It’s that time again when we tag our friends/colleagues along to interact with nature, brave the elements, test our fitness, and compete for the title of ‘Forest Champion’, all for the noble cause of raising funds for the rehabilitation and restoration of key water catchment forests in Kenya.
Here are a few hacks to make sure you’re maximizing fun and minimizing impact during your #Forest Challenge Experience:
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
- Your e-ticket.
- Running shoes that you don’t mind trashing.
- Change of clothes, sandals and a towel are highly recommended.
- Cash for parking and additional money for beverages and food.
- Sealable plastic bag if you want to keep keys, phone and money on you while you race.
- Blanket to spread out for friends and family (spectators) who you’ve brought along to cheer you on!
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
EVERYTHING will get muddy, so make sure you don’t wear your favorite running attire.
We suggest wearing:
- Light, quick drying running shorts and running shirt
- Older pair of running shoes. They’ll be all muddy at the finish, and you can donate them if you wish
- Socks you don’t mind throwing away (or being brown from now on)!
Sunglasses are nice, but make sure to hold on tight when in the mud and water.
Cameras are a blast, but make sure they’re waterproof!
Have a crazy costume? That’s fine, as long as your clothing does not put anyone (including yourself) in danger.
WHAT IS THE MINIMUM AGE?
Forest Challenge participants must at least be 14 years old to race. Any participants younger than 18 need to bring a parent or legal guardian on race day to sign a waiver.
There are a number of activities for spectators including with more accommodating age limits:
- Zumba dancing
- Treasure Hunt
- Ball games
You will need an ID no matter your age to register at the information stand.
WILL I HAVE TO SWIM?
No. Any water that you may need to cross will be no more than 3’-4’ deep.
WILL THERE BE WATER AND AID STATIONS?
Yes, the course will have aid stations along the course with water only. Snacks will be available at the finish line.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS?
Really? You’re worried about getting wet? The Forest challenge will continue if it’s raining, snowing, or whatever! We do everything we can to put on the challenge in nasty weather but if participant safety or the venue is threatened by the weather, we may have to cancel. Sorry, there are no refunds due to weather.
WHAT IF I GET HURT ON THE COURSE?
Because we know how awesome our participants are, we do have volunteers roaming the course at all times in addition to the medical tent at the finish line.
If you do get hurt, and are around an obstacle, there will be a volunteer or a medic there that has direct communication with the event directors and we can send one of our medical teams to your location. If you are not around an obstacle, please tell a fellow participant to let the next obstacle volunteer or medical teams know and we’ll get help to you ASAP.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FINISH?
It depends how hard core you are! The obstacle course is 8k but is WAY more fun and will take longer than your normal race. Just add 20-30 minutes onto your normal 5k race time.
The ticket price includes:
- Transport to and from Kereita Forest
- A healthy, filling snack
- Participation in the obstacle course
- Sponsors 10 trees towards rehabilitation of the forest
HOW DO I REGISTER/BUY A TICKET?
- Click here to view categories and pricing.
- Choose how many registrations you would like to purchase.
- Purchase your ticket via Mpesa or Visa Card.
HOW DO I JOIN OR CREATE A TEAM AFTER PAYING?
If purchasing less than 5 tickets (a team), no worries! A team will be created for you on the event day at Kereita, upon registration at the information stand.
Will you be our next Forest Champion?Register today!
The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) through its flagship event “The Forest Challenge’’ has participated in efforts to rehabilitate some of Kenya’s most degraded water towers over the past six years.
One of the water towers that are in great need of restoration is the Maasai Mau Forest, a key catchment for the Mara and Ewaso Ngiro rivers. The forest has been badly degraded, mainly through human activity, over the years. The Mara River basin stretches through the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and Tanzania’s Serengeti plains, before it drains into Lake Victoria.
The Forest Challenge gives participants a unique opportunity to interact with nature by taking part in competitive yet fun activities in the Kereita-Aberdare Forest. The aim is to raise funds for the reforestation project.
Through its ‘Call to Action’, EAWLS has been able to rally support and participation from the government, the private sector and individuals to contribute towards forest restoration activities to achieve the national target of at least 10 per cent forest cover in Kenya.
Corporate support and participation in environmental conservation efforts have gone a long way in addressing some of the ecological challenges we face as a nation.
Proceeds from the Forest Challenge have so far been used to grow 6,000 trees in more than 15 acres degraded forestland. This year, EAWL through the Forest Challenge aims to raise about KES. 4,000,000 to plant 4,500 trees and restore 10 acres of forest.
With just two months left until this year’s Forest Challenge at Kereita on November 30, several corporates, including Safaricom, have already come on board to support the event through various participation categories that include sponsorship, participation and in-kind support.
The East African Wild Life Society is looking for more partners in the Forest Challenge 2019. The Society invites all concordant partners to take part in the Forest Challenge and make a difference one tree, one acre, one forest at a time.
The Forest Challenge Proposal can be found here.
