Africa’s wildlife is one of the continent’s biggest attractions. Game reserves and national parks welcome millions of visitors every year, who want to experience wild animals up close.
They rely on that revenue to pay for conservation projects. But now, revenue flow has stopped entirely because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. And many rangers who protect the animals from poachers have lost their incomes.
Conservationists are worried the economic toll could push more people into the illegal wildlife trade.
As one solution to the collapse of global tourism revenues during this crisis, Gamewatchers Safaris & Porini Camps have come up with their own way of ensuring that animals and wildlife habitats are protected, and that rural communities are supported until things return to normal with their new Adopt an Acre plan.
Through the “Adopt-an-Acre” plan, contributors can adopt an acre of land in Kenya’s Maasai Mara conservancies for a year with a donation to the Wildlife Habitat Trust- a fund set up to help to pay the wages of the local staff working in the conservancies as well as the land leases so that Maasai families continue receiving land rents for conservancies to exist. The Trust is audited by a reputable firm of auditors in Nairobi, Grant Thornton Kenya, thus, contributors to the Wildlife Habitat Trust can be confident that 100% of the money collected is going directly to the Maasai community.
In total, there are 42,500 acres to be adopted: Selenkay 13,500 acres, Ol Kinyei 18,500 acres, Naboisho 3,500 acres, Olare Motorogi 7,000 acres.
These 42,500 acres leased by Gamewatchers Safaris provide an income of almost US$1.5 million to the community annually. Every acre of conservancy land supported creates a protected habitat for wildlife and also generates US$35(per acre) that goes straight to the Maasai people with US$20 going to payments for land rents and US$15 to wages.
Today, you have the special opportunity to Adopt an Acre and help ensure that nature’s most vulnerable lands and waters are given the care, love, and the protection that they need.
As a special incentive, anyone adopting 30 acres or more will receive a credit from Gamewatchers Safaris for the same amount donated, to be used for payment of a stay at any of the Porini Camps in 2021 or 2022. So, for example, a donation of US$ 1050 to adopt 30 acres will receive a travel credit worth US$ 1050.
See more details on how to Adopt an Acre: https://www.porini.com/adopt-an-acre-2
An energy needs assessment conducted by East African Wild Life Society among households within and around Mt. Suswa Conservancy has revealed that over 90% of these households rely on biomass to fuel their traditional cooking stoves. This reliance has led to escalating levels of forest destruction in the conservancy as well as habitat reduction for baboons, leopards, spotted hyenas, african civets and rock hyraxes who call Mt. Suswa Conservancy home. An increase in respiratory disorders, predominantly among women and school going children has also been noted.
In response, EAWLS in partnership with the Karen Country Club (KCC) recently installed an institutional rocket stove at Karuka Primary School, Mt. Suswa Conservancy. The rocket stove has a capacity to cook for up to 250 people at a go and is expected to benefit over 225 people directly. This rocket stove uses less firewood than traditional cook stoves and ensures complete fuel combustion, thus faster cooking times.
Karuka Primary School is but one of several schools located around Mt. Suswa Conservancy that use traditional cook stoves to prepare meals for their students and teachers. These traditional cooking stoves are inefficient as they do not fully combust biomass thus, up to 75% of heat they produce is lost. Their combustion processes also release compounds including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter and black carbon that are hazardous to human health.
Indoor smoke from biomass is linked to childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer and is ranked in the top 10 risk factors for the global burden of disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
To facilitate the use of their traditional cooking stove, Karuka Primary School pupils previously had to carry at least two pieces of firewood to school every day – a tedious exercise that exposed them to various hazards including attacks by wild animals.
This installation of this and other rocket stoves is a step forward in helping Kenya realise a 100% transition to renewable energy. Furthermore, this initiative champions sustainable development through improvements to human health, energy access as well as biodiversity protection.
If you would like to partner with EAWLS to install rocket stoves in Mt. Suswa Conservancy and reduce biomass dependence, please contact Jabes.Okumu@eawildlife.org.
