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Serah Munguti From Kenya Has Been Shortlisted
Finalists For Africa Tusk Award For Conservation

Coastweek-- After the Ramadan break we are now back on track with our activities. To our Muslim members, a belated Idd Mubarak.

We are in the midst of an election fever and there are wonderful pledges and promises in the political manifestos but little mention of environment and conservation of our natural and built heritage.

However, at grassroots level, there are individuals and com-munity groups who are making spirited efforts in environmental conservation and poverty alleviation.

While these heroes get scant recognition at home it is heartening to hear that Kenyan community groups and individuals have received international recognition for their immense achievements.

·         Serah Munguti from Kenya has been shortlisted as one of three finalists for the Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa, 2017 under the patronage of the Duke of Cambridge.

This award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contribution and success in their chosen field.

Since 2007 Serah has been working for the conservation of Tana River Delta, an area rich in natural resources, including two endemic primates, 350 bird species and it is a migration corridor for elephants.

Despite the rich natural resources the residents, made of pastoralists, farmers and fisher-men are among the poorest in Kenya.

Besides there is a serious threat from land grab for large scale agricultural farming.

To address these issues, Serah spearheaded a Land Use Plan (LUP) and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) of the Tana Delta which earned her the 2016 UK’s Royal Town Planning Institute’s International Award for Planning Excellence.

Her work with the residents in promoting sustainable production projects have earned the communities over Ksh. 20 million from crop production, honey, fish farming, cattle dips and milk marketing over a two-year period.

·         In another related development the UNDP’s ‘Equator Prize 2017’, that recognises innovative solutions for tackling poverty, environment and climate challenges have honored the work of 15 local and indigenous communities from Africa Asia and Latin America.

The winners were selected from 806 nominations from 120 countries.

Of the three winning projects from Africa, two are in Kenya, both based at the Coast and well known to FFJ, namely the ‘Mikoko Pamoja’ in Gazi Bay started in 2013 and the ‘Kuruwitu Conser-vation and Welfare Association’ started in 2006.

In Kuruwitu, the community of 1,400 faced loss of income and food insecurity from dwindling marine life occasioned by over fishing due to an international demand in ornamental fish. To mitigate this, an area of 800 hectares was demarked as a ‘no take’ zone, for fishing.

With careful monitoring of fishing grounds the fish population has now increased by 200 per cent, fish biomass by 400 per cent and there is increase in coral cover and variety of seagrass. In addition educational programmes and savings and credit cooperatives have helped to grow local businesses, especially those run by women.

‘Mikoko Pamoja’ is largely a women’s group who have successfully rehabilitated a 177 hectare mangrove forest.

Mangroves are excellent carbon sinks; the 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide generated annually is traded in the carbon market.

The income has helped the community to invest in clean water and in educating children in this 3,500 strong community.

Ecotourism brings additional income.

The success of this process has inspired other projects in Kenya and beyond.

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator sums it up well:

‘By shining a spotlight on these initiatives from all corners of the world, we hope that others will be inspired by their example.

‘Their dedication and commitment shows what is possible when communities come together to protect and sustainably manage nature for benefit of all’.

·         Bat Defenders Day held on Saturday, 8th July at the Fort was an entertaining and educative occasion attended by the Principal Curator, Ms. Fatma Twahir, teachers and students from various primary and secondary schools in Mombasa.

The event was a culmination of a two day workshop where students were made aware of the truths and myths about bats and important role they play in environmental conservation.

The students presented poems and songs in praise of bats with an outstanding ‘taarab’ performance by girls from Sacred Heart Primary School.

The workshop was a collaboration between NMK’s Education Department and Tropical Biology Association of Kenya with funding from Rufford Foundation a UK registered charity which promotes nature conservation projects across the developing world.

·         Marlene Reid sends her best wishes to all members.

She must be thinking a lot about FFJ as she is busy writing the FFJ Story that we plan to publish as a book or booklet next year when the society turns 40.

Archival material, specifically from the early years (80’2 and 90’s) is scant and we appeal to our members, especially the long standing ones, for any records they may have – old newsletters, photographs, etc.

We welcome written contributions from members on any memorable moments.

Since inception FFJ have consistently organised a wide range of interesting activities and we would like the story to truly reflect our past forty years.

If you have anything to share please send it to our secretary Madhvi, Email: ffjmsa@gmail.com

Annual membership expires on 31st July. I hope you will renew your membership and continue to support the society.

A membership form is attached at the end of the newsletter.

·         To end with, some good news.

Doris Schaule has been reappointed by Kenya Wildlife Services to serve for another three years as Honorary Game Warded at Meru National Park.

Our congratulations to Doris – keep up the excellent work you are doing. 

(Taibali Hamzali, Chairman)

PAST PROGRAMMES

Saturday, 27th May - Bird Walk at Bamburi Nature Trail

Equipped with water-proof clothing and footwear we set out to explore the man-made paradise along the Mombasa-Malindi highway !

On arrival the call of an African Fish Eagle welcomed us: we later spotted two of them at the Great Lake and one closer to the Butterfly Pavillion.

