with it.

Oramat  has been strongly advocating for the importance of rangelands management, rehabilitations and restorations and lobbies for the engagement of women and the youth in the ownership and management of the livestock husbandry -to – livestock  markets model.

Through these efforts, the Society has been able to acquire a membership of about 150 to help realize its goals. Our aim is to continue to build pastoralist communities that own and manage sustainable, community-owned,  and culturally appropriate projects.

The Society is working to scale up its operations . We work with members to help them shift their thinking to move from a prestigious way of keeping livestock to a more commercial approach that brings good returns. To achieve this, OLCS partnered with the county government and acquired a 2 million Kenyan shillings loan that has been invested in the purchase of cows. This amount was channeled towards buying steers, fattening them and then to sell them at a profit.

The continuous buying, fattening and selling of the steers works to ensure the viability of this cooperative society; and we have repaid the loan, and applied for a bigger one! Stay tuned for our PHASE 2 and stories to come?

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The Locust Invasion Persists

Locusts: “A swarm of just more than a third of a square mile can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people”

 The UN has warned that the devastation at the beginning of the year that occurred in more than 20 counties in Kenya – where over 70,000 hectares of vegetation were destroyed by the pest – could be multiplied by 20 times by a second wave brought about by recent rains which favor locust proliferation.

In Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, widespread breeding is in progress and new swarms have formed and are starting to lay eggs in a new cycle of reproduction, representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods. Desert Locust are voracious eaters that target both food crops as well as the vegetation and pastures that pastoralists in East Africa depend on.

Right now, all of the swarms are impacting areas north of Laikipia.

Laikipia Landscape

Virginia Wahome, Director of Cooperation on Peace and Development, is leading the regional pest control campaign in Laikipia County.

“Laikipia recorded the first desert locust sightings in January, inside Il Ng’wesi Conservancy, and we have remained on the ground to track them since,” Ms. Wahome says.

Intensified aerial and ground surveil-lance have since traced the pests to Lolldaiga, Ole Naishu, Nanyuki, and Ngobit. In the west the desert locusts have invaded Mwenje, Njorua, Kinamba, Mahianyu, Oljabet, Rumuruti, Mutara, Kifuko among other areas.

The pest control campaign has bought together multi-agency teams from the FAO, national and county governments, the military, the National Youth Service, development partners and the private sector, including our Laikipia Farmers Association.

The surveillance and spraying operations for the region are organized from the Isiolo coordination center. So far, 240 thousand hectares of land in the affected countries have been treated with insecticides, and 740 personnel trained on deserts locust control since January 2020.

Ground monitoring teams conduct extensive surveys of terrain, collecting information on the state of the habitat and locust populations. This information is used for planning anti-locust controls and making decisions regarding preventive treatments. Reports are regularly filed using WhatsApp groups and GPS coordinates.

 

Threat to food security

Already 3.1 million Kenyans are projected to be highly food insecure between August and October 2020. Agro-pastoral communities in the North are particularly vulnerable and are just recovering from a long drought, followed by floods. So far, approximately 70,000 hectares of land have already been infested.

Role of climate change
Climate change has played a big role in creating a conducive environment for Desert Locusts to thrive. Last year, Kenya experienced a lot of rain, with a number of flooding in the last quarter of the year. This made the sandy soil in Arid and Semi-arid (ASAL) areas moist, which is perfect condition for the female migratory pests to lay their eggs.

In the last three years, there was an increase in the frequency of cyclones in the Indian Ocean that played a role in breeding this upsurge. In 2018, two cyclones dumped heavy rain on the uninhabited portion of the Arabian Peninsula known as “The Empty Quarter,” an area where locusts can breed and reproduce freely.

Use of pesticides
These migratory pests use wind to move and are able to cover up to 150 kilometers in one day. Aerial and ground spraying is ongoing, with plans to set up and equip four additional Desert Locust control centers.

Presently, the primary method of controlling Desert Locust swarms and hopper bands is with the use of organophosphate chemicals applied in small concentrated doses (referred to as ultra-low volume (ULV) formulation) by vehicle-mounted and aerial sprayers, and to a lesser extent, by knapsack and hand-held sprayers.

