Sunday, 14 March 2010

What Joined Up Thinking Can Do In Kenya

The idea was to put an electrified fence around the Aberdares Conservation Area.

  • To stop wildlife marauding onto farm land outside the fence
  • To protect the farming communities and their crops that border the fence.
  • To curb illegal log extraction.
  • To promote harmony between wildlife and local farmers.
  • To prevent illegal entry into the Conservation Area.
So why is the Aberdares so important?
  • One in three Kenyan's livelihood is dependent in some way upon the rainfall, rivers, forest and wildlife of the Aberdares - one of the nation's largest mountain ranges
  • Five out of Kenya's seven largest rivers flow north, west, east and south providing hydro power and water to millions of farmers and seven of Kenya's twelve towns.
  • The people of the nation's capital, Nairobi - over 3 million - are entirely dependent on water from the Aberdares
  • Over 30% of the nation's tea production and 70% of its coffee is grown on its foothills and high slopes
  • Over one million farmers living on its lower slopes depend upon its rich soils and rainfall.
  • It is one of the largest indigenous forests in East Africa.
  • Its wildlife is profuse. It is the home of several thousand elephant, and buffalo, forest antelope, leopard, the rare and endangered giant forest hog, the largest known number of the highly endangered mountain bongo and over 270 species of birds
  • It is one of the surviving strongholds of the Black Rhino in a truly wild habitat
  • The Aberdare National Park within the 2,000 square kilometres of the of the Aberdare Conservation Area is one of Kenya 's prime national parks. It is the place where Britain 's Queen Elizabeth stayed on the night she became a monarch
  • Two world renowned game lodges - Treetops and The Ark enable thousands annually to see Black Rhino and hosts of other wild animals in this natural habitat and at very close quarters
The project, a joint venture between the KWS and the Rhino Ark charity is now complete. Farmers with shambas on the edge of the conservation area are very pleased. Elephants and other animals can no longer raid their crops.

The black rhino, the bongo amongst some of the rare breeds of Kenya are protected. Indigenous forest is protected and the water table is protected.

Job done!

Well, no, not quite. There is still a lot to do, not least of which is maintenance, and other expenses like the wardens' salaries, etc. Rhino Ark are building huts for the wardens, and there is a need for small 4x4 vehicles.

But, look at the achievement, almost 400 km of electrified fence erected around a mountain range.

This is what can be done when Kenyans, ordinary Kenyans, not politicians, organise themselves in a worthwhile project.

Now, how about doing the same for the Mau?

For more details of what Rhino Ark and The KWS have achieved, visit the Rhino Ark website.

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