Mountain Dispatches January to March 2017

Mount Kenya Trust Quarterly Update

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News from the Mount Kenya Trust
January to March 2017
Dear Friends,

Despite difficult drought times for Mt Kenya and the region as a whole, we have been able to continue our work effectively and hold two very successful events in February and March. The Fly540 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge and the Trust’s 2nd Three Peaks Climb were a great hit with participants and collectively raised over 7.5 million KSh for the Trust’s projects and operations.

The first detailed survey of the Imenti Forest has been carried out by our teams with the help of KWS as part of a larger project focusing on the Upper and Lower Imenti Forests. We also have set up a new team for the larger Imenti area, held a First Aid training course and run several ‘off base’ camping patrols in illegal activity hot spots.

Training for newly recruited community health workers was carried out in February by the Trust and the Ministry of Heath as we geographically expand our Community Health Project. Two weeks full weeks of education outreaches were led by our Field Co-ordinator Humphrey Munene in this first quarter, with participation from KWS and our Senior Community Wildlife Officer.

All this was achieved alongside continuous fire fighting support with a number of stakeholders for the entire quarter. As well as supporting the teams with vehicle fuel and rations for the men on the ground, we purchased nearly 200,000 KSh worth of equipment to assist them.

Thank you for your support, we keep going because of each of you – the donor organisations, our local supporters, event sponsors and or course our intrepid event participants.

It takes a whole community to keep us working and we are grateful to all of you.

Susie Weeks
Executive Officer


We simply cannot let our forest burn.

Fires all over the western side of the mountain have been a constant battle. High winds and dry vegetation mean even a small fire spreads quickly and fiercely. Black charcoaled moorlands and forest is becoming a regular occurrence in the Reserve and Park. Ancient trees that have taken centuries to grow can burn down in hours.

We are lucky that a strong partnership between Kenya Forest Service, Rhino Ark and ourselves exists, who rally every time a smoke plume appears with manpower, rations and aerial surveillance. More focus is required on the causes of the fires, not just the symptoms. There are harsh penalties for deliberately or accidental fires within the National Park and individuals need to be held accountable. A fire management meeting will be held to assess the situation of fire breaks, firefighting equipment, and government law enforcement.

We are most grateful to those of you who sent donations via mpesa to help with fire fighting rations and fuel this quarter.

Above: Fires burn fiercely in dry conditions on Mount Kenya’s moorlands and forest.
Three Peaks Fundraising Climb

African Ascents did another superb job guiding the 11 climbers to Lenana and Nelion. Due to icy conditions, the attempt to summit Batian was abandoned. The climb was a huge success and raised over 1 million KSh for the Horse Patrol Team. Big hand to Gwili Gibbon, Jamie Manual and Julian Wright for organising the participants, training and final climb. Special thanks to Elephant Co-operation for your surprise donation which gave sponsorship efforts from the team a massive boost!

A finale fundraiser was also held at One Stop Nanyuki with a raffle, auction, carboot sale and great evening entertainment featuring the ‘The Itch’. The event drew a great crowd from the local community – all in support of the Trust. We are indebted to One Stop Nanyuki for hosting the event. Huge thanks to all the local businesses and supporters that donated prizes for the raffle and auction and everyone who came along!

Join us next year – dates set for Aberdares training weekend on the 22nd to 25th February 2018 and the Three Peak Attempt on the 5th to 7th March 2018. Please contact bsummers if you are interested in putting your name down.

From top left moving lockwise: The climbers ascend from the peaks, camping on the moorlands, a snowy few days at the top, with the horse patrol team at Solo camp.
Ranger First Aid

A two day first aid course was held for the MKT rangers by St John’s Ambulance. The teams were taught how to recognise life-threatening situations and offer vital assistance before more help arrives. Topics covered included CPR, broken bones, burns, soft tissue injury, seizures, head injuries and bleeding.

Thank you to the Thin Green Line Foundation for providing the funding for this vital training.

Left: Learning how to apply bandages Right: Seeing to an unconscious patient.
The FLY540 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge

"Where else can you mountain bike through herds of elephants?!"

Close to 250 people from as far afield as Colorado, USA, and as near as Timau, Meru County, took part in the event’s series of mountain bike races and rides. Over 6.1 million was raised for the Mount Kenya Trust’s social and environmental projects.

David Kamau, 44, from Kikuyu, surged to the front during Friday’s Hardcore event for professional and serious amateur riders, and held the lead throughout most of the 90km race to finish three minutes ahead of the 2016 champion, David Kinjah his Safari Simbaz teammate.