CAUTION

Organophosphate insecticides (such as diazinon) are one type of pesticide that works by damaging an enzyme in the body called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme is critical for controlling nerve signals in the body. The damage to this enzyme kills pests and may cause unwanted side effects in exposed humans, livestock, and wildlife.

For more about Laikipia’s locust control efforts please see the County’s bulletin from May 2020.

https://laikipia.go.ke/resource/the-official-newsletter-for-the-county-government-of-laikipia-10-may-2020

Also see here about the locust hunters in Kenya

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WildClass

 

WildClass is an initiative of the Laikipia Forum and the Laikipia Association of Conservation Educators (LACE).

A consortium of conservation educators in the Laikipia Landscape wants Kenyans to know of the great resources we have here for both on-line/virtual and field trip conservation education.

Our LACE members include the Mpala Research Center/MpalaLive! The Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, Ol Jogi Conservancy, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the Northern Kenya Conservation Clubs, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Mount Kenya Trust, Loisaba Conservancy, and The William Holden Conservation Education Center.

Each of these locations offers educational materials and opportunities.

Some of the most recent examples of the services offered here include:

 

Mpala Kids Corner:

You Can Be an Entomologist!

In honor of World Environment Day, Mpala will host a special reading and chat with our own Executive Director Dr. Dino J. Martins. Sharing his children’s book on entomology, Dr. Martins will engage kids of all ages on what it means to explore the world around us.

June 5, 2020

10:00 AM EDT / 5:00 PM EAT

Save the date!

Stay tuned for more virtual events from Mpala, including topics of virology and vaccines, entomology in the news, cutting-edge genomics research, and more Kids Corner events, including:

  • June 25, 2020 – Kids Field Trip
  • July 16, 2020 – Our Friends the Pollinators

And check out the opportunities for real-time and distance learning about conservation on Ol Pejeta Conservancy and link. There are many ways to learn and to help.

https://www.olpejetaconservancy.org/ten-ways-to-help/

Keep informed! Stay Engaged!

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COVID 19 : Nature, Conservation and the Pandemic – Guest opinion

Even amid the Covid-19 pandemic, wildlife roam free in their protected grounds, and in our imaginations. We can picture an elephant herd at a water hole, lion cubs tussling in tall grass. A nature-loving global public cherish such scenes, and in 2018 wildlife tourism directly contributed US$ 120.1 billion to helping grow the economies of many nations.

But with Covid-19, tourists everywhere have canceled their plans and the tourism industry has crashed to a halt. Some African parks have closed. Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo has barred visitors until June 1—in part to protect its endangered mountain gorillas from possible exposure to Covid-19. It may be years, rather than months, before ecotourism reclaims its role in economic development.

This is bad news for wildlife and local communities that depend on income generated by the parks from tourism. It also brings us face-to-face with a reality we must confront: If we want to conserve nature, we must share the cost of conservation.

To protect people’s welfare and wildlife, we must develop a system that provides adequate financial support to poorer countries for conserving the biodiversity that benefits us all. Such a system is long overdue, for although the benefits of biodiversity and natural areas are universal, the costs of protection are high and disproportionally borne by the poor communities living with wildlife.

The global benefits of conservation have been well documented. The mere existence of species-rich landscapes provides the public opportunities to visit these amazing sites. Vast quantities of carbon stored in trees and soils act as a hedge against climate change. Existing and potential use of natural products for medicinal purposes are huge. Further, wild species, from the largest to the microscopic, interact in ways that maintain delicate-running natural cycles—whether the provision of fresh water or fertile soil—that make Planet Earth habitable for humans.

Of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, fifteen are developing countries, with some among the world’s least developed nations. Parks are generally underfunded, resulting in insufficient funds to support communities living closest to nature. As a result, communities often pursue land use practices that provide for their immediate needs, but which may undermine wildlife conservation.

For example, in Africa’s Congo Basin, the second largest rainforest in the world, the biggest driver of deforestation is the activities of small-scale farmers.

In contrast, when local communities have enough support, they look after land and its species. This is apparent in Kenya’s Tana River Delta area. Through “The Restoration Initiative,” more than 100 local communities, development partners and the government have collaborated to map sustainable land uses, restore degraded forests, conserve endangered species such as the Tana River Red Colobus monkey, and develop nature-based enterprises such as fish farming and bee keeping. In 2019, the community established the 116,000-hectare Tana Delta Indigenous and Community Conservation Area with the government assisting in financing its management.

