Despite the international ban on ivory
trade it is estimated that 20,000 elephants are killed every year.
At this rate it will take only a few
decades to decimate the elephant population in some parts of Africa.
In the US a near total ban is already
in place. Hong Kong and China have declared they will not allow any trade in
their domestic markets.
The demand for ivory, especially in
Asia fuels the poaching and unless there is a complete international ban on
trade in ivory and ivory products elephant numbers will continue to decline.
The UK has now joined the league of
countries working towards a total ban.
In the past few months, the government
debated and proposed tighter regulations.
Presently, in the UK some trade in
ivory is legal.
Conservation groups argue that UK’s
legal market is exploited to guise the illegal trade and are calling for
strengthening of the current regulations with a total ban excepting musical
instruments and items of historic value.
Nonetheless, the ban on trade alone
will not stop the lucrative business that poaching has become.
The challenge is international.
All the governments worldwide need to
be united and committed to tackle corruption, improve surveillance and
strengthen law enforcement.
Handsome and reclusive, the Eastern
Mountain Bongo, the largest African forest antelope is found only in one remote
region of central Kenya.
It has been classified as ‘critically
endangered’ by the IUCN Antelope Specialist Group.
Sadly the bongo does not receive the
same attention as the ‘big five’.
The decimation of the bongo
population, over the past 40 years from hunting, loss of habitat due to timber
logging and uncontrolled agriculture is so devastating that there are now more
bongos in conservatories than in the wild.
The current estimated population of
bongos in the wild is 100 scattered in small groups in Mount Kenya, Eburru and
Mau Forests; all areas under threat from deforestation.
To mitigate complete extinction of the
species the Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy in collaboration with the Kenya
Wildlife Service and Kenya Forestry Service runs a bongo rehabilitation
programme with the aim of breeding and releasing them in the wild.
There are some 72 bongo at the
conservatory that provides a captive breeding environment; they have achieved a
measure of success.
Four calves were born this year.
Donald Bunge, the conservancy manager
says “The births have renewed hope for the survival of the bongo, whose
population in the wild is below the threshold of 250 mature individuals required
to make a genetically stable population”.
The challenge is to meet this
Unless conservation efforts are
intensified, the antelope could soon be extinct.
This is a combined November – December
newsletter as we will not have any activities in December.
To all our members we wish ‘Happy
Holidays’ and we hope for a peaceful year ahead. To our Christian members best
wishes for very Happy and Blessed Christmas. (Taibali Hamzali, Chairman)
Saturday, 7th October - Heritage Visit for Schools
We had a very pleasant day with
secondary school students from Baricho and Galana areas, WCK officials,
Tsofa, Mtengo, Silas and a number of FFJ members.
FFJ have been conducting these visits
since 2009, two every year.
They are an excellent and fun way of
creating heritage awareness. Judging by the essays we receive after the
visit the students go back having learnt a lot.
After a wonderful breakfast organised
by our ever reliable member Issa we proceeded for a walk of the Old Town
(dodging the noisy and irksome tuk-tuks) followed by a visit to the
Butterfly House and back to the Fort for a well-earned and delicious
lunch prepared by our usual caterers Queens Cafeteria.
Unfortunately Hassan was not available
that day to conduct the Fort tour but students who are on attachment at
the Fort willingly agreed to step in.
At the Butterfly House.
PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE
Our thanks to Victor Kyalo for taking
the group around the Fort, Doris Schaule our photographer and all council
members who helped in making the day so successful and members for their
donations in cash and kind.
Friday 13th to Sunday 15th October - Trip to Lake Jipe and Lake Challa
A long journey followed our early
start from Mombasa but after passing a cavalcade of lorries and a network of
roadworks en route to Voi we all noticed the lack of private cars.
We assumed everyone must be using the
new SGR nowadays.
Finally we reached our destination of
Taveta and Lake Challa. Challa is an adaptation of “chara”, a Taveta
word meaning courageous.
Lake Challa is a water led volcanic
crater fed by Mount Kilimanjaro via underground streams, and straddles
the border of Kenya and Tanzania.
