Author Archives: rhinoark

Mau Eburu Forest

Wanton destuction of indigenous forest

Wanton destuction of indigenous forest

8,715 hectares (87 square kms) of prime indigenous forest nestled in the folds of a 2,820 metre high active volcanic mountain overlooking Lake Naivasha. It is a fragile little island of biodiversity in a vast sea of mostly indifferent and often times destructive humanity.

It is effectively UNGUARDED. VULNERABLE. MUCH EXPLOITED.

It is the home to perhaps 12 of the fewer than 100 surviving wild population of critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo antelope worldwide.
Unless we act quickly, a terrible fate awaits this precious ecosystem. Rhino Ark is spearheading the fencing of this forest, in partnership with the Government.

Join us in this quest.

MAU EBURU FENCE CONSTRUCTION TO START IN EARLY 2012

stakeholders attending meeting at Ndabibi

stakeholders attending meeting at Ndabibi

Construction of the Mau Eburu fence will start in the 1st quarter of the year 2012.

Funding totaling to Kshs 42.6million has already been secured. Within this figure, materials valued at Kshs 30million have been provided by the Kenyan Government and are to be dispersed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The balance of funds secured to date are from donations to Rhino Ark including a Ksh 4.6million tranche provided by Finlays, the agribusiness with tea estates and flower farms in Naivasha and bordering the Mau Forest Complex and from Rhino Ark’s Rhino Charge.

Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting at Ndabibi in Eburu on 23 November 2011, Rhino Ark Management Committee Chairman Colin Church said, “Rhino Ark’s commitment to fence Mau Eburu has attracted considerable interest from donors. I am confident this interest will translate into further direct support. It will enable us not only to complete the electrified fence quickly but also to create an enabling environment for conservation initiatives, re forestation and a full range socio/economic partnership benefits for Eburu’s forest adjacent communities”.

Co-ordination of the project has been led by the Ministry of Forests and Wildlife and with the full support of the Interim Co-coordinating Secretariat for the Mau Complex (ICS), the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

The Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG), a member body of the East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS), Save the Mau Fund and other conservation bodies are actively involved.

Mau Eburu forms part of the Rift Valley conservation and ecology ecosystem stretching from Nakuru, Lake Nakuru National Park, the Soysambu Conservancy, Lake Naivasha, to Longonot and Hells Gate National Parks.

Mau Eburu is about 80 km2 of pristine forest – hugely infiltrated by illegal loggers but whose forest edge communities are already trying to conserve its water catchment and indigenous forest. It is also a stronghold of the critically endangered Eastern Mountain Bongo antelope.

Mau Eburu will require a fence of about 50 kms in length – a little longer than the now completed Mt Kipipiri section Rhino Ark undertook in 2008/09. It will cost Kshs 100 million to build.

Community Conservation: Local School Learns About Bongo Antelope

Kariki Primary School in Ndaragwa, Nyeri County, is one of the local schools that is near the Rhino Ark Aberdare electric fence. On 7 October, the school received educational posters and brochures from Rhino Ark about conservation of the Eastern Mountain Bongo antelope. The posters, produced by Rhino Ark, will help the students learn more about this critically endangered animal, which is found in the forests near the school: less than 100 are left in the wild, all in Kenya.

Kariki school receives posters from Rhino Ark
Kariki school receives posters from Rhino Ark

Aberdare Fence Assessment Report Launched

from left: Emilio Mugo (KFS), Charles Musyoki (KWS), Achim Steiner (UNEP) and Colin Church (Rhino Ark)

from left: Emilio Mugo (KFS), Charles Musyoki (KWS), Achim Steiner (UNEP) and Colin Church (Rhino Ark)

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP and Colin Church, Chairman, Rhino Ark Management Committee today launched The Environmental, Social and Economic Assessment of the Fencing of the Aberdare Conservation Area at UNEP Headquarters in Gigiri.

This independent study confirms that the fence has has improved the livelihoods of millions of people in central Kenya. It also attributes improved forest cover, safer living conditions for local communities and greater security for wildlife to the fence, which was completed in 2009 after 20 years of construction.

The study was requested by Rhino Ark  pioneers of the fence project, with funding support from thousands of Kenyans and friends of Kenya overseas.  The study was co-funded by UNEP, Rhino Ark and Kenya Forests Working Group and supported by the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Kenya Forest Service and the Greenbelt Movement.

The study affirms that the fence has proved a prime management tool in the process of both conservation integrity and ensuring better incomes for all – fence edge farmers, as well as the national and global interests that are derived from the Aberdares as a prime water, forest and biodiversity hot spot. It shows that the Aberdares is offering a management and policy blue print for the precious ‘water towers’ of Kenya and other tropical mountain ecosystems and upon which so much human resource is increasingly dependent.

