Author: eawls

The Fight for Kenya’s Forests

A man fells a tree inside Mt Kenya Forest .

In 2018, the Kenyan government  imposed a moratorium on timber harvesting in all public and community forests ‘to allow for the recovery and audit of forest resources in Kenya,’ a knee jerk response to an alarming drop of water levels in all major rivers in the country.

This flailing attempt to ban logging in order to save Kenya’s water towers has had a number of implications: swathes of mature trees planted for commercial use in the Baringo, Marakwet, Keiyo, Kericho counties and the Mount Kenya region – valued at about Ksh 30 Billion –  are rotting in the plantations.  This significant loss of revenue to the Ministry of Environment and the Kenya Forest Service has led to serious budget cuts and compromised the agencies’ capacity to deliver critical environment management projects including the Nairobi River Cleanup exercise.

Illegal logging and charcoal burning are threatening to wipe out expansive areas of the region’s forests.

Additionally, the gap in local supply of timber forced the market to respond in an unnatural way; leading to over exploitation of farm trees and harvesting of immature trees in neighboring countries of Congo and Tanzania; essentially contributing to degradation of other forest ecosystems in the region.

Fortunately, the timber moratorium lapses this November and the Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG) – an independent government watchdog for sound forest practices in Kenya, proposes that it be dispensed with altogether. Instead, KFWG proposes strengthening of local enforcement agencies and local governance units to curb illegal and unchecked logging.

Additionally, KFWG suggests that the ‘Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme’ (PELIS) currently under threat of being scraped, instead be reviewed and improved and that issues of corruption within government agencies be dealt with firmly.

If you would like more information about the Kenya Forest Working Group, please visit https://www.kenyaforests.org/

Read Blog Detail

A case for Community Based Conservation: Lake Ol Bolossat Community conservation group

At one of Kenya’s most endangered lakes, community control over the natural resource offers residents new income, infrastructure and dignity.

Aerial View of Lake Ol’ Bolossat

Lake Ol’ Bolossat, Central Province’s only natural lake, is home to a wealth of bird species including the endangered grey crowned crane, attracting tourists and researchers interested in different migratory birds coming from as far as Europe and Asia.

As a source of Ewaso Nyiro River, Lake Ol’ Bolossat also supports a large population of people, livestock and wildlife that live downstream in the northern Kenyan arid and semi-arid areas of Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Garissa.

Before intervention by the East African Wild Life Society, the beauty and economic benefits of Lake Ol’ Bolossat were at stake due to overgrazing, quarrying and encroachment on riparian areas.

Locals received little benefit from tourism that was controlled by a private minority group, thus only a handful were incentivized to conserve the natural resource. Lake Ol Bolossat’s wildlife populations plummeted as pollution and droughts increased, with doubts arising on whether the lake would survive the next 15 years.

Previously, discussions on community-led natural resource management in Lake Ol’ Bolossat area had been limited or non-existent. In response, the East African Wild Life Society, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) came onboard to assist the community establish the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group; going a step further to undertake a comprehensive community capacity building program that would see residents of Nyandarua County trained on climate-smart agricultural practices and supported in initiation of said initiatives.

Representatives of the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group visting Kipsaina Cranes & Wetlands Conservation Group

In order to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the conservation group, the East African Wild Life Society had the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group registered and licensed; successfully lobbying for the creation of a legal framework by the Nyandarua County Government to enhance coordination and collaboration between the County Government, National Government and residents of Lake Ol’ Bolossat in a benefit sharing scheme.

Now, the Lake Ol’ Bolossat community and wider Nyandarua area residents are assured of improved access to clean and safe water, regular water supply for their farming activities and diversified means of earning a livelihood.

If you would like to be part of EAWLS’ success stories, please visit  https://eawildlife.org/membership/  to view our membership categories.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Blog Detail

EAWLS supports the 10 million Trees Mau Restoration Initiative

November 1st, 2019 marked the beginning of a massive restoration exercise of the Maasai Mau Forest following the lapse of a 60 day evacuation notice for (illegal) settlers in Kenya’s largest endangered water tower.

“Reclamation of the degraded Maasai Mau has been very successful with 96% of the illegal settlers having left voluntarily,” said Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.

Speaking during the launch of the 10 million Maasai Mau reforestation program, where he led the planting of over 200,000 seedlings, CS Tobiko disclosed that 35,000 acres of the critical water tower had now been reclaimed. He thanked the community for voluntarily moving out of the forest noting that their cooperation ensured the exercise was carried out humanely, in a bid to protect the rights of both upstream and downstream populations as well as the rights of future generations.

The CS added that through aerial seeding technology, 3.5 million seeds of the planned 20 million seeds  had been planted in the vast Mau Forest. “This is just a fraction of what we intend to do considering the level of degradation and destruction experienced in the Maasai Mau Forest”, said the CS.

Addressing the media on site, the Kenya Forest Service Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau noted that KFS’s mandate includes forest protection and restoration and called for increased partnership with forest adjacent communities to enhance rehabilitation efforts.

Pictured: EAWLS ED-Nancy Ogonje, CS Hon. Keriako Tobiko, Chief Conservator of Forests, Julius Kamau and Senator Olekina of Narok County

In her remarks, the East African Wild Life Society’s Executive Director, Nancy Ogonje, applauded the recovery of encroached forest lands and the rehabilitation of seriously degraded regions in the Mau escarpment, stating that it is a step in the right direction to support the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems, which are critical to the economies of both Kenya and Tanzania. “We are in support of the government’s initiative to grow trees in the Mau and other degraded forest lands in Kenya. We also call upon all stakeholders and the general public to support efforts of restoring the Mau forest. The East African Wildlife Society through the Forest Challenge rehabilitation program provides an opportunity for any interested party and individuals to participate in the restoration of Kenya’s water sheds, including the Mau Forest.”