The best way to support wildlife conservation is to plan your visit for later. The worse you can do is ask for a refund.
Do you have a safari planned to Africa this year? If so, we encourage you to change the dates; and not to cancel…
Several African states have imposed far-reaching restrictions in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.
South Africa has declared a national disaster and announced a ban on travel from the worst-affected countries, while Kenya has also imposed sweeping travel restrictions with ripple effects on the continent’s tourism sphere.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates that up to 50 million jobs could be lost because of the virus, while the travel sector could shrink up to 25 per cent in 2020.
The survival of the tourism industry- in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic- is key for the preservation of Africa’s wildlife and wild places. Protected areas in many developing countries rely heavily on tourism fees. For example, national parks in Kenya, home of the iconic Nairobi National Park, derive almost 70% of their income from tourism revenue (such as entrance fees, restaurants, accommodation, concession fees).
In light of this, many of East Africa’s tourist destinations are now urging travelers to try to postpone their trip, rather than cancel. ”Keep money on account for a postponement rather than demand a refund. When things go back to normal, you have something booked,” advices Embark’s CEO, Jack Ezon.
We recommend that you not give up on your safari, on an experience of a lifetime because of the Coronavirus, and instead make a fully informed decision by speaking directly to your safari tour operator, accommodation and airlines. Africa needs you: postpone, don’t cancel.
By Nancy Ogonje, Executive Director, East African Wild Life Society
First of all, we hope that all of you and your loved ones are coping with this difficult environment we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We want you to know that you are in our thoughts and that we sincerely hope you remain healthy.
We are currently facing significant disruptions to our lives and a major and largely unforeseen global challenge that affects people in all corners of the world. The East African Wild Life Society is no exception: the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our members, our partners—both regional and across the globe—as well as our staff.
With COVID-19-related challenges mounting, EAWL’s mission becomes even more urgent—not only to protect wildlife, but also people—because we are all now suffering the consequences of the dangerous wildlife trade practices that for years, EAWLS has been advocating against.
This period will be challenging as we continue to champion a change in our relationship with wildlife while not being able to properly mobilise our teams to carry out conservation projects on the ground.
Where we can, we plan to increase our online presence so that people indoors remain connected to the natural world. If you would like to offer additional support to help with EAWLS’s ongoing activities during the lockdown period, please follow this link.
Through this crisis, the East African Wild Life Society will continue to be the voice that nature needs. We hope you and your families will join us at the other end, all the more willing to fight for nature at this pivotal tipping point for our planet.
With a soaring infection rate, growing death toll and widespread lockdowns which are shutting down entire economies and costing people their jobs, it is hard to see any positive side of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it seems the lockdown has had an unintended benefit – blue skies.
Satellite images released by NASA and the European Space Agency show a dramatic reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions – those released by vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities – in major Chinese cities between January and February. The visible cloud of toxic gas hanging over industrial powerhouses almost disappeared.
While not a greenhouse gas itself, the pollutant originates from the same activities and industrial sectors that are responsible for a large share of the world’s carbon emissions and that drive global heating.
One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest scale experiment ever” in terms of the reduction of industrial emissions.
The exponential growth of the coronavirus pandemic also teaches us a valuable lesson about the perils of ignoring destructive processes—and perhaps even larger, longer-term disasters—that increase exponentially.
Aside from the coronavirus pandemic, the biggest, most destructive exponential growth processes that we must grapple with today are those associated with global climate change.
“If we can think about how to prepare for climate change like a pandemic, maybe there will be a positive outcome to all of this,” says Christopher Jones, lead developer of the CoolClimate Network, an applied research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley. “We can help prevent crises in the future if we are prepared. I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful.”
It is no secret that there has been major damage to Kenya’s forests, which cover about 7.4 per cent of the total land area against the recommended global minimum of 10 per cent.