Among the study’s key findings are:

  • A 20.6% increase in forest cover between 2005 and 2010
  • A 54% decrease in open areas (grassland and cultivation inside the now fenced 2000 km² Aberdare Conservation Area
  • A 47 % increase in exotic plantations outside the fenced area

The comprehensive study included a detailed economic valuation of the Aberdare Conservation Area. Highlights of this valuation are:

  • Annual carbon sequestration and soil erosion control –  KES 1.9 billion (US$ 20.3 million)
  • Annual Carbon credits value  – KES 450 million (US$ 5 million)
  • Total products and services values are put at KES 39.3 billion (US$ 420 million) and biodiversity at KES 20 billion (US$ 214 million) – an overall total of KES 59.3 billion (US$ 633 million).

A summary of the report will be available on the Rhino Ark website (www.rhinoark.org) shortly.

Schoolkids Complete 400km Aberdare Run

Talau Primary School Pupils Running their Section

Talau Primary School Pupils Running their Section

Over 800 school children participated in the just completed 2-week long 400 kilometre 2nd annual Aberdare Fence Relay Run. The event is organized by Rhino Ark and Kenya Wildlife Service to raise awareness of the Aberdare Fence project and conservation of the Aberdare ecosystem protected by the fence.

Olympic Marathon Champion runner Tegla Loroupe flagged off the run on 14 June 2011 at Bondeni, Mweiga and handed over the Relay Baton to the first of the 88 participating schools. Schools along the boundary of the nearly 400km long Aberdare fence eagerly participated in the run, with each providing ten pupils and one teacher. Pupils were selected by their schools on merit, either academic or sporting, and this added competitive spice to their participation.

The Run Baton was carried by each school team from its own school, over several kilometres of the often hilly Aberdare terrain and presented to the next participating school. Over the next two weeks, the schoolchildren ran, counterclockwise along the fence, over hills, valleys and mighty rivers, often within sight the forest and wildlife safe behind the fence. By 30 June, they had completed a massive loop that encircled the 2,0002 km ecosystem. Rhino Ark’s Eric Kihiu and Kenya Wildlife Service Aberdare Education Officer Joyce Kurui received the Relay Baton from the final school, Amboni Secondary, at the fence line in Bondeni Mweiga.

eric gets baton_kate

Run Baton Handed Over at Finish

The Fence Run, now in its 2nd year was received positively by the local communities, and the schoolchildren are looking forward to next year’s event. Caroline Wangui, a Class 8 Pupil at Talau Primary was among the pupils who took part in the run. Speaking to Rhino Ark afterwards she said, “If there was no fence, the whole forest would be destroyed, we would have no food and would still live in fear of being attacked by wild animals when going to school or the market. The fence has taught me that if we come together, we can achieve great things – we can take care of our environment for the benefit of all of us.”

SAFARICOM FUNDED GRIDS KEEP JUMBOS AT BAY

Les Baillie inspects Kipipiri Grid

Les Baillie inspects Kipipiri Grid

A ceremony to commission two newly completed elephant grids at the Kipipiri elephant corridor and one at Kieni forest was held on 23 June 2011 at Geta in Kipipiri area. The grids have been fully funded by Safaricom Foundation at a total cost of Kshs. 4.6 million.

Les Baillie, Safaricom Foundation Chairman, formally commissioned the grids at the colourful ceremony that was attended by members of the local community. Partners Rhino Ark, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service were well represented at the event.

The grids are metal and concrete structures built on the ground at the point where the Aberdare electric fence intersects public access roads that traverse the forest. At this intersection is a gap spanning the width of the road through which wildlife such as elephant and buffalo can pass. The innovative design of the grids incorporates rolling bars with gaps between them. They are highly effective in keeping the wildlife at bay, while allowing passage of vehicular and human traffic. The grids are an example of the safe, win-win type solutions that are characteristic of the Aberdare Fence Project.

“Elephant – indeed all wildlife use the corridor linking the main Aberdare range with Mt. Kipipiri. It passes through gazetted forest land but close to hundreds of fence adjacent farmers’ land,” explained Colin Church, Chairman of Rhino Ark at the commissioning ceremony as he thanked Safaricom Foundation for their generous support.

Safaricom Foundation has been a consistent supporter Rhino Ark’s conservation initiatives in the Aberdare ecosystem with almost Kshs.10 million donated to date.

400km Aberdare Fence Relay Run Begins

Tegla Loroupe Flaggs of Run

Tegla Loroupe Flaggs off Run

Over 25,000 fence line families were involved in the second annual Aberdare Schools Relay organized by Rhino Ark and KWS as a joint awareness venture.