Among the 245 other adult participants, this year were riders from Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, and Britain, including a team from Leadville in Colorado, USA. Rebecca Katz, who came second overall in the women’s Roller Coaster Classic, praised the event, saying:

"It’s really important to make people aware of the fact that Mount Kenya is a water tower for all Kenyans," said Don Smith, Chief Executive of Fly540, which has been the 10to4’s title sponsor since 2013.

"The 10to4 is a lifeline for everyone and the Mount Kenya Trust helps to protect it for our future generations."

On Sunday, the Rift Valley Adventures sponsored the children’s ‘Mini 10to4’. David Kinjah and his team helped to mark the course and support the children over the trickiest bits of the course.

Huge thanks to all the sponsors, hosts and partners and our overall event organiser Adele Wilson for making this year’s 10to4 a truly exceptional weekend. We can’t mention all the volunteers and wonderful people who assist us at every stage of the event but you know who you are. Many many thanks!

Below left: Triumphant Safari Simbaz the over all winning team once again racing for Fly540; Below right: women’s champion the winner of the two day Extreme: Michele Glauser crossing the finish line; Bottom: The start of one of the Rift Valley Adventures ‘Mini 10to4’ races for children.
Going the Extra Mile

Olivia Horwood raised over 430,000 KSh for the Trust in memory of her brother Jasper, winning the Jasper Horwood Trophy at the 10to4 this year. She more than doubled her initial target and has made a huge contribution to the work of the Trust. Thank you Olly for this huge effort in honour of Jasper.

Team "Over 60’s" made their own impact by raising over 800,000KSh winning the trophy for the team who raised the most sponsorship taking home the trophy for the team raising the most. The team was made up of Terry Davidson, Martin Dunford and the Trust’s Chairman Jeremy Block.

Going the extra mile to raise sponsorship for participation makes a BIG difference to the event’s total proceeds and therefore our project capacity. Many thanks to all of you who appealed to your networks for sponsorship!

Pictured left is Olivia with her friend Edith before they tackled their big race in February.

Elephant Density in the Imenti

With support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and World Conservation Society, the first seasonal elephant density survey took place in Imenti forest Reserve last month.

Our rangers, alongside Kenya Wildlife Service, were taught how to identify on transects different vegetation, elephant dung decay rate and topography.

Once there is a clearer idea of how elephants are using the Upper and Lower Imenti, we can work on ways to help them navigate safely and less destructively through human settlements, PELIS areas and prevent human-wildlife conflict. Results to follow.

Thank you Hilde VanLeeuwe and Gwili Gibbon for your help and British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK). for the pictures.

The Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor

Maintenance of the Corridor has continued despite funding difficulties. Thanks to funds from the 10to4 event and Elephant Cooperation who made a generous contribution last year to keep our six man fencing team going. All the corridor partners including Kisima Farm, Marania Farm and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy give financial and in-kind support as part of their commitment to keeping the corridor viable.

Running Dry

With drought conditions declared in Kenya, it was deemed fit to start our education programme with the film titled ‘Running Dry’. The film shows Mount Kenya as a vital water tower for the entire country and highlights water pressures, cycles and threats due to deforestation, pollution and the abuse of water reserves or sources. Running Dry was produced by the African Environmental Film Foundation.

The schools were given Mount Kenya environmental booklets, kindly donated by Safarilink, comic books and a calendar to boost their knowledge on the ecology of Mount Kenya as well as to teach the community on how to handle human-elephant conflict. A total of 20 schools were reached and over 4000 students. The team were assisted by George Kamau, a KWS ranger, and Edwin Kinyanjui, one of our rangers from the Joint Wildlife Protection Team.

Pupils at the interactive education session in March.
Community Health

A three-day training, facilitated by MKT and CHASE Africa and conducted by the Ministry of Health, was held to train eight new community health worker’s (CHW’s) from North Imenti and Kirinyaga County.

Mobilisers are an efficient way to reach out to communities that border the National Reserve. Having a community member trained in health and family planning issues, they can provide round the clock health service to a huge number of people. This brings the total of MKT CHW’s to 16 individuals.

A range of topics was covered in the training including family planning, ante-natal and post-natal care, cervical, prostate and breast cancer, HIV&AIDS, sanitation, reporting, conservation and environmental issues.

We are currently reaching around 1000 women each month with family planning services (short and long term contraceptives) and 500 clients with basic health care such as HIV testing and counselling, diabetes testing and curative care.

Read more about CHASE Africa and their support for us and other Kenyan organisations in their latest newsletter.

From top left moving clockwise: New mobilisers are trained in Nanyuki, Delphin Mukira works on planning for a new CHSP project with partners Dandelion, a doctor provides medical service.
Open Wide!

