Mount Kenya ‘Mountaindispatches’ News Updates

MOUNTAIN DISPATCHES

The past three months have been full to the brim with mountain, ranger and team activities!

Read the story of Martin’s encounter with a poached elephant. See how the team’s are taking part in First Aid Refresher training and fire awareness.

Susie Weeks and Edwin Kinyanjui have been regazetted as KWS Honorary Wardens, a true reflection of their hard work, dedication and determination to protect this landscape. The Trust is also working on a large-scale REDD+ project that we hope will generate carbon finance for the years to come.

The office team has had a little reshuffle – with several of our in-house staff being promoted and a new team member welcomed on board.

Enjoy the news!

Mt Kenya by KG Brian. Please remember to tag us @mountkenyatrust in all your mountain pictures!
SUKUMA TWENDE TRUST
Sukuma Twende Trust started as an informal group of friends calling themselves “Sukuma Twende” organizing events with the main focus on their four pillars: sports, education, welfare and environmental conservation.

The Trust’s mission is to empower & enhance the lifestyle of fellow Kenyans through the provision of skills and materials as well as improvement of infrastructure.

We first met STT at the 10to4 Mountain Bike Challenge – when STT handed Susie Weeks a cheque from their fundraising – the largest participant donation ever made. Since then our two organisations have planted nearly 200,000 trees on Mt Kenya in only three years. It is amazing the power of focus and determination when groups of individuals put their minds together.

STT are always ready for the next challenge and we are honoured to have been chosen as one of their partners. We love our annual tree planting events and can’t wait to see where this partnership goes.

Check out their amazing work in Kenya here.

Left: Sukuma Twende planting with us in the Marania Forest. Right: Rows and rows of indigenous trees planted in a degraded part of Marania forest with funding from Sukuma Twende. You can see lots of the group dotted around the vast area when they came to plant with us and KFS.
AN ELEPHANT WITH MISSING TUSKS
24th April 2021

The day started off as a normal day and I was with my teammates in Lower Imenti Forest on one of our routine patrols. Whenever we patrol the Imenti forest, we have to be very keen as the area has a lot of elephants. The presence of the invasive Lantana camara calls for more vigilance as the bush is very thick and prickly, at times, the only way to go through it is by crawling without knowing what lies ahead. We have had instances where we are trying to get through the bush and when we get to the other side, we get ourselves on all fours in very close proximity to a herd of unsuspecting elephants. No one wants to get themselves in that situation.

That day’s objective was to be on the lookout for any logger, poacher or charcoal burner. We got to this place with very tall trees. Looking around, my colleague pointed out that things don’t look normal and there seems to have been some disturbance. We could see elephant signs and it appeared as though there had been a stampede. Almost as if something had scared the herd and they all ran in different directions. The first thing that came to mind was that maybe there was poacher in the area targeting an elephant and so we decided to split into two teams so as to survey the area.

A few minutes later, we could hear the other team call out. When we got to where they were, they told us that they can see an elephant and it looks like it’s asleep. We got scared because whenever you get an elephant sleeping, it usually means that the rest of the herd is very close by and so we looked around to make sure that we were safe. To confirm that the elephant is just sleeping, we cautiously walked towards it and when we moved closer.

I could not believe what I saw. I was silent and motionless for about five minutes. I felt weak. I could not speak and I could feel my body tremble. The rest of the team, who were still behind me, kept asking me what the problem was. Getting no response from me, they decided to get closer. Before us stood a very huge elephant. It was dead and it looked like it had just been killed and the tusks recently removed. Everything was all fresh and bloody. At this time, everyone was in disbelief and no one was talking. Some people went and sat under a tree. We were all on the verge of crying as we could not believe that such a magnificent creature had just been killed.

We quickly realized that our safety is also compromised. Given that it was a very fresh killing, it meant that the poachers were still very close. We were unarmed as neither the KWS nor KFS rangers had joined us that day. So, we decided to leave the area and get reinforcement from KWS.

By Martin Kinyua – Imenti Patrol Team Ranger.

Protecting Mt Kenya’s iconic peak and landscape with potential carbon finance. Image by Tom Stafford. Taken on Borana Conservancy.
REDD+ MT KENYA LANDSCAPE POTENTIAL PROJECT

Alongside our parters, KWS, KFS, Rhino Ark and Space For Giants, MKT is working on a Mt Kenya Landscape Project looking at the potential for carbon finance for Mt Kenya, the Aberdares, Timau Forest, the Ngare Ndare Forest and Marmanet, along with other smaller adjacent forest land.

