Category Archives: Aberdare Fence

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 ( 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.”


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.

Rhino Ark announces new ‘water tower’ conservation projects: To fence Mt Kenya and Mau Mt Eburru

Colin Church, Chairman of the Rhino Ark Management Committee announced at a press conference at The Stanley Hotel, Nairobi, on December 8th, 2010 that  in addition to its ongoing conservation commitments to the Aberdare Mountains, the conservation charity is to start new fence projects in Mt Kenya and Mau Mt Eburru in 2011.

The Mt Kenya fence will encircle over 2000 km2 and will be at least 400 kms long– equal or possibly longer than the now complete Aberdares fence. It is planned that the work will start on the eastern side of Mt Kenya where communities are keen for Rhino Ark to start fence build. It will require ksh 1 billion to build. The project could be completed within four years subject to a regular fund flow.

 Mau Eburru 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 will require a fence of about 60 kms in length – a little longer than the now completed Mt Kipiriri extra section Rhino Ark undertook in 2008/09.

 Rhino Ark will continue its close partnership with the Government to roll out these projects – working with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). 





Kenya’s President Kibaki accompanied by the Prime Minister Commissions Rhino Ark Fence

The Rhino Ark Aberdare fence is a significant “investment which should be secured and maintained” for the future management of the Aberdares declared Kenya’s President, Mwai Kibaki at the Commissioning ceremony on March 12 at Bondeni, Mweiga.

Accompanied by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Raila Odinga, the President presided over a colourful occasion at which thousands of fence line farmers from all areas of the Aberdares arrived to attend. The site was beside some of the earliest fence line built 21 years ago when Rhino Ark began its Aberdare conservation journey.

President Kibaki said the fence “will enable communities whose livelihoods are dependent upon the Aberdare Mountain range to benefit more from this forest ecosystem. Farmers’ incomes and land value have increased with the construction of this fence”.

The President endorsed the work undertaken by Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and Rhino Ark “in preparation of a management facility to be called the Aberdare Trust Fund: He announced that the fund would be launched next month (April 2010)

President Kibaki specially thanked “those early initiators of Rhino Ark who helped raise funds by creating the now world famous annual Rhino Charge event.”

The President gave the annual Michael Werikhe Award for services to conservation in the Aberdares to the two Kipipiri groups – Kipkiami Cecaffe and Gita – who provided no cost labour to the value of Kshs 0.5 million to build the final 45 km Kipipiri Extra Section last year.

The award is donated by the East African Wildlife Society. The judges are members of Rhino Ark’s Rhino Charge Committee.

The President and Prime Minister were accompanied by the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, Hon Noah Wekesa, MPs Nemeysias Warugongo- Kieni, Clement Muchiri Wambugu, Mathioya, Jeremiah Kioni, Ndaragua – all constituencies bordering the Aberdare fence line.

Mark Glen and Bryn Llewellyn of Car 48 winners of last year’s Rhino Charge attended with Jas Sehmi of Car 12 and who has driven in every Rhino Charge since it began in his 1947 Willis Jeep. The Prime Minister climbed into Car 48 whilst President Kibaki turned the steering wheel of the car.

The President then flicked a switch to finally commission the fence. A flow of 7000 volts by impulse surged through the wire to the acclaim of the onlookers. The President expressed great interest that the fence was performing at full capacity ever since it was erected in 1989.

Two plaques were unveiled by the President – one to commemorate the event and the other with the message:

Our great mountain forests are the ‘water towers’ and the ‘lungs’ of our beloved Kenya. They and the precious flora and fauna within them must be sustainably managed and conserved for all Kenyans and as a global heritage for all time.

Above this inscription a Simbara stone from near the upper moorland of northern Aberdares estimated by a geologist to be over 5 million years old was placed.

The Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Hon Wekesa proposed a permanent commemoration site, arboretum and education centre be established at the site for all Kenyans and overseas visitors enjoy and learn from.

President Kibaki flagged off the Aberdare Fence celebration school relay run started by children from Bondeni Primary School. The relay will see a baton to be carried by children from 77 schools close to the fence line. The baton will run along the entire near 400 km fence during the next few weeks.

