Monthly Archives: September 2012

Getting to Know our Female Rangers: Grace

One of Grace Manga’s favorite activities as a wildlife ranger is tracking the footprints of poachers. She tells us that the team of rangers is almost always able to catch up with the culprits, regardless of the distance they have covered. When footprints or bicycle tracks are discovered, the rangers jump into their car and head in the direction of the tracks. In most cases, the poachers initially try to outrun the rangers, but eventually give in and surrender their weapons. She finds this process very exciting, explaining that “It always looks like a bush movie!”

Grace, 21, was born and raised in Kasigau, where her mother, grandmother, and 3-year-old daughter currently live. Grace has been working as a ranger for Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project for a year and a half, and through this job has become the sole financial provider for her family, and has even been able to buy school uniforms for her daughter. We are happy to have female role models like Grace on our Wildlife Works team.

Like us, Grace believes that non-violent methods are the best means of reaching an agreement. Her experience as a ranger has taught her that dialogue is the best way to subdue poachers and colliers on the run, especially if they are armed. Grace and her team enjoy educating colliers on eco-charcoal in the hopes that they will embrace this new method in the future.

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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.

Growing Responsibly Through the Use of Sustainable Material and Means

The battle between development and environmental conservation can often be a fierce one.  With the natural progression towards growth, the environment is often left tattered in the wake.

Wildlife Works at our Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project has certainly grown in the last few years, and will hopefully continue to do so. We’ve increased the number of jobs in the local area twofold from a year ago. We are very aware of the effects of development on the environment, which is why we’ve opted to use simple, eco-friendly architecture wherever we can.

The newest sector in the company requires a base from which they can run their field operations. The concept of their new building involves using traditional architecture from the local community. The construction of circular buildings (‘rondavels’) is carried out using the “Finniemore” technology which involves an extremely simple “rammed earth” method.

The “Rammed Earth” Method is Used to Construct the Walls

“Rammed earth” compacts the soil excavated on site, thereby dramatically reducing the need to import materials. Why? There is no stabilising compound needed as long as the footings are well drained. Once the roof is in place, voila! It stands up to the test of time!

Once the outer walls have been constructed, another rammed earth construction method is used to build the interior dividing walls. These blocks are compressed in a simple hand-operated machine which produces Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks, more commonly known as ISSB. Three unskilled labourers are able to use this machine and create either curved or straight blocks. The shape of the blocks allows them to interlock, meaning that there is no need for a cement mortar between courses. This method is not only cheaper than buying, transporting and installing a plastic tank from a large corporation, but is also longer lasting and increases employment of local unskilled labourers, as well as further reducing imports.

The roofing for the research centre is made from the coastal-style Makuti, which is the same roofing style we used in our dining area, as described in our previous blog entry. The Makuti sections (coconut leaflets wound over the mid rib of the coconut leaf) are often made by mothers and grandmothers, while they sit on their stoops watching over their children and chickens. Not only is this a great roofing method that keeps the building cool, which is ideal for housing and meeting areas, it also provides a small additional income for Kenyan women in their own homes. During their spare time, the women are able to convert a by-product of a tree found locally into something useful for extra income.

Makuti roofs are all natural and sustainable, and they create local jobs and decrease the importation of alternatives such as metal and other non-compostable materials.

Wildlife Works Research Center Close to Completion

The Wildlife Works team is very happy with the construction so far! We are always on the lookout to use materials that are as local and sustainable as possible. We appreciate methods that create jobs and increase the skills of the local population. If you know of any innovative ideas that you believe will work in the area, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Three Elephants Killed in Taita Ranch as Asia’s Thirst for Ivory Grows

We’re saddened to report that three elephants were killed this past Sunday in Taita Ranch, at the far end of our project area. The poachers, four armed Somalis, were discovered by Kenya Wildlife Service and Wildlife Works rangers as they were removing the tusks from the dead elephants. They immediately fled the scene, with a brief exchange of gunfire aimed at a Kenya Wildlife Service vehicle. The poachers were pursued following the attacks but have yet to be caught.

The incident reflects a growing demand for ivory in East Asia, and China in particular, where the material is considered a symbol of affluence and prestige. Despite the efforts of Wildlife Works and other conservation groups, the growing demand for ivory threatens to wipe out the African elephant completely.

We are grateful that none of our rangers were harmed in this incident, and will keep our readers updated about any new developments concerning the incident.

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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.

