Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Letter from Our Head Ranger

ELEPHANT POACHING STILL HIGH

Elephant and rhino poaching has recently been declared a “national disaster” in Kenya by former head of Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) Richard Leakey. The magnitude of poaching has reached terrifying levels and poachers are  operating with outrageous impunity, backed up by an extraordinary network of organized crime.

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Unfortunately the Kasigau Corridor has not been immune from this increase in elephant poaching. Whilst the year started relatively calmly, March and April saw a significant rise in poaching incidents, totaling 30 elephants by mid May. The worst incident to date saw six elephants shot dead on Dawida Ranch, four of which were youngsters not bearing tusks. A further three elephants were lost on Amaka Ranch in March. This indicates the indiscriminate nature of killing that the poachers engage in, as well as the ruthlessness of the individuals involved.

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.27.03 AMTo combat this, Wildlife Works has been working closely with KWS and other official organizations to tighten security in the area. We have increased patrols and security measurements significantly. In particular, we have drastically increased aerial surveillance throughout the project area thanks to the support of an additional aircraft pilot. Weather permitting, Keith Hellyer, a Canadian conservationist, has been lending his time and the use of a gyrocopter to patrol the 200,000 ha large project area and beyond at least twice a day. This helps the security team to locate illegal activities, carcasses or charcoal camps early on and respond accordingly.

Furthermore, Wildlife Works has also employed six additional wildlife rangers from the surrounding communities in order to increase manpower. The new recruits have already been orientated with Wildlife Works’ security operations and they have all been posted to the various ranger camps where they are taking up their patrol and surveillance responsibilities. Wildlife Works continues to be committed to the protection of wildlife and will do everything in its power to prevent the further slaughter of these majestic animals.

A LETTER TO OUR COMMUNITY FROM OUR HEAD RANGER, ERIC SAGWE

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Dear Readers,

I wish to express my personal and sincere gratitude to all of you who have helped make the Kasigau Phase I and II REDD+ Project a success for the past few years! Despite the challenges we are facing inside the project area, especially regarding a recent escalation in poaching incidents, my ranger teams are working tirelessly with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to ensure the culprits involved are caught and remain in police custody, so that justice can be served. In the first five months of 2014 alone, we have lost 30 elephants to poaching. Whilst this is a shocking figure, let me assure you that we are using every measure, in conjunction with KWS teams operating in various ranches, to ensure that we have intensified security in terms of patrolling and monitoring.

I still admire our ‘no arms’ policy, since it serves to deter violent confrontation. I wish also to bring to your attention that elephant poaching is increasingly carried out using sophisticated weapons, as well as poisoned arrows. I kindly urge community members to share with us any information, however seemingly small, which they might have regarding the menace so that we can channel it into the relevant authorities, especially KWS.

I wish to honorably recognize all members of the community who have responded to our call to protect our wildlife and surrounding environment. As a result, we have witnessed a drastic reduction in charcoal burning, with the exception of a few ranches in the Project Area. Whilst some cases remain unreported, I would like to highlight that community feedback is happening more and more with assistance from the Wildlife Works community outreach team. I encourage all community members to help in the protection of the environment and wildlife, which is possible through our hotline: +254 (0) 727 957 482.

I would like to take this opportunity to salute all members of the community for their effort in helping us to achieve our goals. Conservation is for us all, it does not belong to only one party, and requires the involvement of everyone. Let us keep our heritage safe for the future; our beautiful environment is a valuable resource, which must be preserved.

I am also happy to report that we have increased our ranger force and now number approximately 120 wildlife rangers, all of whom are patrolling the project area on a daily basis. Around twelve of these are operating on the hills and land corridors. Three quarters of my ranger team are members of the community who were selected during the 2010/2011 recruitment exercise. I understand that not everyone who was present at this selection was recruited, and I would like to inform community members that there will be further opportunities for employment following the expansion of the carbon project. Being part of the ranger team is a highly sought after position however, and realistically we are not able to offer positions to all young applicants. Our recruitment process offers a fair way to select individuals who are suitable for this physically and psychologically demanding work.

Thank you all,

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A Grand Leap Forward for the Chyulu Hills Redd+ Project

Chyulu Hills REDD+ WIldlife Works Project

Wildlife Works has done it again! We completed yet another Project Design Document, for the new proposed REDD+ project in the Chyulu Hills!

The Chyulu Hills REDD+ Project (CHRP) is a multi-partner initiative designed to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, restore biodiversity and create alternative livelihoods under the United Nation scheme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). It is located in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem, southeastern Kenya and stretches over an area of 410,533.84 ha. Its main geographic feature is the volcanic Chyulu Hills mountain range, from which the project derives its name.

Chyulu Hills

Chyulu Hills

The Project Area comprises a great diversity of ecosystems, ranging from montane cloud forests to grassland savannah. A large variety of charismatic wildlife roams these landscapes, including populations of the increasingly threatened African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and the critically endangered Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis). This wildlife has been living alongside traditional communities for generations. The Chyulu Hills also present a locally and regionally important water tower, which provides much of the surrounding landscape, as well as the coastal city of Mombasa, with a water source. This is just one example of the many ecosystem services the Chyulu Hill area performs.

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The black rhino, a critically endangered species, lives in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. Image captured by a camera trap from Big Life Foundation.

However, the area is under threat from being converted to a non-forest state due to unplanned agricultural expansion and unsustainable extractive practices such as charcoal burning and the collection of wood to make cultural artifacts. A major goal of the Project therefore, is to protect this vitally important ecosystem by providing economically viable and sustainable alternatives to its destruction.

