Stakeholders Can Defend Ecosystems
Mt. Kenya is the primary source of all water in Kenya. That water also generates 60 percent of the nation’s electricity. Unsustainable use of resources in the region threatens the forests and local livelihoods.
Kenya’s forests are the worst of the nations in the region, with only about two percent of the nation under forest cover. Reduction of the forest cover is severely impacting the regional climate and ecosystems.
We are collaborating with regional NGOs, community leaders and others to implement several comprehensive and integrated efforts to promote sustainability in the region. Stakeholders are taking comprehensive action with massive community education to plant new trees, while conserving existing forests.
The Megabridge Foundation will establish several tree nurseries and plant at least one million indigenous and agroforestry seedlings each year. The Foundation and its partners will train locals about agroforestry techniques and deforestation, while motivating them to help with reforestation.
Our goal is to help the rural communities understand the importance of forests and local wildlife. We will explain how our ecosystems are influenced by negative human activities. The communities can help end deforestation, while learning to become more resilient in the face of climate change.
Elsewhere in Kenya, Tsavo East is one of the most ecologically important regions of the world. It’s the largest protected area in Kenya. It occupies about four percent of the country’s landmass and has the highest number of Kenya’s estimated 35,000 elephants.
Tsavo East is the best place in the world to see the great tuskers—bull elephants with enormous ivory. These magnificent animals represent an important gene pool, but they also represent a valuable economic asset to Kenya because of wildlife tourism.
Game is abundant for predators, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and jackals. Scores of hippo and crocodile live in the Galana River. Tsavo East is rich in resident game with more than 95 species recorded and more than 480 species of birds. The local communities have coexisted with wildlife for many years. Both humans and animals utilize the available rangelands, water and salt licks. They are a pastoral community that depends on the natural balance.
The elephant population in the park now stands at 11,696. Although, the 2014 census has just been conducted and its rumored that the number took a big hit from poachers. Plus, elephants here are not confined to the protected park, which often leads to conflict with the local farmers, especially in the conflict areas of Jipe, Rombo, Galana, Kulalu, Dokota, and Taita. Unfortunately, elephants and humans in Tsavo East are coming into contact more frequently because elephant habitat is being settled by families and used for agriculture.
They will plant 3.5 million indigenous trees over a two-year span. They plan to mobilize massive community participation in the establishment of tree nurseries and tree planting during the rainy seasons. The project will also support community-based anti-poaching operations and informer networks within the region that will secure community support for wildlife conservation. YLK is planning to host a Summit to develop some shared sense of priorities that will guide the effective conservation of the Tsavo Conservation Area Ecosystem into the future. The theme of this proposed Summit is ‘The Earth in Our Hands: The Landowners’ Perspectives.’
A Wild-Farm Alliance for Tsavo will be established after the Summit as a coalition for landowners and ecological farming advocates. The coalition’s main role will be to promote sustainable agriculture in Tsavo rangelands to help protect and restore nature.
We also will promote the use of bees as a natural deterrent for crop-raiding elephants, especially in the six main conflict areas. Elephants in the Tsavo East are not confined to the Park, therefore, interactions between local farmers and hungry elephants has resulted in serious problems.
In a study by Oxford University, it has been proven that African elephants will actively avoid African honey bees. Beehive fences have been field tested in three rural farming communities in Kenya with an 85 percent success rate in all locations (King et al., 2011). We plan to spread the tactic to save man and beast.
The fences are simple and affordable. Hives are hung every 10 meters. When an elephant touches one of the hives, or interconnecting wire, the beehives all along the fence line will swing and release the bees. The technique, even using recordings of bees, sounds promising. Not only do elephants run away from disturbed bee sounds, but they emit a unique low frequency rumble that warns other elephants in the area to retreat. The use of protective beehive fences around crops can reduce human-elephant conflicts in the Tsavo area. A total of 50 kilometers of fence will be built for local farmers.
We will involve our local Wildlife Champions and Wildlife Ambassadors in several local conservation activities. Such personal and community recognition will help strengthen and stimulate strong interest in local rangeland conservation and restoration.
We will educate, engage and employ locals to improve conservation of the resources in the region. Local farmers will be taught to use more sustainable practices. ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’ and bee products will be sold to generate income.
Wetlands within Tsavo East, which support up to 50,000 local people, will be restored. Plus, the ecological integrity of Tsavo East will be maintained by linking the protected area through forested corridors for the migration of wildlife.
The implementation of conservation strategies in coastal parts of Kenya, including Watamu and Kwale, are challenging. The area includes several tribal populations, who consider themselves an integral part of the forest ecosystem. Working closely with these communities is critical to success.
Human activities, including agricultural expansion, road construction, urbanization and other developmental activities are major threats to biodiversity and wildlife in the region. According to the Mwangaza Support Group, the most effective way to conserve biodiversity is to prevent further destruction and degradation of habitats in Arabuko and Kwale.
In addition, this project will address the poaching and hunting of endangered species, deforestation and charcoal production. It also will include community education about sustainability, wildlife conservation and watershed protection. The project will establish a registry of flora and fauna and a seed bank that can help promote watershed restoration with native and beneficial plants. It also will expand the capacity of volunteer conservationists in the region.
More than 30,000 students, community forests keepers, loggers, farmers associations, landowners, ranchers and community residents will be engaged to participate in the actual wildlife conservation and habitat restoration activities.
Meanwhile, Earth Keepers Centre of Kenya will start 100 small, local nurseries and plant 500,000-2,000,000 trees per year. It will spread these nurseries and the plantings in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Elsewhere, Ahero and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plan to introduce solar power to 20 villages across Kenya. The power will supply street lighting, schools, community centers, health centers and water supplies.
Not only does solar energy curb deforestation, solar energy has brought about an indisputable positive impact in the lives of community members in the five villages where Ahero’s pilot initiative on solar energy was introduced. Beneficiaries have reported an enormous benefit, especially from streetlights. Streetlight poles have enabled villagers to be engaged in a variety of different activities at night, which were previously performed only during the day. This fact alone has brought a tremendous change in their lifestyle and in the way they manage their daily productivity.
To find out more about these projects and more across east Africa, please visit http://sacredseedlings.com/east-africa-projects/