Monthly Archives: August 2012

Beehive Fences Help Protect Farmers’ Crops

As human development continues to expand and encroach on wildlife, there has been an increase in human-wildlife interaction and conflict over the years, particularly in areas within Kenya where humans and animals directly share the local land and resources. This phenomenon is further magnified by climate change, which causes the wildlife to change their migratory patterns in search of food.

One such area is Kileva, a small sub-area within the Taita-Taveta County, situated a few kilometers from Rukinga. Here, the dwellers are prone to conflicts with elephants, which frequently destroy farmers’ crops during the dry seasons. As many of these farmers rely on their crop yield to survive, this has become a pressing issue in need of a resolution.

The Kileva Foundation, a small charity based in Sagalla, has been working to find a wildlife-friendly solution to this issue by introducing local farmers to the beehive fencing system, in which beehives are placed around the perimeter of a farm in order to deter elephants from entering and stomping on the crops.

Beehive fences with path set aside for elephants.

In early July, Wildlife Works met with the Kileva Project, along with Save the Elephants (STE), to discuss the implementation of the beehive system in Kasigau. Together, we plan to work with struggling farmers in the area, many of whom lose up to 60% of their crops to elephants within a given year.

Mr. Godwin Kilele, the operational director of the Kileva project, provided us with some fascinating information about how this system works with the natural tendencies of both bees and elephants.

During dry seasons, elephants are constantly out in search of food. The change of climate pushes them closer to villages and they will not hesitate to invade crop farms. But when a herd approaches a farm that is surrounded with beehives, the loud buzzing of the colony will trigger painful memories and force the group in a different direction, leaving the farm untouched.

Like elephants, bees must change their migratory patterns during the dry seasons. During this time, bees must relocate to new environments in order to survive. The man-made beehive “boxes” placed around the farm provide ready-made homes for bees on the search.

Not only do the bees keep elephants from destroying farmer’s crops, they also produce honey, which the farmer can sell to offset the costs of building the fence. Bees also help the farmer by pollenating the crops, thus increasing total crop yield.

A farm that has been fenced with beehives.

Mr. Kilele took us to two different farms that are part of a survey to measure the effectiveness of beehive fencing. The beehive system is rather expensive for rural farmers, so The Kileva Project wants to ensure they develop some best practices before the system is implemented. He walked us through the process by which the fences are set up:

Once the posts are embedded in the ground, it is necessary to install a cross bar to help hold up both the beehive and a thatched roof which helps to protect the hive from vagaries of nature. Iron sheet shields are nailed to the upright post at least two feet above the ground to prevent honey badgers from climbing up the post.

The hive is hung at chest height for ease of harvesting, to protect it from honey badgers, and to be as visible as possible for an approaching elephant. The simple thatched roof is an easy solution to keep the hive cool from the sun, and to keep the bees dry in the rain. This is essential because if left in the sun, the overheated bees will become aggressive and eventually leave.

Man-made beehive with sugar water to attract bees.

Mr. Mwangome, a 54 year-old father of four and grandfather, is thankful that the Kileva group has fenced his farm, and is now waiting for the results of the project, which will determine the effectiveness of the system. He narrated to us a past painful memory of all of his crops being mercilessly fed on by elephants, leaving him with nothing to rely on.

The people in the surrounding communities are also hopeful about this system. Without the fear of encountering elephants, their children can walk to school safely.

Wildlife Works is happy to team up with the Kileva project to implement beehive style fencing both in Rukinga and Marungu. We continue to study the effectiveness of the system, as well as its effects on the livelihood of the elephants. Through Kileva’s survey, we hope to gain more insight so that we can help the farmers in our area implement the system with confidence.

Occupational First Aid Training Program at Wildlife Works

With the increasing number of employees at Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, we decided to host a first aid training program for employees from various departments, with the help of The Kenya Red Cross.

At Wildlife Works, one of our main goals is to protect wild animals and conserve the environment, and during this process, the safety of our employees is a top priority. While patrolling the protected area for poachers, our rangers are faced with various dangers; for instance, poachers who are armed either with guns or bow-and-arrows frequently threaten to attack our rangers, who are usually unarmed. In addition, the wildlife itself poses certain risks, including snakebites. Given these circumstances, first aid training was exceedingly vital.