The organisations have formed a ‘Joint Implementation Committee’ that is researching the international and national climate change regulations, along with the voluntary and compliance carbon markets. The role of forests and land use, including REDD+ policy and development is a hot topic at the moment and the Committee is looking at the different options available carefully. More coming soon…

10to4 ALTITUDE RIDE & RIDE IN WILD BORANA RESCHEDULED

The postponed Altitude Ride on Borana for those that deferred their places was held on Saturday 19th June. The weather was perfect, Borana was stunning and the wildlife behaved beautifully. Huge thanks to Everything Altitude and Borana Conservancy and all the wonderful participants. Everyone had a fantastic day.

The WINNER OF the Jasper Horwood prize for the most funds raised by a child over all the 10to4 events was Seya Chandaria!She raised an whopping 325,000/-. Thalia Davies was a close second raising a very impressive 250,000/-.

Both girls were finally able to take part in the re-scheduled Altitude Ride in the Wild horse ride on Borana Conservancy.

Top: And they’re back! Finally our participants in the 10to4 horse ride got to ride on Borana after the event was cancelled in February. What a fantastic day it was!
Above: Seya and Thalia our superstar fundraisers, thank you so much girls!

TREE PLANTING NUMBERS SO FAR THIS YEAR

Despite patchy and localised rainfall around the mountain we managed to plant over 56,000 trees that we hope will survive well with the cooler weather that followed.

With permission granted by KFS to continue our Trees Establishment Livelihood Improvement Scheme (know as TELIS), we are working hard to allocate plots with the Community Forest Associations for indigenous forest restoration and we are sure we can plant more seedlings in November. The areas and locations are listed below:

Area

Trees Planted April / May 2021

Karuri

40,300

Upper Imenti

9,500

Lower Imenti

6,350

Planting with KFS and the Community in the Upper Imenti Forest in April.
WATER HARVESTING PROJECTS FOR SCHOOLS

Thanks to funding from Eden Wildlife Trust received last year, we are installing EIGHT water harvesting tanks and gutters to capture the precious rain that falls around our mountain. By increasing capture and storage capacity, this reduces pressure on the rivers and moorlands of Mt Kenya that is a vital source of water for millions of Kenyans. Kenya is WATER RICH but methods to capture the amount of rainfall and fresh water do not keep up with the capacity required for household and agricultural requirements. This creates pressure on the water-towers to provide an ever increasing source of fresh water and tension with users that are closer to the source and those that are downstream.

A large water tank going in at Taveta Primary School before the guttering for rain water collection from the roof was added.
RIPARIAN LAND PROJECTS

With funding from the Wildlife Conservation Society, MKT along with the community water groups have been helping to restore the riparian river land along the Timau, Teleswani and Ontulili rivers. Work completed so far includes:

1. Indigenous tree planting;
2. 27 patrols along 4 rivers with the WRUA members;
3. Sensitisation with 2 WRUA’s
4. Conservation Agriculture Demo plot – zero tillage and minimal fertiliser input;
5. Camera trapping to collect wildlife movement data;
6. A pilot clean up scheme for Mathagiro Centre that may roll out into other areas – including a motorbike collection;
7. Water harvesting tank and guttering for Magumo School and Timau Hospital (we also replaced the entire hospital roof as this was asbestos);
8. A new tree nursery for more endangered and specific trees for the area.
"Ontulili WRUA appreciates the support given to us by Mount Kenya Trust especially with community sensitization, planting of trees and caring for them, assisting the scouts in monitoring and scouting where we have had a lot of challenges and cleaning the environment, especially the riparian areas where there is a lot pollution. The waste management project has helped in filling a gap between the WRUA and the County Government, which is under-resourced and could not effectively support the residents of Mathagiro. The entire community acknowledges what has been done and they are very cooperative. Everyone is extremely grateful!"

Stephen Rimiri
Ontulili WRUA secretary

Above: 17 of the 27 Riparian patrols on the Teleswani, Sirimon, Timau and Ontulili Rivers mapped using SMART cybertracker.
Clockwise from top left: Agroforestry section of the riparian land conservation-agriculture plot; riparian patrols and litter collection; the new roof and new rainwater collection tank at Timau Hospital; waste sorting in Matagiro center.
RAGATI/CHEHE AREA – MOUNTAIN BONGO UPDATE

A strong partnership is developing within the Ragati/Chehe area (SE Mt Kenya) for the protection and reintroduction of the Critically Endangered Mountain Bongo.

