Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 January 2010

Duma Team Chyulu Update: 01 January 2010

Share the article

Participants

James Mbuthia – Team Leader Julius Kyalo Daniel Lekoiten John Wahome Samuel Adero Peter Wambua David Wambua

Areas Covered

During the course of this month the areas covered included Kibwezi Forest and KARI Ranch.

Introduction

In order for any country to meet its development goals, it has to address environmental issues and utilize its resources with great consideration for future generations as well as potential negative affects of the environment in the short term. Environmental degradation and misuse of natural resources can contribute to problems such as poverty, health issues, as well as standard of living. It is the duty of all man to look after the natural world that sustains life on earth as well as human life. Kenyan forests have shrunk tremendously over the years. This indicates that Government alone cannot be left responsible for protecting the environment from illegal activities like logging, charcoal burning and poaching. All stakeholders in conservation must come to the reality that forests are a very important part of the worlds’ natural system and in order for a sustainable and long term conservation effort to take place it falls under the responsibility of people living on the ground to look after their surroundings. According to UNEP one of the major contributing factors to Global Warming and the build up of greenhouse gasses is deforestation. The Kibwezi Forest is a very vulnerable indigenous forest that lies at the foot of Chyulu Hills. It borders the Chyulu Hills National Park and private Ranches on one side while the other side borders Kibwezi Town and the surrounding Community. Since the Chyulu Team has taken on the challenge of protecting this forest and its surroundings, Community Awareness has taken a prime role in securing the Forests long term conservation.

Patrol Objectives

• To eliminate illegal activities in the Kibwezi Forest and the KARI Ranch; both are important water catchment areas. • To identify the hotspots of illegal activity and ensure the security of Wildlife. • To Map the areas Illegal hotspots

Findings

35 SNARES COLLECTED 17 CHARCOAL BURNERS ARRESTED

Kibwezi Forest Following the high numbers of arrests in the month of December 2009 the team decided to re-visit the main hotspots for charcoal burning in the forest. A total of 7 people were arrested in these areas caught logging and charcoal burning.
Now that the Teams presence has been known among the Community and the relationship between the Team and the locals has been established, there has been a sharp decline in the illegal activity taking place in the protected forest boundaries. The Wayani and Kenze areas remain relatively active in illegal activities and hence the Team keeps a routine check on those areas.
This month only 7 snares were lifted in Kenze within the forest. This illustrates the dramatic decrease in illegal activity in the forest.

Less charcoal kilns were seen during patrols, yet fresh cut wood was observed. It seems some loggers have taken to carrying out their work during the night using the light from the moon when it is full.

The Team switched to both night and day patrols during the full moon period to lay ambush to these perpetrators. It is not unusual for poachers and loggers to change their tactics to avoid being caught by the Team and hence this did not come as a surprise, adapting and changing the tactics of the Team was the only way to tackle this. The Team had established various informants who assist greatly in giving out timely intelligence as to the occurrence of illegal activities. In general less people are coming into the forest now that it has fallen under The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trusts protection which indicates the Team has carried out its work yielding good results. The relationship with the Communities has also strengthened and there is a notable change in attitude as they begin to understand the importance of protecting their environment.

The Team has carried out joint patrols with KFS and the area forester has increased the security strength of the Teams. This gesture has led to positive results giving the Team more jurisdictions in the area. The support of the local administration towards out conservation goals has been a tremendous help. The area DC and Chief have been greatly supportive and co-operative in assisting the Team with their backing and have used their jurisdiction were necessary to help spread the importance of conservation. The commitment to the survival of the forest from such entities is of vital importance to the success of this project.

There has been a noticeable increase in the flow of water from the Umani spring to the pipeline that feeds the Kibwezi town population. This can be attributed to the decrease in illegal logging and charcoal burning as well as the security measures taken by the Team to protect the pipeline from vandalism by illegal scrap metal sellers. The local community themselves have voiced their appreciation of this acknowledge the change since the arrival of the Team.

KARI

The Chyulu Team relocated to KARI Ranch for several days being based at Mukurulo Base. The main purpose of this move was to establish the intention of a well known gang operating in the area near the water pump station. Many footprints were seen coming from Kimuini and Karembe Raha Village leading towards Makindu Springs. On the 1st day, 7 charcoal burners were arrested at the Springs main source.

The very next day 2 more men were arrested also charcoal burning.
The Makindu Spring is under great threat from drying out due to human misuse and abuse. The Team moved on to ‘Boma 8’ area to tackle the Lamping activities taking place. Remains of poached zebras were found but unfortunately no poachers were arrested. Most of the wildlife has migrated out of KARI and into Birikani and Kiboko Ranch which is probably were the poachers have gone too. The Team moved on to the Kiboko River stretch to re-visit some known hotspot for poaching. No arrests were made however allot of wildlife was seen and 28 snares targeting medium game were lifted.

Most of the wildlife has moved out of KARI Ranch and hence the current situation is that poachers use the National Park as a transit route to get to the areas were the wildlife have settled for the moment.

Community Outreach

School Trips: Kivithini Primary School was taken on a school trip to Tsavo West National Park.

The children could not hide their excitement with this being their 1st trip into the Park and seeing wildlife that they often only read about in books.
The Team Leader explained the relationships between the various species and their environment. The trip was very educational as the children listened attentively and asked relevant questions. This kind of trip has an everlasting positive influence on the children who will live out their lives in the area.

Desk donation: Muusinoi Primary School which is located next to the border of the Kibwezi forest benefited from a desk donation.

The donation was timely and desperately needed. Most children were sitting on the floor or on stones for the duration of their lessons. The community was deeply grateful for this donation. The Team leader explained the importance of conservation of the forest and encouraged participation from the school and the parents.

Report by James Mbuthia