First aid teacher leading a classroom lesson.

On July 18th 2012, Mr. Sadik Kakai from The Kenya Red Cross, Mombasa, came to preside over the 3-day training program. Mr. Kakai has been with the organization for four years and a first aider for twelve, making him an invaluable resource to lead the training. Twenty-one of our employees turned out for the program, with rangers being the majority, as the subject matter was particularly relevant to their day-to-day operations.

The training kicked off with a brief introduction about the importance of first aid in treating a sick or injured person, especially in situations where a doctor is not readily available. The trainees learned the three objectives of a first aider: to promote recovery, preserve life and prevent further injury.

Different scenerios were discussed at length, including snakebites, bleeding, choking and fainting. The trainees learned about the care and management of these emergencies, as well as how to handle any casualties.

Three of our rangers practice dressing a wounded person.

Constance, one of the female rangers, found the training on snakebites particularly helpful, saying, “Though I am happy with my job, I had a phobia of snakes since I have seen victims lose some of their body parts over the bite. I have never known how to manage such an incident; I would rather stand at a distance and never go near the scene. But after this training, now I can preserve life and this makes me very happy.”

Erick Sagwe, head ranger, during practical examinations.

The training ended with a theory and practical examination to test the trainees’ understanding of the concepts and to determine whether the training was worthwhile.

To close the program, Mr. Eric Sagwa, the head ranger, thanked the lecturer for devoting his time to work with our staff. He reflected on the training, saying, “I am optimistic that during the three days we have been having this training, we have learnt a lot concerning First Aid management and care. I believe that so far we have 21 First Aiders in Kasigau, and these First Aiders are also going to help the community in the event of accidents. Thank you for your time and commitment.”

Here at Kasigau we believe that knowledge is power, and are happy to become role models in the community by harnessing educational programs like these to protect our employees and give them the power to help others as well.

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About Wildlife Works Carbon:

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Getting to Know our Female Rangers: Constance

Last week, we introduced a series on getting to know our four female conservation rangers currently working in the Kasigau corridor, in celebration of Wildlife Works’ first-ever hiring of female rangers in the spring of 2011. We sat down and talked to each woman about her experience working in the project area over the past year, and gained some pretty interesting insight into daily life on the job, which we’d like to share with you.

Constance Mwandaa, a 22 year-old native of Sagalla, begins her day at 5:30 am with a shower and some breakfast, and then heads out into the bush to begin her duties patrolling the protected area for illegal poaching activity.

In many cases, she explains, the rangers are able to track the footprints of poachers and catch them red-handed with elephant tusks, or other illegal animal parts; this is an aspect of the job that she finds most invigorating, saying it makes her feel like “a hero.” Unfortunately, as this scenario illustrates, many poachers are not identified until after they have already attacked an animal. This is because the sound of a gunshot is usually the first signal of a poacher’s presence, and recognizing the direction of the sound helps our rangers to track the culprit. Contrastingly, some poachers use poisoned bow-and-arrows, making it much more difficult to track them, since the weapon is silent. The rangers must be careful when encountering these kinds of poachers, because the poison is fatal for humans as well as animals.

Along with learning how to track and deal with poachers, Constance tells us that this job has taught her a great deal about the local wildlife in the area. She is very passionate about protecting the natural beauty of Kenya, not only for current generations, but for generations to come, and is hopeful about the work that Wildlife Works has undertaken in the local community.

We’re happy to have you on board, Constance!

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About Wildlife Works Carbon:

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Wildlife Works Embraces New Biogas Project

Here at Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, we are constantly looking for opportunities to coordinate with the next generation of young Kenyans who devote their time and intellect to developing environmentally sustainable innovations.

Meet 21 year-olds Daniel Njuguna, a recent secondary school graduate, and Edward Mwakisima, a Sociology student at Catholic University. They are currently developing a system to promote alternative energy use for everyday activities, in an effort to reduce the harmful effects of charcoal production in the area.