 

 

 

 

 

Read Blog Detail

LAUNCH OF THE IMRE LOEFLER UNIVERSITY TALKS

Imre Loefler Poster

The smiling faces captured in the Imre Loefler University Talks’ banner sharply contrast with the sombre faces of the University students filing into Strathmore University’s Main Auditorium. These students mean business- they are here to have a say in their future and ultimately, the future of the planet.

2019 will be remembered as the year young people took to the streets around the world to fight for their future. Inspired by Greta Thunberg and other outspoken teens, millions of young people have been making headlines to raise global awareness of the dire consequences that a lack of sustainable environmental practices and climate change could have for their generation’s future.

Meanwhile, more quietly, but also right here in Kenya, young people have been charting that future as they help their communities adapt to the changes already happening.

The Imre Loefler University Talks launched on September 25th 2019 by the East African Wild Life Society and Konrad-Adeneur Stiftung Foundation, aim to guide and nurture these efforts, with insightful panel discussions ranging in topic from ‘Corporate social responsibility to green business’; ‘Sustainable Development Goals Implementation in a profit driven world’; to ‘Supporting youth in conservation enterprise’.

“Why the focus on youth? In essence, because youth are setting today’s (consumption) trends and will be tomorrow’s decision makers. There are 2-3 billion new consumers—most of them young—expected to come on line in urban settings around the world. So it is critical to work with youth to make more sustainable living and lifestyles ‘the new normal’.” -Garrette Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Programme Officer at UNEP.

The last of this series of talks will take place on November 22nd, 2019 and we invite you to witness the rise of an environmentally conscious generation.

Read Blog Detail

FOREST CHALLENGE COUNTDOWN-19 Days to go!

Deep in Kereita Forest, not far from the scenic Rift Valley view point, the venue of the most anticipated forest conservation event to ever be held in the region is beginning to take its final form.

2018 Forest Challenge Participants

The Forest Challenge’s 8km route has already been mapped, all 13 obstacle courses are just about set up and participating teams are gearing up to compete for and win the title of ‘Forest Champions’.

Aready, vendors are jostling for the best places to pitch their stands to best serve the over 700 expected Forest Challenge participants.

In a little over 2 weeks, the East African Wild Life Society will lead some of Kenya’s most conservation forward corporates in driving the agenda that is rehabilitation of the Mau water towers by planting and growing over 20,000 tree seedlings.

”We are excited to partner with a number of corporates this year to drive the Forest rehabilitation agenda in Kenya and this Forest Challenge is poised to be the biggest yet,” Gideon Bett- Team lead, Forest Challenge.

Madison Insurance and Base Titanium are participating in this year’s Forest Challenge.

Royal Media Services has partnered with the Forest Challenge to lend their significant media sway to amplify the event to an even larger audience, supplementing the visibility we’ve enjoyed from strategic billboards mounted around Nairobi by our partners.

The Concord Hotel will wine and dine the wining team, while Base Camp explorer is offering two lucky Forest Challenge attendees a complimentary stay at their surreal Maasai Mara Bush Camp.

Archery, horse riding and rover rides will be on offer at discounted rates for spectators courtesy of ‘The Forest” .

 

Don’t be left out! Bring your family, friends and colleagues for this memorable event for a good cause and let’s Get Dirty For A Reason!

Click here to get your tickets today!

 

 

Read Blog Detail

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs) :

 

Challenge yourself for our forests!

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?

  1. Your e-ticket.
  2. Running shoes that you don’t mind trashing.
  3. Change of clothes, sandals and a towel are highly recommended.
  4. Cash for parking and additional money for beverages and food.
  5. Sealable plastic bag if you want to keep keys, phone and money on you while you race.
  6. 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.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE (PARTICIPANT) TICKET?

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? 

  1. Click here to view categories and pricing.
  2. Choose how many registrations you would like to purchase.
  3. 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!

Read Blog Detail

GETTING DIRTY FOR A REASON!

 

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.

Degraded section of Kereita Forest

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.

Part of indigenous Kereita forest.

Proceeds from the Forest Challenge have so far been used to grow 6,000 trees in more than 15 acres degraded forestland. This year, EAWLS through the Forest Challenge aims to raise funds to rehabilitate at least 600ha of forest degraded lands in Kenya’s water towers.

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 2019The 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.

 

Read Blog Detail

HELP STOP WILDLIFE TRADE: BE INFORMED, BUY INFORMED.

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.

Survival suitcase

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.

 

Souvenirs to avoid

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.

Endangered coral

 

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.

 

Suffering for souvenirs

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.

Illegal wildlife trade endangers plants and flowers

 

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 

 

Read Blog Detail

SAFARILINK BECOMES A CORPORATE SILVER MEMBER

EAWLS Executive Director, Nancy Ogonje presents Safarilink CEO, Alex Avedi, with a certificate of membership.

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.

Membership Categories

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.

 

Read Blog Detail

EAWLS STRATEGIC PLANNING MEETING

Left to right: FFI Senior Director Matt Walpole, EAWLS Chairperson Elizabeth Gitari, Vice chairperson Cissy Walker, Head of Communications Elodie Sampere, board member Captain John Otekat, Executive Director Nancy Ogonje and Head of Operations Daniel Letoiye.

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.

Read Blog Detail