If the international community is serious about conserving biodiversity as part of a just and sustainable world, we must get serious about funding conservation. Projects such as The Restoration Initiative show what is possible when adequate funding is available.

Some may say that the conservation of nature is the responsibility of individual countries. That is true, but only part of the picture. Given that such biodiversity provides benefits beyond these countries, and that not all countries can meet the costs of its conservation, it is in the interests of the world to share in the costs.

These costs are substantial. A McKinsey study estimates that current government and philanthropic funding for conservation would have to at least double to reach US$ 100 billion a year, and investable cash flows from conservation projects would need to be up to 30 times greater than today, reaching US$ 200-300 billion per year, to meet the global need for conservation funding.

Such funds could come from a variety of sources, and ultimately form a new class of financial asset, ripe for sustainable investment.

Success would depend on investments that simultaneously reinforce the impact of conservation; providing capital preservation and/or returns on investments and generating cashflows through sustainable use of nature by local communities.

As the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic and undertakes the unprecedented task of repairing and stimulating national economies, such investments could prove game-changing for people and nature in many poor countries that are nonetheless rich in biodiversity.

Our leaders in government, finance, business, and philanthropy need to step up and invest in making the planet a ‘safe operating environment’ for all of its occupants, or suffer the consequences of escalating decline.

Johan Robinson, Chief of the Global Environment Facility Biodiversity and Land Degradation Unit at UN Environment, argues for the need for a system that provides adequate financial support to all countries for conserving the biodiversity that benefits us all – but particularly those countries with the biggest burden.

 

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A Big Boost for Ngusishi WRUA

Ngusishi WRUA has continuously demonstrated the viability of the WRUA concept. The good relationship between the community, stakeholders and the government has enabled the WRUA get help for water development projects.

In February 2020, with the assistance of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP), Ngusishi WRUA was introduced to a funding competition sponsored by Davis and Shirtliff that targeted funding for 23 water-related projects across the country.

The WRUA was able to seize this opportunity to help their members. They did a proposal to refurbish an existing borehole called the Mt. Kenya Borehole and successfully secured ksh 1.1 million from the Company.

Mr. Mureithi Muthuri ,the Chair of Ngusishi WRUA, was elated as he shared how they were able to secure funds from Davis and Shirtliff to refurbish the Mt. Kenya Borehole.

Mr. Murithi stated that, “One of the reasons why the WRUA continues to be the best in the country, and in the region, is its well-structured governance and outreach policies. These give priority to the vulnerable members and Institutions within the catchment. Securing this funding is a great milestone for my WRUA especially in the midst of this COVID 19 crisis.

Once the project is complete people will be able to get water very easily and maintain good hygiene that will help kick the Corona  virus out of the area. The County Government of Meru has accepted to top-up the remaining balance and soon we will be launching the project. MKEWP has been of great assistance, and we would be honored to have them attend the Project launch.”

The newly operational borehole will support 300 registered members and a potential of over 1000 beneficiaries. The award will fund solar panels at this borehole.

Mr. George, from Davis and Shirtliff, Meru County, highlighted that “Ngusishi WRUA approached their office branch in Meru asking for help to refurbish the borehole at Buuri. We assessed the borehole and saw the massive community impact it has. The borehole serves more than a thousand people and has the capacity to impact the economy and livelihoods of the people in that area.

The original Project was originally powered by Kenya Power and accrued huge bills that were burdensome to the community. The WRUA requested our help to install solar pumps and applied for a Davis and Shirtliff grant offered through our competition. We could only fund this project with 28% of the costs. The WRUA will have to cater for the remaining 72% of the total costs.

“It was impressive to see the massive effort the WRUA exerted in approaching various donors to leverage the extra funds. They approached the Deputy Governor of Meru, the Buuri Member of Parliament, and neighboring flower farms. Luckily the County Government of Meru has promised to fund them, and once all the arrangements are complete, the project will be launched,” added Mr. George.

