The East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) marked the 10th anniversary of it’s Imre Loefler Talks on November 13 with a special edition of the lectures at the Muthaiga Country Club.
In attendance were representatives from the Hungarian Embassy in Kenya, including Ambassador Laszlo Mathe, EAWLS members and stakeholders from the conservation fraternity.
The talks are named after Dr. Imre Loefler, a Hungarian surgeon and nature lover well versed in philosophy, history, ecology, and wildlife conservation, as well as medical education. He lived and practiced medicine in Kenya for decades and was once the chair of EAWLS’ Board of Directors. Following his death in 2007, the Society decided to honour his memory by launching the Imre Loefler talks — a forum for discourse on conservation issues.
At the anniversary edition of the talks, Tamas Marghescu, highlighted ideologies he said were polarizing the conservation fraternity to the point of neutralizing its efforts despite common endeavours to protect wildlife and the environment. “There is no one solution to conservation. It is the sum of all successful activities, no matter what the underlying ideology or approach to conserving our fragile planet and its threatened wild species,” he said.
Ambassador Mathe applauded the efforts of the East African Wild Life Society in leading conservation dialogue in the region and in honouring Dr Loefler. He pledged his and the Hungarian embassy’s support for Society’s efforts on conservation advocacy.
Ali Kaka, the second speaker of the night has had a long-standing relationship with both the EAWLS and Imre Loefler. Kaka is a former Executive Director of the Society. His topic was marine conservation, which, he said, has in the past decade become critical, as the pollution of seas and climate change have led to declining fish populations and other marine life.
“In 2003, the EAWLS, FFI (Fauna & Flora International) and the Kuruwitu Conservation and Welfare Association (KCWA) piloted the first ‘community marine conservation area’ at Kuruwitu in the Vipingo area of Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. The aim was to enable local user communities to manage and be responsible for all activities over a set of inshore areas of Kuruwitu. It has since been a major success, resulting in a movement towards Locally-Managed Marine Areas (LMMA’s) and inspiring at least 20 other fishing communities. It has also won international acclaim.’’
EAWLS’ Chair, Elizabeth Gitari Mitaru, noted that the Imre Loefler Environmental Conservation Talks “had given prominent conservationists and visionaries a platform to highlight issues concerning conservation without fear or favour to defeat apathy towards the current conservation crisis.”
Over the past 10 years, EAWLS has hosted 87 Imre Loefler Talks, 40 of them at Muthaiga Country Club and 40 at the Karen Club. Four of the talks were held in Nanyuki at Cape Chestnut . The Society recently launched the Imre Loefler University Dialogues on Environmental Conservation at the Strathmore University. The university has hosted three of the talks.
A commemorative tree was planted at Muthaiga Country Club Grounds to mark the 10th anniversary of the talks.
If you would like to attend any of the upcoming Imre Loefer Talks, please register at email@example.com.
Dawn. A light rain. Bristling excitement. 500 participants. A challenging 13 obstacle course ready to be conquered: these were some of the ingredients that made the Forest Challenge 2019 bigger and better than ever before .
The East African Wild Life Society, Kenya Forest Service and Kijabe Environment staff and Volunteers teams were on the ground and ready for the biggest forest conservation event in the region-after all they had been planning and anticipating all eventualities for months.
After a light warm up, the first of 92 teams were flagged off by the Chief Conservator of Forests –Mr. Julius Kamau-to the cheer of eager spectators. Some participants sped off, but most veteran Forest Challenge participants started off at a jog, pacing themselves for the 8.1 km ahead.
The participants, both individual and those from corporate sponsors in branded attire, waded through mud pits and rivers, tumbled up and down slippery trails, stumbled along a dark tunnel and awkwardly climbed a high wall — all in the name of preserving and expanding, through afforestation, Kenya’s natural forests, many of which cover the country’s main water towers.
Fun. Challenging. Exhausting. Worthwhile: these were just some of the sentiments voiced by the Forest Challenge participants as they crossed the finish line. Through sheer grit, teamwork and an unwavering dedication to Kenya’s forests, they’d earned themselves the title of Forest Champions.
Base Titanium, Kiambu Water & Sewerage Co. and Sanivation emerged overall winners and went home with the trophies: Forest Champion Award Winner, Forest Champion Award Runner Up 1 and Forest Champion Award Runner Up 2, respectively.
Money raised from The Forest Challenge 2019 will fund forest rehabilitation projects in and around Kereita Forest, which forms part of the southern Aberdares water towers, supplementing the over 4,000 tree seedlings planted concurrently as the Forest Challenge took place.
The countdown to the Forest Challenge 2020 has officially, begun : will you be competing for the title of ‘Forest Champion’?
As world leaders gathered in Madrid to discuss how to deal with climate change, people in Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan were reeling from severe floods that have devastated many areas in the region since October. Torrential rainfall across East Africa has swollen rivers and inundated villages, causing an estimated total of 250 deaths, according to media reports. Thousands are homeless after their homes were damaged or submerged in floodwater. Crops and livestock have been washed away by the deluge.
African countries contribute little to climate change, emitting minimal greenhouse gases blamed for much of the climate change and global warming. The continent, however, bears the brunt of climate change in the form of floods and recurring droughts.
A UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report released in November warns that unless global greenhouse gas emissions fall by 7.6 per cent each year between 2020 and 2030, the world will miss the opportunity to get on track towards the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement. Failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions is expected to continue affecting global weather patterns with more extreme events such as floods, droughts, typhoons, and cyclones ravaging human settlements.
”It’s not a question of whether we’re waiting for the effects of climate change,” said John Roche, the head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Africa. “It’s happening. The balance of vulnerability here is such a thin thread between crises. This is a region that has many, many crises, and now the actual flooding is just exacerbating and playing on those vulnerabilities.”
Dr. Emmanuel Ndiema and Christopher Powles will address the Society about their ongoing work on Mt Elgon and how archaeological research has recently led to exciting information, new to science, coming to light on the ‘cave elephants’ of Mt Elgon. It is well known that these elephant visit Kitum Cave in Mt Elgon National Park to mine salt, penetrating 150 meters into the mountain. Remarkably, it is only now coming to light that Kitum is
not alone and that an extensive network of at least 12 caves is used by elephants.
Emmanuel and Christopher will describe a programme of archaeological excavations and how that led them to visit the remote area of Mt Elgon where these caves are. This programme has the potential for establishing the region’s cultural and environmental history and highlighting the role of tropical highlands as a refugium in the face of climate change both in the past and the present, so furthering our understanding of current challenges facing conservation and community livelihoods. Then they will introduce the Mt Elgon Elephant Project (MEEP) and what the Society, they and others are doing to investigate and mitigate the human-elephant conflict that is tragically killing local people and posing a real threat to the survival of this unique elephant population.
DR. EMMANUEL K NDIEMA is a Senior Research Scientist and Head of Archaeology at National Museums of Kenya. Dr. Ndiema was born and raised on the slopes of Mt Elgon. His research focus is on human cultural responses to long term climatic change. Specifically, he is interested in the causes, processes of livestock domestication and the spread of pastoral livelihoods in eastern Africa.
CHRISTOPHER POWLES is a University of Oxford zoology graduate whose grandfather lived on Mount Elgon and was the founder and first warden of Mount Elgon National Park. He was born in Nairobi, now lives in the U.K. and returns to Kenya regularly for his work and to visit Mt Elgon. He is the Chairman of the Mt Elgon Foundation which is being registered in the U.K.
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