#MountKenyaTrust News Updates

MOUNTAIN DISPATCHES

A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society found a stable elephant population between 2016-2020 on Mount Kenya. However, there was a 51 per cent increase in other threats including logging, charcoal production and snaring. More details below.

Over 120,000 trees were planted this season. Every seedling is important to us, and we were worried planting would be postponed due to COVID19 restrictions. We were so proud and thankful to our donors and team who worked hard to make sure this season went ahead, from fundraising to seedling transport!

It’s hard to imagine our world without COVID19 after many months of precautions. Highlighted below are some of our team activities as they work and help our local communities keep going during difficult times.

Check our our *new* birthday tree planting site – the perfect gift for loved ones, near or far!

This year, we haven’t been joined by as many donors as usual for our tree planting projects. We were lucky however to plant with the KFS Chairman, EC Meru, other local foresters, Rhino Ark Executive Director, and members of the Frikogen/BURN tree planting collective, who were all in the local area. We LOVE having guests to plant with us and are always grateful for any extra hands. We look forward to seeing you all when we plant again.
STAGES OF RESTORATION

There’s a big difference between ‘tree planting’ and successful forest restoration. MKT has been planting in the Karuri area with the communities and KFS since 2012. The first picture shows stage one – a potato crop, before any tree planting took place. The 2nd picture is planting from about 3 years old. After 6 years, young trees with birds nesting and wildlife returning. At 8 years some species are towering. Monitoring and care after the tree planting stage are key. We’re proud of our team and partners for helping us to genuinely bring back forests. Putting seedlings in the ground is just the start.

‘ADAM’
BULL ELEPHANT COLLARED IN THE CORRIDOR

In May, 30 year old ‘Adam’- a bull elephant – was safely collared in the Mt Kenya Elephant Corridor. He was last recorded on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 2014 and is believed to primarily reside on Mt Kenya. Hopefully the data recorded from the collar will help to show what he’s up to these days.

COVID-19 UPDATES FROM THE FIELD

Our projects are still on the move and we are fully adapting to the new COVID-19 protection measures put in place by the Government of Kenya, for the safety of our staff and everyone they encounter. A few stories and images from the field below:

Enock, Programmes Officer, from our head office checking up on the Imenti Patrol Team, and collecting their monthly patrol data. We collect and analyse this data to improve on our field operations. The data also helps our operations team to determine exactly where we need to allocate resources in our conservation work.

Embu Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) geared with their personal protection equipment carried on with their door-to-door COVID19 prevention campaign in their local communities. Their main agenda has been to encourage people to use masks, maintain social distance when in social places and ensure plenty of hand washing. Gender based violence and teenage pregnancies are on a rise and the CHVs are working closely with the area chiefs.

The number of joint camping mobile patrols with KWS and KFS have increased despite budget restrictions as we are seeing a worrying trend of illegal activities on the rise due to loss of income for many people living close to the forest. Just in May, eight arrests were made by two different patrol teams for logging. Charcoal production is in full force with 49 kilns discovered and over 100 bags ready for transportation. A total of 72 active snares were found set along animal paths.

MKT have been collecting donations from supermarkets to assist families at economic risk during this difficult time. We have been picking up food stuffs and dropping these at the Laikipia County government offices to help in our own way.
Fencing repairs to prevent human-wildlife conflict continues. We’ve replaced a battery for the fence at Kangaita and we’re helping Kenya Wildlife Service to rebuild part of the Burguret fence. In the meantime, fire fighting equipment for the trained teams has been distributed to the relevant bases so we are better prepared for fire outbreaks.

From top clockwise: Enock and the Imenti Patrol Team, loading donations for Gov. of Laikipia distribution, Embu CHV’s working in local markets, firefighting equipment, battery replacements to reduce HEC, logging found on camping patrols, tippy taps installed at all bases.
RIVERS AND TREES
Supporting local water community-based organisations is one of our most important, but smallest projects due to a lack of funding, that we do. This year, we donated over 1,500 indigenous trees to the Ontulili and Timau Water User Resource Associations to plant along the Nyaringinu and Timau rivers.