Royal Geographical Society, Colin Church lectures on: “ The Aberdare fence – a model for Africa”

The Aberdares came to London recently when an audience of over 500 Fellows and members of the historic Royal Geographical Society heard details of the completion of a major project which now rings the entire Aberdare mountain range in Kenya.

As reported in the Guardian, one of the UK’s leading national newspapers, the Rhino Ark electric fence “has become a model for countries struggling to protect scarce water resources”.

In his hour-long lecture at the Royal Geographical Society, Colin Church, chairman of the Rhino Ark’s Management Committee, said that in the early days of the project “the motivation was to protect the black rhino. Then we all woke up to the fact that the farmers, who lived near the fence, were celebrating. The reality is that this forested mountain area was the lifeblood for millions of people. We realized that the whole ecosystem was at stake.

“Our thinking had to change. The Aberdares are now the most secure ecosystem in the whole of Kenya – and maybe Africa. Now all wildlife and precious fauna in the Aberdares are better able to flourish”.

The project has started to attract serious international interest and          renowned travel writer Brian Jackman, in an article in the Sunday    Telegraph, referred to the completion of “the massive task of ring-  fencing” the Aberdares – as a major sign that Kenya was determined to    combat poachers. A two-page feature on the Aberdares, published in    the current edition of African Business, wrote about the close  collaboration between the Rhino Ark and the Kenya Wildlife Service –    for the building, management and future maintenance of the fence.

The strong historic connection between the Aberdares and UK was  emphasised by the presence of Lord Aberdare at the Royal Geographical Society. In 1884, the Aberdares were named after his great, great grandfather – then President of the Society.

Elephant corridor complete – an ecosystem first


Resolution of alignment issues that focused on the elephant/ wildlife corridor between Mt Kipipiri and the main Aberdares range was essential prior to completion of the entire fence.   KFS, KWS, the fence edge communities in the area and Rhino Ark were able to reach an agreement after protractive discussions took place to resolve the core issues.

Certain aspects were not in  dispute. The principal of the need for a corridor had been reached in 2008.  The fence line edge communities were in full agreement that a corridor should form part of the overall environment plan for the Kipipiri/Satima land linking the two at Geta.   The KFS challenged the expert’s proposal for optimum width of the corridor as recommended by the wildlife consultant commissioned by RA/KWS and KFS.  

Final agreement was reached in July 2009 whereby the funnels into the corridor are within the parameters of the professional view but in one very short stretch a width of 700 meters was finally agreed.  The average width into the final funnel areas from the west and eastern approaches is about 900 meters.  Thus areas of exotic softwood timber plantations remain outside the fence on each side acting as buffers and retained for soft wood re-plant

The 7.5 and 5.5 kms borders of the corridor were the final section of the great Aberdare fence to be constructed. Inside the corridor the policy of indigenous tree re-stocking will apply and local communities will play a part in this exercise

The Kipipiri corridor is the first formal wildlife dispersal to be installed within the greater Mountains Conservation Area of Aberdares and Mt Kenya.   It is Rhino Ark policy to develop further such dispersals linking the Mountains with Laikipia and the northern rangelands.

Kipipiri corridor alignment resolved

Rhino Ark can now confirm that following protracted discussions between Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and Rhino Ark, the alignment for the wildlife corridor within the gazetted forest area linking the main Aberdare range with Mount Kipipiri has now been agreed.

This will enable work to start immediately on the final fencing of the corridor.    

There remains just 13 kms of fencing to construct mainly along the sides of the corridor and its approaches after which the Mount Kipipiri Extra Section of the Rhino Ark Aberdare Fence will be complete.  

Completion date is scheduled for September 2009.

Once complete the entire near 400 kms of the Aberdare Fence encircling 2000 km2 of water catchment, indigenous forest and mountain upland will be finished.

Rhino Ark is committed to ensure the Aberdare ecosystem remains stabilized and will continue to work to reduce all unsustainable and illegal activities of all kinds within the ecosystem.

Work progresses on the formation of management and legal framework for the formation of a Trust comprising senior level representation of Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, and Rhino Ark and with fence line border farmer community representation.