Demand for illegal products made from endangered species fuels wildlife crime and devastates populations of elephants, marine turtles, rhinos and tigers, among other species as witnessed recently in Kenya.
Fortunately the world’s biggest trade conference (CITES) recently passed a number of landmark resolutions to protect a number of endangered animals. Even so as a traveler, you have tremendous power to decrease the demand for illegal products by making informed purchases. Your purchases at home and abroad have a profound impact on wildlife.
Ask these questions before making a purchase:
- What is this product made of?
- Where did this product come from?
- Does the country I’m visiting allow the sale and export of this product?
- Do I need permits or other documents from Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda or my home country to bring this item home?
Avoid buying illegal products by following these tips:
GOOD CHOICES: HANDMADE ARTS AND CRAFTS
Support local communities and artisans by purchasing environmentally friendly items not made from animal or plant products.
DON’T BUY: IVORY, RAW AND CARVED
The illegal trade in elephant ivory has led to a poaching crisis in Africa. Illicit ivory markets remain one of the greatest threats to elephants today. Don’t fuel demand by buying ivory. Avoid raw or carved ivory from the teeth or tusks of elephants, whales, narwhals, and seals.
BUY VERY CAREFULLY: LIVE BIRDS AND WILD FEATHERS
Most live birds, including parrots, macaws, cockatoos, and finches and wild bird feathers and mounted birds require permits.
BUY VERY CAREFULLY: CROCODILE SKIN AND SNAKESKIN PRODUCTS
While it’s likely your belt, bag or shoes comes from captive-bred populations, not wild ones, check that your product has a CITES permit before you part with your cash. Certain leather products, including some made from caiman, crocodiles, lizards and snakes require permits.
BUY VERY CAREFULLY: CORAL
If you plan to bring it home from overseas, make sure you find out if you need a CITES permit. If overseas, ask the retailer if the coral was imported with the necessary CITES permit.
DON’T BUY: MEDICINALS
Those made from rhino, tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, or musk deer are prohibited.
DON’T BUY: LIVE MONKEYS AND APES
Don’t buy a live monkey or ape overseas for a pet. Kenyan health laws prohibit such imports. Most primate species are protected, so you should also avoid curios, furs, or meats from these animals.
DON’T BUY: ALL SEA TURTLE PRODUCTS/TURTLE SHELL
Six of the seven species of sea turtles are endangered or critically endangered. All international trade in marine turtle products is banned, so avoid those hair clips, bracelets and souvenirs.
DON’T BUY: TIGER AND RHINO PRODUCTS
All international trade of rhino and tiger products, whether used in folk or traditional medicine, as souvenirs or for “good luck” charms, is illegal.
BUY VERY CAREFULLY: ORCHIDS, CACTI AND CYCADS
Some are prohibited or require permits.
“You can help save nature by asking basic questions and getting the facts before you buy something. The best piece of advice I have for you is if you’re in doubt, don’t buy it.”-Crawford Allan, Director, TRAFFIC North America
Safarilink, now a Corporate Silver member of EAWLS, is Kenya’s premier safari airline, distinguished for its commitment to the environment as the first carbon-neutral local airline.
EAWLS has revised its membership categories due to market demand for sponsorship rates. We wish to re-affirm our commitment to work tirelessly towards ensuring that we meet and exceed our strategic goals. By supporting EAWLS you are contributing to a cause that will have immense impact on the people, full diversity, beauty and richness of nature in the East African region.
The East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) had the honour of hosting Dr. Matt Walpole− Senior Director of Conservation Programmes for Flora and Fauna International (FFI) on the 30th and 31st July 2019 at the EAWLS offices in Nairobi. The purpose of this workshop was to hold consultations with the EAWLS staff and Board of Directors regarding the development of the Society’s new strategic plan which will come into effect in 2020. The activities of this session entailed a critical examination of the internal and external activities of the Society to forge a clear path for its future.
The consultation session between Matt and the EAWLS staff on the 30th July was initiated with an overview of the work of FFI whose mission is largely focused on strengthening organisations to allow them to effectively fulfil their roles in conservation. The participants were challenged to share their outlook on the current position of the organisation including its strengths and areas for improvement. The final consultation session on the 31st July was focused on reflecting on the participants’ views on the long term vision of success for the Society.
EAWLS looks forward to further collaboration with FFI as we work to strengthen our organisational capacity to fulfil our mission of promoting the conservation and wise use of the environment and natural resources in East Africa.
It has been noted that the elephants of Mt. Elgon are the only elephants in the world known to go deep into caves to mine salt for their own consumption. This unique elephant culture, along with severe threats to the survival of elephants on Mt. Elgon and the fragile ecological status of the mountain call for urgent action to protect the pachyderms in that environment.
Their security profile and exposure to poaching has been largely unassessed. EAWLS’ Mount Elgon Elephant Project (MEEP) has kicked off with the training of community scouts on Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) and Cyber Trackers as monitoring tools to help collect data using smart phones on the Mount Elgon Cave elephants. Trainees were drawn from the Kenya Wildlife Service and the local community.