The various ponds had Village and Golden Palm Weavers going about their nest construction; White-browed Robin Chat called from the cover of sedges bordering ponds while Malachite Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant and a Purple Heron took to flight when we approached.

There was a kind of a stick-nest in one of the tall casuarina trees and just when we focused our binos on the nest, a large shadow passed us only to settle on a branch partially hidden by other trees but it changed position for us to see it clearly. It was Africa’s largest owl, yes, the one with the pink eyelids, the Verreaux’s Eagle Owl!

Great White Egret and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl | Coastweek
Coastweek-- Great White Egret and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl - Africa’s largest owl. PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE

Maybe it had been sitting on eggs or even hatchlings and by coming out of the nest it tried to divert our attention from its nest.

There was no need to disturb it much longer as other forest dweller made their voices heard.

Grey-backed Camaroptera, Black-backed Puffback, Yellow-fronted Canary and Hadada Ibis are amongst species regularly recorded at the Forest Trails. 

Towards the end of our walk we were entertained by the melodious song of a Bearded Scrub Robin, that remained hidden in the shrubs along the Leisure Walk trail.

Despite soggy ground and a few short drizzles the afternoon was quite a pleasant one in the gloomy forest with no other visitors on sight !

Our bird walk resulted in the sighting of 20 species out of which 5 were heard only !

We are grateful to Albert Musando of Lafarge Eco Systems for facilitating our access to the Forest Trails, thus ensuring that members of FFJ greatly enjoyed yet another monthly FFJ bird walk! (Doris Schaule)

Saturday, 17th June - Bird Walk at Haller Park, Bamburi

We started our walk in rainy conditions but enjoyed the better part of the afternoon under a blue sky peeping through the forest canopy of the park.   

A Great Sparrowhawk, high up in a casuarina tree, the calls of White-browed Robin Chat, African Fish Eagle and Black-backed Puffback were duly noted.

We watched Pied Kingfisher chasing each other, Egyptian Geese giving us an air-show, found Woolly-necked Stork preening at the Crocodile pond and a Grey Heron in a tree where we used to see Black-crowned Night-Heron! Village Weaver and Eastern Golden Weaver went about their nesting business around the Hippo pond.

We had a nice view of a breeding Great White Egret in its delicate plumage and could clearly see that the colour of its bill had changed from yellow to black.

By the time our small group of four got back to the gate we had recorded 25 species during our 2-hours walk in this man-made green oasis off Mombasa-Malindi highway.

Our thanks go to the Lafarge Holcim management and especially Albert Musando, in charge of Lafarge Eco Systems, for facilitating entry.  (Doris Schaule)

Saturday, 20th May - Tree Planting at Bahari Girls’ Secondary School

It was a wet day, some heavy storms but mostly a steady drizzle - ideal weather for planting trees. Bahari Girls is a national school and on that particular Saturday there were lots of activities going on.

Protocols and speeches preceding the planting were brief as the school had other engagements later so it was wasn’t too long before the large group of students, five FFJ members and WCK representatives were done with the planting of 1,500 seedlings.

Thanks to Mrs. Mutuku, the headmistress and M/s Tsofa and Mtengo of WCK for doing a great job in sourcing seedlings and preparing holes.

With time to spare we had a pleasant coffee break at Wild Living café en route to Mnarani Ruins to a warm reception from William Tsaka, the Curator who oversaw the bench project that FFJ sponsored.

By now the downpour had become heavier, the Mnarani site was flooded and we had to wade through a stream to get sight of the benches.

 

Mnarani Ruins | Coastweek

 
  Coastweek-- Coastweek-- Tsaka, Mnarani Monument Curator and Taibali admire the benches. PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE

The effort was worthwhile; the benches, made from coral stone and timber by local fundis are beautiful and blend in very well in the forest setting. We all agreed it is money well spent.

Tuesday, 15th July - Talk by Dr. Wanja Kinithia

Dr. Wanja’s passion for bees was amply evident from the superb talk.

She enlightened us on the incredible role bees play in our survival and the invaluable service they provide in food production for human and animal consumption.

Many of us value bees only for the honey they produce but beyond this they perform a far more important function – they are champion pollinators.

As the bees move from one flower to another in search of water and nectar they transfer pollen and thus facilitate mating and fertilisation.

In fact 75per cent of the food that we consume is grown through pollination.

Research shows that bee population in Kenya is on the decline and threatened with extinction. Poor farming practise is one of the main reasons. Pollution of environment and use of pesticides on crops contaminates the nectar and can be harmful, even fatal to the bees.

Deforestation, slash and burn agriculture and uncontrolled developments deprive the bees of their natural habitat.

Dr. Wanja’s mission is to in-crease the bee population and she advocates that bees can thrive in rural as well as urban areas.

We saw various designs for bee hives that have been developed to suit different locations, including a multi-storied one where space is limited.

While future of the global bee population looks bleak Kenya has made impressive strides in research and understanding bee behaviour.

Remember: you read it first at coastweek.com !


 

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