Scholarship Beneficiaries Give Back to Wildlife Works

Wildlife Works sponsors a scholarship program called the Kelimu Trust, a fund that aims to uplift education standards for underprivileged students in Kenya. As the school term closes, many beneficiaries of these scholarships spend their vacation time volunteering at the Wildlife Works greenhouse as a means of giving back to the community and of showing their gratitude.

We interviewed 17-year-old Emmanuel Mulewa, a 12th grader at Ribe Boys High School in northern Kenya. Emmanuel applied to the Kelimu Trust after completing 8th grade when he lacked the money necessary to pay for secondary school. Due to his impressive academic performance (among other various aspects of the application process), he was chosen as a recipient, and as a result, was able to continue his education.

Emmanuel and other beneficiaries of the Kelimu Trust have devoted three days a week to volunteering at our greenhouse during their school holidays. He tells us that he chose to volunteer both out of appreciation, and as a means of distancing himself from the negative influences of his peers, which he fears could jeopardize his future goals.

The volunteers work half days, between 8:30am and 12:30 pm. Their daily routine typically involves filling sand soil mixed with manure into small polythene bags, sweeping the greenhouse, and during the rainy season, digging trenches to prevent flooding of the jojoba trees. These trees are planted by Wildlife Works and are currently being studied by a team led by botanist Dr. James Inoti to ascertain their sex and help attain the trees’ oil.

Emmanuel waters plants at the WW greenhouse.

At the end of each school holiday, Wildlife works gives each student-volunteer seven trees to plant at home.  Despite the water shortage at his home area in Maungu, Emmanuel has managed to plant fifteen trees and is looking forward to planting more.

Among other hobbies, Emmanuel is particularly passionate about farming, and is a member of the Young Farmers Club at his school. The club has planted various crops on the school property and kept livestock such as cows, sheep and goats. His favorite aspect of the club is treating the cattle when they are unwell. He explained to us the telltale signs that an animal is sick, one example being a tinted color in the cows’ milk that differs from the normal white color. In situations like these, Emmanuel and his peers use various textbooks as guidelines for how to treat the sick animals step-by-step and bring them back to good health.

We enjoy working with bright young students like Emmanuel who represent the future generation of Kenya and who share our passion for protecting local wildlife. He leaves us with the following quote: “Always do your best and never expect perfection.”

To learn more about the Kelimu Trust or to become a contributor, visit their website at: http://kelimutrust.org.

Meet Willy Kanyeki: Greenhouse Supervisor

Willy Kanyeki is a young and energetic employee who has been with Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project for seven years, and our permanent greenhouse supervisor for four. During his childhood, Kanyeki was passionate about planting and watering trees, and hoped to study Environmental Science as a career. Though he could not proceed with his education due to lack of funds, he did not let go of his passion, and was optimistic that he could do something for the environment irrespective of his academic background.

Inspired by what Wildlife Works does to conserve the environment in his home area of Kasigau, Kanyeki decided to volunteer at the our greenhouse back in 2005.  During this time, Kanyeki proved to be a very dedicated and hard-working volunteer, and was eventually employed permanently. After working in the greenhouse for a few years, he was promoted to his current position as greenhouse supervisor.

Along with growing a wide range of produce like mango, lime, avocado, passion fruit, and oranges, Kanyeki and his team regularly buy tree seedlings from local communities to plant and distribute around the project area. Once at the greenhouse, the seedlings are planted in polythene tubes that contain forest soil mixed with manure. Plants are watered daily, and maintained to prevent the plants from attaching themselves to the soil. This proceeds for a period of three months, after which the seedling is six inches long and ready to be distributed and planted.

Kanyeki is most passionate about distributing the trees to local schools and communities.  The trees are assigned to individuals or clubs who monitor their growth and development, and then provide feedback to Kanyeki and his team every four months.

As Kanyeki puts it, the main aim of distributing the trees to schools is to encourage the future generation to conserve the environment. “Trees provide clean air and without trees we will destroy the ozone layer which will cause global warming,” says Kanyeki, with a lot of emphasis.

Willy and the Greenhouse Team

When asked how Wildlife Works has changed his life, he told us that before being employed, he was unable to provide for his family. He is now able to support his family, and pay the school fees for his two children. In addition, he says, “I have learned a lot, in that I can now interact with diverse people from different backgrounds which was very difficult for me before.”

Kanyeki is looking forward to the day when the five communities surrounding the project area will be flourishing with trees, and everyone will be determined to plant at least five trees per week.

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.