The African continent is endowed with rich biodiversity and natural resources from which its people derive their livelihoods. Increasingly, the continent’s rapid population growth and need for infrastructure and economic expansion pose threats to its ecological integrity.
The perception that conservation is about the preservation of nature at the expense of the well-being of the people has influenced and shaped conversations about development and the continent’s natural resources.
The good news is that the challenge of linking economic growth to environmental protection and sustainable resource consumption is possible; they need not be mutually exclusive. There are numerous opportunities to safeguard Africa’s natural resources and ensure its economic development.
A group of African leaders in conservation met in December 2017 and decided to form a platform where proponents of conservation in Africa could come together and engage in shaping the discourse around conservation in Africa. Consequentially, the African Conservation Platform was established to promote African leadership and voices to influence policymakers in the African Union and the African Development Bank on sustainable and inclusive future for Africa. The Platform acts as a catalyst in changing the conservation narrative in Africa; making conservation relevant to the African people.
World Ranger Day (WDA) is marked on July 31 every year to pay tribute to rangers who have been injured or killed in the course of their duty and to celebrate their colleagues who are still boldly performing their roles in protecting the world’s natural and cultural treasures — wild animals and their habitats. Rangers do not only ensure safety for wildlife but also that of people visiting our parks, reserves, sanctuaries, and conservancies.
EAWLS in partnership with Embassy of Finland to Kenya, Embassy of China to Kenya, Mara Conservation Fund and Intrepid Foundation has been supporting rangers in an array of ways through its conservancy support programme since 2014. The programme focuses on building the capacities of conservancy rangers through trainings and provision of equipment.
A total of 30 rangers have been trained on different aspects, including ecological monitoring, field safety, planning effective patrols, incident reporting and response, and professional ethics.
The most recent beneficiaries are rangers from Ol Kinyei, Mt. Suswa and Enonkishu Conservancies. The trainings have enhanced good working relationships among rangers, boosted their morale, enhanced quality data gathering as well as accurate and effective reporting of incidents.
The programme also supports rangers through the provision of anti-poaching equipment such as binoculars, motorbikes, portable tents, camel backpacks, sleeping bags, boots, uniforms and unit huts for radio room. These have not only boosted the morale of the rangers but also enhanced their effectiveness and efficiency resulting in reduced poaching of wildlife. In total, the programme has supported rangers from up to 20 conservancies in Maasai Mara, Amboseli, and Taita Taveta and the coastal and northern regions.
Rangers are on the frontline in defending not only our wildlife but also people and their livelihood.
EAWLS would like to encourage our partners, members and the public to support our rangers programme through funding or donation of equipment. The Society also appeals to you to plant least one tree to commemorate our rangers who died while defending our heritage.
Since its inception in 1995, the Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), an EAWLS-led forum, has been carrying out advocacy work and has driven policy reforms in the country’s forestry sector. The network has been key in the development of forestry laws, regulations and sound governance. KFWG also runs a monthly forum every last Friday of the month that brings together stakeholders from various parts of Kenya in the forest sector to deliberate on emerging issues that require urgent action.
The KFWG secretariat at EAWLS collaborates with government agencies and local communities and has played crucial roles in promoting the integration of local communities in forest conservation and worked to improve the capacity of communities for effective participation.
Since the beginning of 2019, KFWG’s Management Committee and the secretariat have been looking into ways of making the network more vibrant and efficient in executing its advocacy mandate and playing its watchdog role to ensure sound management and conservation of forest resources in the country.
Following a meeting held on the 18th June, 2019, a resolution on the way forward was passed. It underlines the need for the network to review its strategies further to ensure continued impact through engagement in the sector with other partners. The secretariat organised a stakeholders meeting on 2nd August, 2019. The forum deliberated on a plan to revise the KFWG strategy later in August.
EAWLS Programmes Manager, Jabes Okumu participated in the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund’s Experience-Sharing and Networking Event at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, Entebbe, Uganda from 2nd to 5th July 2019.
This event was organised by the Tropical Biology Association (TBA) under the CEPF-funded project entitled “Systematic Evaluation of CEPF and Capacity Development of CEPF Grantees”. The four-day event brought together CEPF grantees from 10 countries within the Eastern Afromontane Region to network, share experiences and lessons and discuss the sustainability of projects.
The CEPF programme is expected to close this year and therefore the workshop also sought to evaluate CEPF impact in the Eastern Afromontane region over the past seven years (since 2012) with a view to informing its new strategic focus and direction in the hotspot for the next phase. Projects implemented or being implemented by CEPF grantees vary from research, community livelihood and species and habitats conservation to Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) management and protection.
The event also sought to demonstrate the contribution of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in attaining the Aichi Biodiversity targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, European Union, Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank, and aims to strengthen CSOs.
Through this event, EAWLS was able to showcase the impact and the lessons learnt from the projects it has been implementing within Lake Ol Bolossat KBA in Kenya since 2016. Collectively, the grantees with guidance from the event facilitators developed shareable lessons that are authentic, significant and applicable.