Stakeholders including MKT, Rhino Ark, Calgary Zoo, KFS, KWS, Ragati River Management and the Bongo Surveillance Project have been working towards security, bongo monitoring and bongo release plans.

Interviews and major camera trapping and monitoring to establish a baseline for community engagement/activities, along with bongo habitat zones have been completed. KWS have issued a letter approving the bongo release plan, pending the completion of a a full management plan (that is underway).

Top: The prefabricated unihuts have been set up in the Ragati/Chehe Area. Bottom: Magical Ragati Forest.
RANGER ACTIVITY UPDATE

FIELD FIRST AID

Two of our rangers from our field teams, Robert Murega and Martin Kinyua attended a refresher Life Saver Trainer Refresher Course for already qualified Life Saver Coaches in Tsavo, led by the LEAD Ranger. They brushed up on their skills including drag and carries, wound packing, how to keep a casualty breathing, chest traumas and hypothermia. The pair will now train their MKT co-workers.

BASE IMPROVEMENTS

We are always working with our teams and trying to improve bases and living conditions through donations and support. A list of improvements carried out this quarter include:

  • Two Unihuts – one for joint patrols in the Ragati and Chehe region and one at the Mucheene Camp for MWG to use as their main base.
  • KFS renovations for a building near their old Kithira base around a Camphor logging hotspot.
  • Fencing around JWPT and IPT camps.
  • Solar system improvement at HPT.

Next we are looking to extend the kitchen areas at all of our base camps. The team like to congregate in the kitchens to keep work around the energy-saving jikos. This work is ongoing.

We have increased the number of outriggers on the elephant corridor fence ‘short’ fenceline to make them more robust.

The qualified Life Saver Coaches pose for a group photo after refresher training was provided by LEAD Ranger in June. Mount Kenya Trust is represented by Robert Murega – center front row and Martin Kinyuya- 2nd from the right in the back row.
OFFICE RESHUFFLE

Edwin Kinjanjui, our Senior Ranger, has moved into the office after many (many!) years out in the field for the Trust. He is hanging up his boots to take on the position of Education Officer, starting on July 1st. We have no doubt Edwin will thrive in the new position and we look forward to seeing how his tenacity and love for wildlife influences the people he works with.

We would like to formally welcome Laila Kassam as Head of Finance and Operations to the team who has been with us since the start of the year. Laila comes with a background in investment fund, NGOs and Embassies in areas focusing administration and operations.

Charlene Wandera our Tree Planting and Education Officer, has been promoted to Reporting, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. Charlene started as an intern for the Trust as an intern in 2016 and her keen eye for detail and development of the projects and activities on the ground make her the perfect candidate for this role. Charlene will still be involved in education and tree planting projects as she is passionate about working with the community. We are excited to see her grow in this role and we know she will excel!

Clockwise from top: Edwin, Laila and Charlene.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

Batian Level Donors ($50,000+)
Minara Foundation, Friends of Environment Conservation Trust, African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Eden Wildlife Trust, IUCN Save Our Species in partnership with the European Union, Tusk Trust via Wildlife Ranger Challenge, Wildlife Conservation Society, Sukume Twende Trust.

Nelion Level Donors ($25,000+)
Timaflor, Tropic Air, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, International Tree Foundation, CHASE Africa.

Lenana Level ($10,000+)
Thin Green Line Foundation, Elephant Cooperation, International Elephant Foundation, Anonymous, Dormans, WWF.

Coryndon Level (<$10,000 & in kind)
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, The Grasshopper Club, Kisima Farm,
Marania Farm, Ol Donyo Farm, Frikogen, BURN Jikos, Golden Bottle Fund.

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 & Jemma Batten for their generous 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

Physical Address:
We are located on Turaco Farm between Nanyuki and Timau.

Directors: Jeremy Block (Chairman); Martin Dyer; Robert Kariuki, Sophie Kinyua; Tarsem Sembhi; Maj. Gen. Peter Waweru (Rtd); William (Bongo) Woodley; Susie Weeks (Executive Director).

UK Trustees: Peter Gibbon, Alice Owen, Kailesh Patel, Hugh Sloane.

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