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East African Wild Life Society’s work in the protection of the region's biodiversity has received a handsome recognition from the estate of The Late Rosamaria Paasche in Norway. This is after the estate made a legacy donation of USD 400,000 according to the wishes of the reknowned conservationist who was born in El Savador and died in Oslo on 28th November 2016.

The donation was formally presented to the EAWLS Chairman Mr. Joe Kibe by the estate lawyer Mr. Arne Os at a cocktail ceremony held at the Residence of the Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya. Present at the ceremony included H. E. the Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya Mr. Victor Ronneberg, EAWLS board members, EAWLS Executive Director Julius Kamau, invited conservation enthusiast and staff of EAWLS.

Mr. Os spoke of the late Paasche as a diligent philologist whose love for nature and its preservation was unmatched. For close to 5 decades Ms. Paasche devoted her time to working with and for nature across Africa and her birth continent of South America. He noted that the donation of half her entire estate to EAWLS was the utmost indication of how she followed the society’s work and how she drew inspiration from that work.

“It is her hope that this donation will go a long way to further boost the work of the East African Wild Life Society and champion a cause she dedicated a big part of her life to.

Speaking at the ceremony H. E. the Norwegian Ambassador to Kenya Mr. Victor Ronneberg noted that global climate change and loss of biodiversity are among the most serious environmental threats to the world at present. The ambassador highlighted the work Norway has been in several parts of the developing world to combat climate change through projects addressing food security, forests, clean energy and reducing emissions among other initiatives.

“Much of Norway’s development aid to East Africa has been channelled to local partners in key areas such as environment, energy, health and education. We are therefore happy to see Norwegian citizens complement our efforts in a big way by supporting local organizations working towards our shared mission.” The Ambassador added.

EAWLS Chairman Mr. Joe Kibe thanked he estate of the late Rosamaria Paasche for the immense support through the donation. While noting that the society’s work in conservation relied on the generosity of well-wishers, the chairman appealed to more individuals and institutions to partner with the society to maintain East Africa’s rich natural heritage and threatened species.

 

The East African Wild Life Society is raising concern that the impacts of the proposed Standard Gauge Railway to Naivasha is extending beyond the Nairobi National Park to other critical ecological systems. This is after a routine fact finding mission of 20th March 2017 by EAWLS established the presence of beacons and demarcations in Oloolua Forest placed by a group of Chinese in the company of armed men.

The society has received confirmation that the SGR will pass through the forest, a clear deviation from the SGR EIA report which indicated that the line would avoid the forest ecosystem (Ngong Hill Nature Reserve). This shocking development is a result of the unwillingness by Kenya Railways to make public the exact route co-ordinates of the railway (against the Access to Information Act, 2016) if not non-compliance with the EIA report and compromises effective integration of environmental aspects into the development in a proactive way. Attempts by EAWLS to get exact area of the excision out of the 661 acres of the Oloolua forest has not been successful. EAWLS will continue to analyse the impacts of SGR on critical natural ecosystems beyond NNP and calls on all conservation organisations, stakeholders and the public to be on the lookout and voice out any concerns.

 

EAWLS also calls upon the Kenya Railways to adhere to the terms and conditions of the EIA licence and make public the specific route co-ordinates of the Phase 2A of the SGR to pave way for effective and proactive engagement with stakeholders/public to ensure optimal mitigation of the adverse effects of the development on the natural systems. EAWLS also call upon the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Kenya Railways to constitute a multi-stakeholder group to monitor the construction of the SGR and ensure that all mitigation measures as prescribed in the EIA report are adhered to.

 

Oloolua Forest is one of the green spaces and remaining forests in Nairobi of great ecological importance. It is a fragmented tropical dry forest in an urban setting that provides increasingly important link to nature conservation mainly to Nairobi National park, Ngong Hills and other adjacent wildlife areas.

 

It is very ironical that such unfortunate revelations comes at a time when Kenya joins the rest of the World in celebrating the International Day of Forests, marked on 21st March every year. Indeed Kenya’s commitment to forest conservation must be demonstrated by ensuring that all critical forest ecosystems are protected and that the rule of law is strictly followed in cases where development interact with critical ecosystems like Oloolua forest.

 

Julius Kamau

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

image courtesy: Nat Geo

The wholesale price of raw ivory in China has fallen by almost two-thirds in the past three years, a new report unveiled today shows, noting that the Chinese government has during that time made increasingly strong commitment to close the domestic ivory trade.