As there are no visible water inlets
or outlets the lake is hidden from view. The only access is by walking
up to the crater rim following dry thorn bush lined tracks.
The rim gives a tantalizing glimpse of
the clear blue water below where a few of us ventured the erratic 20
minute decent, which was very steep in places and with loose gravel, to
the lakeside where kids were playing and swimming with gay abandonment
of the rumored crocodiles that supposedly inhabit the water but we
weren’t brave enough to dip our toes !
The author in repose on the shore of Lake Challa.
PHOTO: TAIBALI HAMZALI
The lakeside, with the natural
evolution of flora and fauna was gorgeous.
Our next destination was Grogan’s
Castle, a former home of Col. Ewart Grogan, a British adventurer and businessman
who walked over 7000km from Cape of Good Hope to Cairo.
He was an enterprising man with many
business interests one of them being a vast sisal estate in Taveta
Here atop a hill he built Grogans
Castle that afforded a 360 degree vista of his estate.
Its design is described as part Monastery, part Moorish fort and part
You can still see the quaint reminders
of times gone by with some the original features and furniture still in
The garden courtyard in the center
with its water fountain and pink frangipani tree is a peaceful retreat
as since 2008 it has become a hotel, although it’s not obviously so.
Finally we reached Lake Jipe Safari
Camp at sunset.
At Grogans Castle.
PHOTO: TAIBALI HAMZALI
The sky was a scarlet red onto the
waters of Lake Jipe, and the mountains took the stance of grey cardboard
cut-outs. Elephants were silhouetted in the foreground.
A wonderful welcome! Dinner was
awaiting, prior to a well-earned early night !
A new day dawned with a wonderful
cacophony of birdsong and a plethora of birds to which we named only a few.
It was delightful to climb the makuti
look-out tower and take in the perfectly clear view of Kilimanjaro with it’s
(minimally) snow-capped peak.
There was not a cloud in sight to
obliterate it and the lake sparkled in the crisp morning sun. Utterly
picturesque; a photographers joy !
A boat trip on Lake Jipe summoned so
off we went via a small clutch of mud houses on the lakeside where we saw
elephants feeding on the lake reeds alongside men working to construct a fish
farm, fishermen cleaning their catch and women doing their laundry.
Lake Jipe with Parre Mountains and Mount Kilimanjaro in the background.
PHOTO: DORIS SCHAUL
A real vision of man and beast in
On the calm lake we saw birds skimming
and diving into the waters for sh, numerous elephants sited in the water eating
merrily on the reeds again.
We watched them, fascinated, for a
long while. In the nooks and crannies of the reeds we saw many water birds.
We slowly traversed the lake with the
captain and his helper, pointing out certain points and answering a mass of
questions. At times no one spoke and all was so very tranquil.
Solitude and tranquility was bliss.
A late afternoon game drive followed
with the usual animals seen except a rare sight of a herd of wild donkeys.
There was possibly an albino hyena,
one without spots! Relaxed conversation followed back at the camp’s look-out
tower over a sundowner.
A beautiful end to a lovely weekend.
Saturday, 21st October - Bird Walk at Jumba Ruins, Mtwapa
As we entered the driveway to the NMK
office we could already hear the calls of Tropical Boubou and while still at the
parking we recorded a pair of Collared Sunbirds dipping their long, curved beaks
into the flowers of a bougainvillea shrub.
By the time we got to the beach it was
still roughly 2 hours to high tide, usually an ideal time to see shorebirds
foraging on the edge but there was too much disturbance.
Just a few Reed Cormorants perching on
some poles off the beach and 2 Sooty Gulls from the Palearctic regions flying
Before we decided to explore the area
up to the Jumba quarry, Clive spotted a Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird in a distant
Along the edge of the re-forested
shale quarry we watched Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, White-browed Coucal
and the ever present House Crows.
The last species that made it on our
list of 15 were the lovely Lesser Striped Swallows, which we spotted on a power
line almost out of reach for our binoculars !
Though we had to make an effort to
find at least a few species in this populated area this FFJ Bird walk was a
pleasant opportunity to check on our avifauna !