The country’s closed canopy forests cover only 2 per cent of the total land area, compared to the African average of 9.3 per cent and a global average of 21.4 per cent. Most of the closed canopy forests in Kenya are montane forests that are also the nation’s water towers.
In recent years, Kenya’s forests have been depleted at an alarming rate of 5,000 hectares per annum, resulting in an estimated annual reduction in water availability of over 62 million cubic meters.
In response, the East African Wild Life Society pioneered the The Forest Challenge – an annual event meant to raise funds for the conservation of forests and raise awareness on their importance.
The Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program launched in 2015, has so far restored over 8.5 hectares of degraded montane forests in Eburru and Kereita Forests that form part of the larger Mau forest complex and the Aberdare water towers respectively.
This forest rehabilitation program is intended to provide a fillip to efforts to achieve Kenya’s stated objective of increasing the national tree cover to at least 10 per cent of the country’s total landmass by 2022.
Monitoring of the tree seedlings planted under the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program is critical in ensuring that the saplings planted take root and thrive. Thus, the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation Program employs an elaborate three-year tree care strategy, and works closely with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Community Forest Associations (CFAs) to implement it.
In this program, CFAs are empowered to work closely with KFS to undertake the aftercare activities for all the newly planted sites for a duration of up to three years. These aftercare activities include watering the trees when there is inadequate rainfall; spot weeding in order to remove competition for moisture and nutrients as well as protecting the trees from destruction by humans, livestock and wildlife. This not only enhances tree growth success rates but also creates ownership among the local communities while empowering them economically.
On 20th March 2020, the East African Wild Life Society’s project team visited the Forest Challenge Rehabilitation site in Eburru Forest to assess the success rate of the 4,500 tree seedlings planted in two phases in May 2019 with proceeds from the 2018 Forest Challenge.
The assessment showed that 85 per cent of the trees planted in the first phase had survived and were thriving – a very exciting development! An assessment of the trees planted in the second phase is scheduled as soon as the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
We want to thank our donors and corporate sponsors of the Forest Challenge for enabling us to plant and grow these trees. We look forward to more tree planting in the years to come!
Did you know that today is World Wildlife Day? A day to raise awareness on sustainable use of the world’s wild fauna and flora.
For environment champions like us, it’s an opportunity to recognize the value of biodiversity and remind ourselves of our responsibility to protect it.
Many indigenous East African species, from Maasai Giraffes,Rhinos to the African Lion have joined the list of the most threatened wildlife species on our planet. Among many other threats, illegal trade, habitat encroachment and pollution pose a serious threat to their survival.
From advocating for land mark environment management policies and undertaking biodiversity protection projects, to voicing our concerns and demanding urgent science-based conservation measures, we’re serious about wise use of our natural resources.
World Wildlife Day 2020 celebrates the special place of wild plants and animals in their many varied and beautiful forms as a component of the world’s biological diversity. This year’s theme – Sustaining all life on Earth – aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 1, 12, 14 and 15, and their wide-ranging commitments on alleviating poverty, ensuring sustainable use of resources, and on conserving life both on land and below water to halt biodiversity loss.
Join us in celebrating World Wildlife Day 2020 and make the pledge to build a world that can truly sustain all life on earth: http://chng.it/rZWRKpg4
Kenya’s 2010 Constitution mandated the central and county governments to jointly manage the country’s Kenya’s forests. The central government assumed the responsibility of providing technical support, policy leadership and capacity building, while the counties took charge of the management of their respective forest resources, giving them the authority to ensure community rights and to redress long-standing land tenure and benefit sharing disputes.
The Kenya Forests Working Group (KFWG), an autonomous civil society watchdog hosted by the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS), has been working closely with the Kenya Forest Service and county governments to implement the Gazette Supplement No. 116 issued on 9th of August 2014 that provides for the devolution of forestry functions to county governments, including farm forestry extension services, forests and game reserves.