Water User Resource Associations are the community led organisations that manage and protect the rivers and water sources on the ground. They are massively underfunded and under-utilised in their ability to protect the water courses around Mt Kenya.

NEW STUDY SHOWS STABLE ELEPHANT POPULATION ON MT KENYA BUT INCREASING THREATS SINCE 2016

Due to thick forests, direct elephant counting on the mountain is tricky. The most commonly used indirect method to do this is by using dung transects.

Two elephant population surveys have been carried out on the mountain by Dr Hilde Vanleewee from the Wildlife Conservation Society. The same survey design was applied in 2016, then four years later, in early 2020.

Elephant density for Mt Kenya has remained stable and is estimated between 1,419 – 2,558 elephants for the survey area. This is a non-significant reduction of the previous survey, conducted in 2016. Only one very old elephant carcass was foundwith no evidence it would have been poached. Poaching was not encountered as a significant threat. Human- Elephant Conflict around the Imenti has quasi-halted due to the boundary fence and the successful one-way gate, allowing historical migrating elephants from the Northern rangelands to enter the Imenti.

However, the most important results of the 2020 survey are that illegal threats increased by 51%
per cent since 2016.
There may well be a link between the larger spread of elephants and larger spread of illegal activities in 2020 (compared to 2016).

Illegal logging multiplied 3.5 fold and livestock numbers increased by 75 per cent. Meat poaching was found to be more spread and in the same areas where logging increased. Elephant distribution was more spread than in the same season in 2016 which may indicate some competition for grazing with livestock. Livestock negatively affects the mountains carrying capacity to sustain its wildlife grazers.

Maps 1,2 and 3 to show (from top clockwise) snare traps, charcoal kilns and logging sites identified in the elephant study. Data source: Vanleeuwe and Ngugi. (2020) Mt Kenya Elephant Survey, Wildlife Conservation Society.
LEARNING THROUGH THE YEARS

Our very own Humphrey Munene (Field Coordinator) and Charlene Wandera (Reforestation and Education Officer), far left and second from left above, were accepted on to the inaugural African Intergenerational Conservation Leaders Programme for both young and senior leaders in the conservation sector in Southern and Eastern Africa.

The programme targets pairs of individuals (one young and one senior leader) who have the potential and the ambition to drive the conservation sector forward with a renewed sense of intergenerational collaboration and understanding.

Humphrey has been with MKT for two decades and Charlene joined us around three years ago. Both are essential cogs in the MKT team and in particular work closely on the tree planting and education projects.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Batian Level Donors ($50,000+)
Minara Foundation, CHASE Africa, International Tree Foundation, Friends of the Nairobi Sailing and Sub Aqua Club, Friends of Environment Conservation Trust, African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Eden Wildlife Trust.

Nelion Level Donors ($25,000+)
Timaflor, Tropic Air, Tusk Trust via the Safaricom Marathon, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Hugh Sloane, Zurich Zoo, Disney: Reverse the Decline, World Conservation Society, Rapid Response Facility.

Lenana Level ($10,000+)
European Outdoor Conservation Association, Thin Green Line Foundation, Elephant Cooperation, BATUK, International Elephant Foundation, The Featherbys, Anonymous, Safarilink, Dormans, Tusk Trust.

Coryndon Level (<$10,000 & in kind)
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The Rufford Foundation, Bunson Travel, Gill Tree, Nick Hornby, Humphrey Carey, The Grasshopper Club, Cookswell Jikos, Mountain Club of Kenya, Kisima Farm,
Marania Farm, Ol Donyo Farm, Steve Strong, Friends of Africa International

Thank you to everyone for visiting our tree nursery at Turaco Farm.

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, The Woodcock Family, Greystones Development Company, Borana Conservancy, African Ascents and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Special thanks to Anne Tissier for her time and support.

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Copyright © 2017 Mount Kenya Trust. All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
PO Box 690
Nanyuki 10400
Kenya

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