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Poisoning Animals Not a Solution to Predator Conflicts

Poisoned Vultures in Northern Laikipia, victims of the latest carcass poisoning

A few weeks ago three camels were killed by lions in Northern Laikipia, Kenya. We knew the situation was dire and unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis meant that most of our team were scattered across the country and unable to urgently attend the scene due to travel restrictions.

The following day while our team was at the affected community we received a report about eight dead vultures. A team from Ol Maisor Ranch and the Coexistence Co-op went to the area where they discovered a grisly poisoning scene consisting of one jackal, one Hooded Vulture, seven Ruppell’s Vulture, and 11 Tawny Eagles.

They took photographs and buried the carcasses to prevent further poisonings as they had been trained to do. The following morning they returned and discovered another dead jackal and one more Ruppell’s Vulture. The carcasses were burnt and no lions were killed.

While this retaliatory poisoning was highly unfortunate it is important to understand the extent of predator conflict this community has endured in recent months. Over a period of three days in late December, this community lost 10 cows and 1 camel to lions, as well as 1 sheep to a leopard. The affected households showed the utmost restraint by not retaliating against the predators. We also attribute this to the support of a key leader within the community.

It is also important to note that our Coexistence Training team has trained three groups from this community about poisoning awareness and how to build predator-proof bomas. Individual households have since built approximately 20 predator-proof bomas. Our joint team of Lion Rangers and Coexistence Trainers provide on-going support, awareness, advice on fortifying the bomas and assistance with reporting to KWS.

While this event was extremely unfortunate it emphasizes how programmes like the Coexistence Co-op – a partnership between The Peregrine Fund and Lion Landscapes – are extremely important to help communities prevent and mitigate human-wildlife conflict as well as to understand the risks of retaliatory poisoning for both humans and wildlife.

We thank Alex Nawoi, Ol Maisor Ranch, Ezekiel Sikuku for their professional response to the incident.

The Peregrine Fund Lion Landscapes Kenya Wildlife Service
#vultures #stoppoisoning #savescavengers #lions #coexistence #laikipia#saveconservation

 

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Coexistence Co-op

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Ol Pejeta Conservancy Calls For Creativity to Support Conservation : Art of Survival Competition

If you are between the ages of 5 and 18, an aspiring artist and looking for a project to sink your teeth into as well as do good for conservation in this time of international crisis; then this is for you!

Ol Pejeta Conservancy has rolled out a children’s competition dubbed The Art of Survival that is currently ongoing and will run until the end of July 2020. This competition is spearheaded by the conservancy with support from David Shephard Wildlife Foundation through their Art of Survival program.  Children across the world are being called upon to take part in this global competition to raise money for wildlife and the environment.

Through artwork or in written form, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is asking applicants to create pieces that contemplate extinction or the role of humans in living more sustainably on our planet.

The winners of this completion will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Kenya with their family.

For more information on the Art of Survival Competition and the Terms and Conditions on how to apply click here

To apply directly for this completion through the Ol Pejeta Website click here

 

 

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Laikipia Forest Conservation In The Midst of COVID-19

Elephants at the edge the Mukogodo Forest

April has been a low-key month for the Ilmamusi Mukogodo Forest Association. Most activities have been halted due to COVID -19.

Community members living around the forest have formed a cooperative society known as Dupoto Beekeepers. They were recently supplied with 140 modern bee-hives by World Vision under Integrated Management of Natural Resources for Resilience in Arid and Semi-arid Land Project. This took place in the first week of April 2020. The target beneficiaries are 7 user groups who are practicing beekeeping. They have a total membership of 120 people. A team of local trainers will build the capacity of the beekeepers.

We disseminate information regarding COVID -19, encouraging people to stay safe and adopt the public information messages. The staff of Ilmamusi CFA have continuously shared relevant information using their social media and outreach regarding Coranavirus. The 12 community rangers (who are drawn from the 4 corners of the forest landscape) are helping share information with their respective villages.

The community feedback is relayed back using the social media forum. However, sensitization has been on a small scale and mainly confined to areas with higher population concentrations. The CFA is also working with local administration to ensure that poor and vulnerable people in our Mukogodo communities get assistance from the National and County Governments,  especially with food supply.

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