Our Horse Patrol Team ponies had their teeth examined and cleaned once again thanks to North Kenya Vet Services and the team from Equine Dental Services from the UK. They visit Kenya once a year and provide a free service just for the the Mount Kenya Trust ponies. Thank you guys!

Parting Shot: A very relaxed family of elephants move through the middle section of the Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor towards the mountain in February.
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Thank you for your support in 2017!

Batian Level Donors
The US Fish and Wildlife Service

Nelion Level Donors & Fundraising Events
CHASE Africa, Timaflor, Elephant Cooperation.
Fly540 10to4 Sponsors: Fly540

Lenana Level Donors
Hugh Sloane, Safaricom Marathon via Tusk Trust, International Tree Foundation. European Outdoor Conservation Association, Disney via the World Conservation Society, Thin Green Line Foundation

Coryndon Level Donors
Eden Wildlife Trust, The Woodcock Family, Tusk Trust
Fly 540 10to4 Sponsors: BATUK, Tropic Air

Point Piggot Level Donors & Event sponsors
International Elephant Foundation, The Rufford Foundation, BATUK.

Point Dutton Level Donors & Event Sponsors
Safarilink, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kisima Farm, Marania Farm, Ol Donyo Farm, Steve Strong, Emily Marston, Bunson Travel.

Fly540 10to4Sponsors: Kisima Farm, Borana Conservancy, Highlands Water, Farwell, Ol Donyo Farm, The Born Free Foundation (Kenya), Rift Valley Adventures, Commercial Bank of Africa, Masscor, Cunningham Safaris, Bayer, Agventure, Equinox Flowers, Shimano, Dormans, Driftwood, Bikes & Outdoor Adventures, Huduma Services, Mpala Ranch, KFC, Carlson Wagonlit Browns Cheese, Karisia Walking Safaris, Saab, Rhino Ark, MatBronze, Ngare Ndare Forest Trust, Uhuru Flowers, AMREF, Laikipia Wilderness, Laikipa Wildlife Forum, Sky Health Center, Aga Khan Hospital, Gundua Foundation, Tambuzi, Savage Wilderness, Marania Farm, Raka Cheese, Mawingu, African Ascents, Sirai, Hamptons School, Ol Pejeta, Annabel Pope.

Thanks to the following people and organisations for their assistance for Fire Fighting rations so far this year: The Mountain Club of Kenya, Maggie and Tim Hobbs, Samchi Nanyuki, Rhino Ark, Sparky and Celia Behrens, Nicola and Morten Jensen, Kenneth Adcock, Lynne Mitchell.

Congratulaions to Beth Lewis, John Mugambi and Martin Waiganjo for climbing to Point Lenana in early March and raising over 80,000 Kenya Shillings for the Horse Patrol Team!

Thank you to everyone who is visiting our tree nursery and buying seedlings at Turaco Farm.

To all our friends and supporters who took part and / or contributed to the 3 peaks climb for the horse patrol team, many many thanks. Thanks to the following people and companies who supported the One Stop fundraiser:
Rutundu Lodge, Samatian Island, JS Hardware, Solio Lodge, Ragati Conservancy, Tamarind Village, The Well Hung Butcher, Jack Wright, Ali Allport, Le Rustique, Equinox Flowers, Coffee Shack, Cookswell Jikos, Soames Restaurant, Stefanie Sarges, Mountain Oil, Banana Box, Simply Sandra, One Stop Salon, Cinnabar Green, Moranis Restaurant, Delia’s Ice Cream, Wizzy, Tamarind Restaurant, Pomdoro Pizza, The Flower Shop, Carol’s Cafe, Jutsons, Dormans.

Our partners: We wouldn’t be able to keep up the good work without our most important supporting & operational partners. These include The Kenya Wildlife Service, The Kenya Forest Service, Rhino Ark, Kisima Farm, Marania Farm, Tropic Air, Borana Conservancy, African Ascents Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and One Stop.

Thank you to Nancy Balfour, Charlie Morison, Morten Jensen, Nicola Huxley and Hilde VanLeeuwe and Gwili Gibbon for your voluntary time and assistance.

At the 10to4 there were many many volunteers but we would like to particularly thank our patron Paul Sherwen, Don and Tracy White, Clare and Charlie Hewitt-Stubbs, Llwellyn Dyer, Buzz Robertson, Martin Dyer, Charlie Dyer, Olly Keeble, Will Dyer, Milan Shah, Tom Lawrence, Delulu Upson, Florence Hole, John Mugambi, Johnsone Parkenga and the team from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Photos: Mount Kenya Trust, Gwili Gibbon, Jamie Maunel, James Thorogood.
Donate to the cause via Tusk Trust