(Posted 24th April 2018)
January saw members of the Scientific Exploration Society visit and assist the Trust. In February, we held our annual 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge, this year sponsored by Tropic Air and a huge success. In March, we piloted the first Mount Kenya Trust Festival to celebrate all things Mount Kenya, with support from Safarlink. All of our field teams and management personnel have gone above and beyond to assist with these events while keeping our projects on track!
A ban on all logging commercial or otherwise was been put in place by the Government, while a new task force assesses the extent of legal activity, forest conservation strategy, and commercial forestry policy. We fully support the move which followed public outcry about the preservation of our precious water towers.
Sadly, camphor has nearly been wiped out within the Mount Kenya National Reserve so we are beginning an ambitious new camphor regeneration project with the Kenya Forest Service and our donors.
The SECOND elephant underpass is now complete and connected to the corridor. Vehicles are still using the diversion alongside what will be a road over this elephant-sized culvert, but it’s just a matter of time before traffic will be crossing the structure.
We’re absolutely delighted that the Kenya Rural Roads Authority did not hesitate to assist, not only ensuring the corridor remained open to elephants but also by installing a complete underpass at our request.
Before the road upgrade, there were only dangling electrified wires preventing elephants from leaving the corridor at the road Though relatively effective, these were frequently compromised when passing vehicles knock them down. It was always a weak point in the corridor.
Our first elephant visitors passed through the new underpass the day after the fences were realigned! Other wildlife including wild dog and leopard are also taking full advantage of this safe passage.
Elephants regularly broke through fully powered fencelines along the middle section of the corridor at the start of the year Additional outriggers were attached to the fence which alleviated some of the problem as did the onset of the rains in March.
A translocation of fence breaking elephants in the region was carried out by KWS, Borna Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in February, one of the elephants moved during this huge exercise was a reglar Mount Kenya elephant corridor fence breaker. Funding permitting it’s evident that we will have to construct more short fences within the corridor over time.
Major renovation work has been carried out in the corridor at the 4 bases that house our corridor maintenance and patrol team. Basic kitchens, latrines and solar power for lighting and charging have been installed while major repairs have been carried out on the houses. This was made possible thanks to Elephant Cooperation and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.
TROPIC AIR 10to4
With over 400 people from across the world (including competitors from as far away as the USA, Japan, and New Zealand), the 2018 events programme was bigger than ever. With the introduction of three new events – The Enduro, The Altitude Horse Ride and The Chase, a total of approximately 7 million KSH was raised.
“Mount Kenya is the heart and lungs of the country and is a vital part of Kenya’s economic and environmental prosperity. Thanks to the funds raised by everyone who took part this year, we are able to continue to protect its forests and fragile ecosystems,” says Susie Weeks, Mount Kenya Trust Executive Director. “Personally I’d like to say a huge thank you to all who took part, from our valuable partners, the brave competitors and everyone who kindly volunteered – without all of you this wouldn’t have been such a success.”
THANK YOU TROPIC AIR for keeping the 10to4 afloat and all of our donors and volunteers – we couldn’t do it without you.
The Forest Management Task Force
We eagerly await the recommendations from the newly appointed Forest Management Task Force. The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry ordered the multi-sectoral Task Force which has been given the broad mandate to make recommendations on forest management in Kenya.
The key focus is to determine the scale of illegal logging, destruction, degradation, and encroachment of public and community forests, water towers and other catchment areas, as well as the associated impacts. On March 30th, the Task Force was granted a 30-day extension following the Gazettement of the initial 30-day term of office on 26th February.
For those of us who work on the water towers taking on the challenge of re-establishing indigenous forest cover, it is clear that significant changes need to be made if Kenya is to reach its reafforestation goals and legal timber needs are met. As a civil society organisation, our efforts can only be successful with full Government Agency support on and around protected areas.
MOUNT KENYA TRUST FESTIVAL
The inaugural Mount Kenya Trust Festival event was held between the 1st to 11th March this year. Initially, as a climbing event, this has now expanded into a local awareness raising event where individuals can engage with the mountain.
The Festival included climbing challenges, where participants attempted to climb the three peaks of Mt Kenya. Other events within the town included talks, films and interactive sessions to get everyone talking about what the mountain means and why we need to protect it. Thank you to the Kenya Wildlife for special rates over the festival period and to African Ascents for organising the climbing events!
We are very grateful to SAFARILINK for their generous sponsorship of the first Trust Festival!