The CHRP aims to generate benefits in the areas of climate, community and biodiversity under both the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) standards. Its specific climate related goals are to prevent the emission of 28,122,572 t CO2e over the project’s 30 year crediting period by stopping deforestation, forest degradation and grassland conversion. This will be achieved largely by employing forest rangers, bolstering employee motivation, creating alternative income and employment opportunities, and supporting stricter environmental law enforcement. Furthermore, it aspires to restore degraded forest and grassland areas, which will increase the quantity of sequestered carbon from woody biomass and soil. The establishment of tree nurseries, reforestation programs and other afforestation/reforestation (A/R) efforts are examples of some initiatives, which will be undertaken to this end.

Community outreach. Photo by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

Community outreach. Photo by Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust

The Project will also generate substantial community and biodiversity co-benefits. New and sustainable livelihood opportunities, such as direct employment, alternative income generating activities (IGAs) and initiatives to stimulate investment in businesses will be designed to reduce pressure on the environment while significantly increasing community well-being. Additional programs will address food security, improve health and education facilities, as well as raise environmental awareness. Biodiversity co-benefits will be achieved through greater protection of the ecosystem predominantly by means of increased security, improved monitoring and bolstering wildlife-compensation schemes.

Conservation education at Chyulu Hills.

Conservation education at Chyulu Hills.

The CHRP’s uniqueness lies in its eight constituent partners, each of which contributes specific and invaluable expertise. Whilst some partners have long-standing, ground-based operations within the landscape, other partners offer more technical, political and governance expertise. The eight constituent partners include: Big Life Foundation, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International and Wildlife Works. Together with the traditional landowners, this CHRP implementation team presents an exceptionally strong partnership, which will ensure the successful execution of the project’s objectives.

Wildlife Works completed the Project Design Document in June 2014, which is now open for public comments on the CCB website until 27th of July. All comments, positive remarks, constructive criticism or simply suggestions, are welcome.

Please visit: http://www.climate-standards.org/2014/06/25/chyulu-hills-redd-project/.

Wildlife Works Marks World Environmental Day With Town Clean Up and Climate Change Education

At this year’s World Environment Day, some of our employees at the Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project put down their tools and left the offices to commemorate the day with the community at Kamtonga, a small village located in Mwatate about 50 kilometers from our station. Those who attended the event included the head community Relations Officer, Mr. Laurian Lenjo, Mrs. Emily Mwawasi and Joseph Mwakima (both working in community relations), and the agribusiness manager, Mr. George Maina.

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Community members and pupils gather at the Kamtonga Primary School for commemoration of World Environment Day.

From the moment we arrived in Kamtonga, it was very clear that we could not have chosen a better place to commemorate the 2014 World Environment Day. The Mwatate community has been one of our major partners in the implementation of Phase II of the REDD programme, and we found an eager audience waiting to mark the day that was themed, Raise your Voices Not the Sea Levels. Young school pupils and aged grandparents sat side by side with the youth.

As with every other occasion we have to interact with the community around us, we took the opportunity to pass on the conservation message that we have been preaching since we started operations in the Kasigau region 17 years ago.  The theme for this event was to educate the audience about rising sea levels.

From the puzzled look on many faces, it was clear that not many had heard about the rising sea levels but when one of the speakers mentioned the possibility of Mombasa being submerged in the next 20 years, any lingering doubts started to vanish.

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Wildlife Works Rangers lead the procession to the communal cleaning of Kamtonga Primary School.

Joseph Mwakima gave a concise explanation of the rising sea levels phenomena to an audience that was very eager to listen. Laurian backed it up by explaining how everyone has a role to play in ensuring that we mitigate such an occurrence. Other speakers also echoed the same concerns.

Some of the other issues that were addressed at the event included the persistent issue of child labor in Kamtonga which draws the majority of its income from sisal farming, mining of precious stones and other supporting businesses. Pupils from the Kamtonga Primary School recited heartrending poems about how their peers are vulnerably recruited into the mines and sisal plantations and end up dropping out of school. Our community outreach team members have been doing in-school outreach campaigns to educate students on their rights. Several government administrators, including the town’s chief have made promises to crackdown on any businessperson who were found abusing children’s rights.

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School kids reciting a poem about the Child labour.

After these important discussions, everyone armed themselves with latex gloves and joined in a communal cleanup of the small Kamtonga town. Plastic bottles and bags that littered the town were collected for appropriate disposal.

The event hit a climax with the planting of more than 100 trees in Kamtonga Primary School. The Wildlife Works greenhouse supplied all the tree seedlings for free. 30 trees were planted by the various guests in attendance and assigned to pupils who will be taking care of them. 70 tree saplings were left to be planted by the pupils and teachers later on. We have already received confirmation from the headmaster that the remaining seventy trees have been planted and are thriving!

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Pupils of Kamtoga Primary School set a heap of plastic bags and other debris on fire.

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From left: Community Relations Manager Laurian Lenjo, Head Ranger Eric Sagwe and Community Relations Associate Joseph Mwakima join the community cleanup exercise at Kamtonga Town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are grateful for the Kamtonga Community for hosting us during this special day and for giving us an audience. If we can all take action now, we can effectively mitigate the effects of climate change. It all starts with you and me, and the Kamtonga community!

The chief with the school kids planting a tree around the school compound during the event.

The chief with the school kids planting a tree around the school compound during the event.

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.