Thank you to Bijal, Clive and Madhvi
for participating!! (Doris Schaule)
Tuesday, 24th October - Annual General Meeting
Its election season! Ours were
pleasant and very brisk. Thanks to the 18 members who braved the all-day
downpour and attended the meeting.
The new committee remains the same as
all the members opted to continue.
The chairman summarised the activities
of the past year and thanked all for their support to the society, especially
the hard working council members.
The motion to increase subscriptions
from 800 to 1,000 was unanimously accepted. The new rates come in to effect next
This years subs remain at 800.
After a short refreshment break we saw
the documentary film ‘Heritages’.
This is a very well-produced film that
highlights the plight of four important heritage areas under threat from
FFJ’s efforts and views on
conservation are well articulated through interviews with the chairman. Thanks
to Issa and Rehana for the catering.
Saturday, 18thNovember - Bird Walk at Nguuni Nature Sanctuary
This month’s bird walk is at Nguuni
Meet at the ticket office at 3.00pm.
Please note there is an entrance charge of 350/=. This is the last bird walk for
the year and we hope to see many birders.
For more information see our facebook
page or contact Doris Schaule Tel: 0722 277752.
Tuesday, 21st November, at the Fort at 7.15pm - Book Launch: ‘The First Road
to Nairobi’ by M. S. Cockar About the book by Parvez Cockar
This true life adventure of the 1926
Public Works Department (PWD) survey of the original road from Mombasa to
Nairobi tells what it was like to pick and choose the path the road would
follow, while trying to avoid bad ground, baobab trees, and keeping it as
straight as possible, as well as trying to stay alive in the dense jungle.
At that time the only means to access
the interior of British East Africa, as Kenya was known at the time, was by
means of the railway which had just been completed.
The Colonial Government had just
started the survey of the first ever road from Mombasa to Nairobi and the team
had reached Tsavo Station by 1926 when the author, Mohamed Sadiq Cockar joined
the Public Works Department (PWD) as an Assistant Surveyor at their field office
in Tsavo at the tender age of 15 years.
It was only after his retirement in
1967 that he started to write his memoirs and to illustrate his story; he began
to draw sketches of his experiences during the road survey, thus reviving
memories of more than 40 years past.
The sketches enhance his story and
portray life at the PWD camps at that time and what he experienced.
Differences in topography, birdlife,
and wildlife along with the dangers that the team faced at the time are also
illustrated in these sketches.
He nevertheless did such a good job of
surveying and setting out the road alignment (which has remained intact for more
than 90 years) that his legacy lives on today as the main highway between
Mombasa and Nairobi.
All this accomplished by a mere lad of
15 who faced the hazards of the jungle while surveying the main artery from
Mombasa to Nairobi more than 90 years ago.
This book has been published
posthumously by Parvez, the authors son and Old Africa.
There will be a few short
presentations by Parvez and Shel Arenson followed by book sales/signing and
refreshments kind courtesy of the publishers and the Cockar Family.
Saturday, 25thNovember - Visit to Coastal Bottlers and Jumba Ruins
Coastal Bottlers Limited started
operation in 1962 as a small company in Mombasa Old town.
They are now one of Coca-Cola’s
leading local independent franchise bottling partners.
They also manufacture drinking cans at
their new state of the art eco-friendly facility in Mtwapa.
We will have a tour of the facility
with emphasis on the environmentally responsible measures in place.
After the tour we will go to Jumba
Ruins for a guided tour of the ruins and a picnic lunch.
We will meet outside the gate to
Coastal Bottlers at 10am.
To get there take the Mombasa-Malindi
highway. The turn off to the factory is few kms from Mtwapa town, towards
There is a sign board with directions
to the factory. We need to know the numbers attending so if you are
interested in joining please confirm with Kalim Hassanali, Email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by SMS 0735 209 814,
by 23rd November.
Wednesday, 25thNovember, at 4.30pm at
the Fort - Opening of Art exhibition by Swahili Pot artists
We have sponsored a temporary
exhibition at the veranda of the museum building for artists from the dynamic
youngsters of Swahili Pot.
This will be mixed media exhibition
with paintings and photographs.
There will be a few short speeches
preceding the official opening and viewing followed by refreshments.
All members are invited to attend the