China will on 31 March 2017 shut down all ivory factories in the country. All retail outlets will be closed by the end of this year.

According to the report by researchers Esmond Bradley Martin and Lucy Vigne for the conservation organisation, Save the Elephants, the average price of tusks was $2,100 per kg in early 2014, but by late 2015 it had fallen to $1,100 per kilo. The price decline continued, plummeting to $730 per kg in February 2017, according to the report entitled Decline in the Legal Ivory Trade in Anticipation of a Ban.

“Findings from 2015 and 2016 in China have shown that the legal ivory trade especially has been severely diminished,” said Ms Vigne. The 130 licensed outlets in China have been gradually reducing the quantity of ivory items on display for sale, and recently have been cutting prices to improve sales, according to the report.

The study gives several driving factors behind the decline in the wholesale prices for raw ivory in China. An economic slowdown has resulted in fewer people able to afford luxury goods, and a crackdown on corrupt is dissuading business people from buying expensive items as favours for government officials.

The Chinese government has also made strong commitments to close down the country’s legal ivory trade, and public awareness campaigns have exposed many potential buyers to the impact that buying ivory has on Africa’s elephants.

By Charlotte Beauvoisin

Hidden in the dense rainforests that stretch across Uganda’s southwestern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo dwells a gentle giant that has intrigued and amazed the world for hundreds of years.

Uganda is home to half of the estimated 880 mountain gorillas alive today, but the great apes are critically endangered. Their home in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and biodiversity hotspot, is a fragile habitat under threat.

People living around Bwindi are among the poorest and most marginalized. They have inadequate access to basic social services, including healthcare and a means to provide for their families. This forces them to depend on the forest for basic needs such as food and fuel wood. But every time people enter the forest, they interfere with the gorillas’ habitat and could transmit human diseases to the gorillas. But lacking viable alternative livelihoods, people continue to poach and cause deforestation in the park.

Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), a Ugandan non-profit organization featured in the January-March 2017 edition of Swara is supporting biodiversity conservation by enabling humans, wildlife and livestock to coexist while improving the health and livelihoods of people in and around protected areas. It is CTPH’s mission to save the endangered mountain gorilla by improving rural public health and community attitudes towards conservation.

Working with communities, CTPH discovered that there is a growing local economy around coffee farming. Coffee is of vital importance to Uganda’s economy. The commodity accounts for 22 per cent of the country’s export earnings. While there is great potential to benefit from the coffee industry, CTPH found that the impoverished communities that grow coffee on the slopes of Bwindi Forest lacked the resources and the reliable coffee market required to increase their income, improve their way of life and hence reduce encroachment on the gorillas’ habitat.

CTPH has partnered with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Switzerland) to create Gorilla Conservation Coffee, a social enterprise that is saving gorillas ‘one coffee sip at a time.’ Some 75 small-holder coffee farmers in Bwindi have come together to form the Bwindi Coffee Growers Cooperative. They are being taught sustainable farming practices and good post-harvest coffee handling techniques, in addition to being paid a premium for their coffee and having a steady market for their product. Coffee farmers in the cooperative are already reaping the benefits. Hundreds more farmer are expected to join the cooperative in the near future.

 

The Gorilla Conservation Coffee will not stop there: With every purchase of a bag of coffee, consumers help ensure the survival of the critically endangered mountain gorilla. As a social enterprise of CTPH, sales from Gorilla Conservation Coffee provide sustainable financing for CTPH programmes.

 

The primary goal of Gorilla Conservation Coffee was the protection of mountain gorillas and their habitat through inclusive growth and support for the local the economy around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Gorilla Conservation Coffee connects the growing economic prosperity of the farmers with gorilla conservation. With the right support, farmers are less likely to damage the gorillas’ habitat.

 

There is no one solution to gorilla conservation, but Gorilla Conservation Coffee is a community-driven solution that supports local coffee farmers and their families to reach their full potential. Gorillas are unlikely to survive without the support of the local communities with whom they share a fragile habitat.

Gorilla Conservation Coffee is on sale at tourist lodges across Uganda, at Entebbe Airport’s 

Duty free shop and the website www.gorillaconservationcoffee.org

For more on Conservation Through Public Health visit www.ctph.org

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