Eighty eight schools – all within a close distance of the Aberdare fence line will participate in the relay run.

Staged from 14th June 2011, teams of 10 will run carrying the Run Baton which started at Bondeni and present it to the nearest next school.

Bondeni Primary School – the nearest to the site where President Kibaki commissioned the Rhino Ark fence near Mweiga started the run. It will follow the fence line southwards, eastwards, to the west and finally north ending at Amboni Secondary School back in Mweiga.

Olympic Champion runner Tegla Loroupe flagged off the run. Loroupe holds the women’s world running records for 20, 25 and 30 kilometres and previously held the women’s world marathon record.

Mau Degradation Exposes Makalia River

By Eric Kihiu
Makalia Falls, Easter 2011

Makalia Falls, Easter 2011

The Makalia River rises in the Mau, and is a key source of water for Lake Nakuru. Presently, the river has dried up and no water flows. The Makalia Falls in Lake Nakuru National Park is, usually, a scenic site where the roar of rushing water provides accompaniment to birdsong and the occasional impala grunt or baboon bark. It is now eerily quiet, and provokes the question: just how much damage has been done to the Mau ecosystem to occasion the drying up of once perennial rivers?

Makalia River - riverbed exposed

Makalia River - riverbed exposed

Greensteds School Gets Bongo Posters

Greensteds Staff and pupils receive posters from Rhino Ark

Greensteds Staff and pupils receive posters from Rhino Ark

Greensteds International School, based in Nakuru, is the most recent recipient of educational posters and brochures about the Eastern Mountain Bongo antelope. The materials were donated by Rhino Ark in recognition of Greensteds’ interest in supporting the conservation of Eburu Forest. Mt. Eburu is part of the Mau mountain range and, in the words of teacher Nick Martyn, “is in our own backyard”.

Greensteds are supporters of Rhino Ark, and they sponsored a Control in the 2010 Rhino Charge event. On 26th February 2011, students and staff of Greensteds held a successful relay run from Narok to Nakuru via the Mau to raise funds for sponsorship of a Control in the upcoming 2011 Rhino Charge.

The bongo posters and brochures were developed by Rhino Ark as educational tools under the Schools Wildlife Clubs component of the Bongo Surveillance Programme. They will help to educate Greensteds students about the critically endangered mountain bongo. Globally, there are less than 100 bongo believed to exist in the wild, and they are only found in Kenya. A small, highly threatened population of 7-12 animals has recently been observed in Eburu Forest, and this herd is believed to be the only one left there.

The poster and brochure donation marks the start of a more direct engagement in Rhino Ark’s conservation activities by the Greensteds community. The posters were presented by Rhino Ark Resource Development Manager Eric Kihiu, accompanied by Bongo Surveillance Programme Schools Wildlife Clubs coordinator, Peter Munene.

QUATTRO CHARGE 2011 RAISES KSHS 1,653,313- IAN DUNCAN WINS

Rhino Charger and rally ace Ian Duncan beat 29 other drivers to emerge the winner at the Quattro Charge held on 27th March 2011 in Lukenya Hills.

This is the third time he has won Quattro Charges. Ian completed all the 17 tasks by losing a mere 50 points ahead of first time Quattro Charge entrant and 2010 Rhino Charge winner Sean Avery with 160 points down.

jas on rock

Crowd favourite Jas Sehmi powered through the rocks and boulders in his now famous jeep amidst cheers from over 1500 spectators who turned up at the event.

car 15

A total of Kshs 1,653,313 was raised. Rob Collinge, former three time winner of Rhino Charge and organizer of Quattro Charge announced that 19 Rhino Charge 2011 entrants competed and that some of the Kshs 1.65million would go towards their respective fund raise pledges for 2011. The Rhino Charge entrants are:

Quattro Charge Car no. Competitor Rhino Charge Car no. Points lost Final Postion
2 Ian Duncan 2 30 1
21 Sean Avery 38 160 2
3 Gurmeet Mehta 3 1120 4
7 Asit Patel 26 1260 5
40 Mahesh Bhatti 7 1285 6
28 Sandev Choda 24 1325 7
16 Dipak Halai 16 1640 8
27 Teeku Patel 25 1790 9
12 Jaswaran Singh 12 1810 10
31 Jacques Nell 31 3145 11
37 John Kanyali 37 4125 13
6 Amit Sharma 6 5935 15
10 Douglas Briller 42 6580 16
5 Dominic Rebello 41 6670 17
22 Mike Diesbecq 1 7080 19
23 Alexander Hopcraft 45 9125 20
14 Caroline Armstrong 18 9200 21
18 Arbi Mussani 20 10615 22
8 Harveet Singh 56 12305 23