The project began when Edward informed Daniel of the water shortage problem that was being experienced in his hometown of Maungu, a small village located within Wildlife Works’ Kasigau Corridor project area. The shortage is a result of deforestation in the area by people producing illegal bush charcoal for domestic use. Daniel grew determined to develop an environmentally friendly solution that would discourage the use of bush charcoal. Together, the two came up with the idea to harness cow dung to produce a burnable form of biogas, as an alternative to traditional charcoal.

Biogas typically refers to a gas produced through fermentation of biodegradable material such as biomass, manure, sewage, green waste, plant material and crops. Organic waste such as dead plant material, as well as animal and food remains can also be used.

This particular form of biogas holds a unique potential to combat climate change. Instead of letting the cow dung decompose naturally and release methane gas into the atmosphere, this system harnesses its capabilities as an eco-friendly fuel source. And, of course, widespread use of this and other forms of biogas would likely diminish the amount of deforestation for the purpose of producing charcoal.

We were happy to be pioneers in the area by testing out Daniel and Edward’s biogas system in our operations in Rukinga. Using a simple process, we are hoping to eventually do all of our cooking using this form of biogas.

The production process is as follows:

To start, the manure and water are mixed in a tank; once sufficiently stirred, the mixture is fed into a commercial black bag, which is portable. The bag can hold 6m3 of gas and is kept in the sun in order to increase the fermentation process. A temperature of 36 ° C is advisable for the system, which is perfect for Maungu since it has a sub-tropical climate. Methane gas given off by the fermenting mixture is funneled through tubing to a gas burner, and ready for use in cooking! The manure mixture is then renewed every two weeks.

We are excited about the many potential consumer benefits of Daniel and Edward’s system. First, the clean cooking energy would reduce indoor air pollution, and reduce the amount of time needed for traditional biomass collection, especially for women and children. Additionally, the post-biogas slurry is a clean organic fertilizer that can potentially be used to increase agricultural productivity. The biogas can also be converted and burnt in a generator, leading to less fuel consumption.

In Rukinga, the biogas project is still a work-in-progress. We are continuing to work with Daniel and Edward to iron out certain issues with the system, which is still in its very early stages. Since our canteen is used to cook food for such a large volume of people (about 250), it will be necessary to develop a compressor in order to get a big enough flame. As of now, however, we have successfully been able to use the biogas to keep our food warm.

We are hopeful about the future of this project, and will keep our readers updated as we continue to work with Daniel and Edward to develop and perfect the system!

Wildlife Works Welcomes its First Female Rangers

In March of 2011, Wildlife Works welcomed its first-ever female rangers to the team of 75 rangers currently working at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ project area to protect the local wildlife from poachers and other threats. At Wildlife Works, we believe vigorously in equal opportunity employment, and are excited that for the first time in our fifteen-year history, we have been able to welcome a total of four female rangers to the WW family. This is a very important milestone for us, and we’d like to take a moment to share the unique stories of these recent additions to our team in a series of posts featuring each woman and her experiences working as a conservation ranger on our sanctuary over the past year.

Grace Manga, Jane Mwae, Florence Ndaro, and Constance Mwandaa

We begin with Jane Mwae, a 32-year-old mother of two, who has been with us for a little over a year. Originally from Sagalla, a small tribe located in the Taita Hills of Southwest Kenya, Jane’s duties as a ranger involve tracking poachers and colliers, who illegally cut down trees to produce charcoal. In particular, Jane is passionate about educating the colliers she tracks on the detrimental side effects of deforestation, on both a local and global level.

We feel blessed to work with somebody so passionate about wildlife conservation, and are excited to know that with this job, Jane has been able to provide for her two daughters and widowed mother, who still live in her hometown of Sagalla. Jane, who previously described herself as “idle” and unemployed, has not only been able to gain a steady income, but has also learned a great deal through this project, from how to interact with the local wildlife, to the global implications of their endangerment.

She has been inspired to continue Wildlife Works’ efforts to educate people on the dangers of deforestation. As Jane points out, our duties lie not only in stopping it from happening on our own turf, but to actually educate the people we do catch, in the hopes that raising awareness will prevent, or at least reduce the rate of, further deforestation in the future.

More female ranger profiles:
Meet Grace.
Meet Constance. 

 

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.