In June 2018, KFWG, working with various county governments, conducted a preliminary public consultation meeting in Bomet County on the formulation of a Bomet County Forest Conservation & Management Bill and Policy. This was necessitated by the need to provide county governments with a benchmark legal framework to execute their devolved forest management functions.
The drafting, validation and adoption of the Bomet County Forest Bill took place in two phases. Phase I involved the drafting the bill in consultation with the county legal team and other relevant stakeholders and the creation of a technical team for the Bomet County Forest Conservation and Management Bill.
Phase II involved further engagement with stakeholders and the creation of an effective policy brief. EAWLS/KFWG, the Bomet County Environment Department and the technical team of the Bomet County Forest Conservation and Management Bill organised a stakeholders’ workshop to scrutinize and enrich the bill and policy in readiness for its presentation to the county cabinet and public consultation.
The Bomet County Forest Conservation & Management Bill draft has since been presented to the public and is now being debated by the Bomet County assembly.
KFWG hopes that the ratification of this pioneering county forest bill will streamline the forest product value chain, provide a platform for communities to get involved in natural resource management and pave the way for more counties to adopt laws necessary for the execution of their forest management mandate.
In January, a desert locust infestation – the worst in 25 years – spread throughout Kenya after already wreaking havoc in Somalia and Ethiopia, posing the most significant threat to Kenya’s food security in recent times.
The swarms crossed the border from Somalia on December 28, and have now spread to northern Mandera and Marsabit, eastern Wajir and Garissa, as well as central Isiolo, Samburu, Meru and most recently, Murang’a and Machakos counties. Agriculturists estimate that over 500,000 hectares of crop land and pastures have so far been destroyed.
“The favourable conditions brought about by heavy rains experienced during the short rainy season last year, bringing forth lush vegetation, has made it possible for the insects to thrive and they will be here until February,” said Dr. George Otieno, University of Nairobi Head of Insect science.
Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture has said it will take at least six months to control the locusts, highlighting the threat to food security as Kenya’s breadbasket regions prepare for main crop season planting in March.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya speaking Monday, 27th January in the awake of reports indicating fresh invasions in the Embu and Tana River areas, said more swarms of locusts were arriving from Somalia and Yemen.
The Kenyan government and Desert Locust Control Organisation of East Africa have been working to provide aerial spraying for locust control and have allocated ksh.30 million (US$300,000) to this task.
It remains to be seen whether these efforts by the government will halt the spread of the locust invasion.
The potential of the pesticides’ adverse ecological impact that includes the destruction of beneficial insects and organisms remains unknown, causing another potential threat to the environment.
On 21st November 2019, the Kenya Forest Working Group (hosted by the East African Wild Life Society) in partnership with the National Alliance of Community Forest Associations (NACOFA), World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) launched the inaugural Community Forest Association Award scheme with the aim of creating public awareness on the importance of Community Forest Associations (CFAs) in forest protection, conservation and management.
“The main objective of this initial Community Forest Award is to recognize CFAs actively taking part in forest conservation and management in parts of the Mau Forest Complex and targeted CFAs in Narok, Bomet and Nakuru Forest Ecosystems,” said the Chief Conservator of Forests – Mr. Julius Kamau.
11 Community Forest Associations (Mara Mara, Olenguruone, Sururu, Chepalungu, Nyangores, Kiptunga, Ndoinet, Itare, Olposimoru, Nairotia, and Likia) were recognized for outstanding achievements in governance, business and enterprise development in forestry, forest conservation as well as management and sustainability.
“This award scheme will be useful in creating awareness among communities on the importance of forest conservation, recognising passion and awarding efforts in tree growing and forest conservation,’’ noted East African Wild Life Society’s Executive Director, Nancy Ogonje.
The CFA awarding ceremony drew to a close with the various participating CFAs, award partners and wider Bomet community planting a total of 25,000 indigenous tree seedlings as part of the efforts to restore over 5,000 hectares of degraded forest in Chepalungu, Bomet County destroyed over a decade ago by illegal logging and charcoal burning.