Elephant Collaring Program in Kipini

In February of this year, Save the Elephants (STE), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kibodo Trust and Kipini Conservancyembarked on a joint effort to put GPS collars on the elephants along the north coast of Kenya, north of Lamu and along the Tana River.  This project aimed at increasing on the already existing knowledge on the remnants of elephants in this biological hotspot. The numbers of coastal elephants is unknown, but we estimate they may be less than a thousand. They may also be part of overall elephant population migrating in the broader coastal and inland area.The vastness of the area in combination with the low estimated number of elephants in the areas, made location of target individuals difficult. In addition, the dense vegetation made spotting very hard. Therefore only two of the three project collars were deployed and none of the additional collars offered by Save the Elephants were used. No fresh signs of elephants were detected in the main area of Dodori and Boni forest and collaring efforts was therefore concentrated within the three other selected areas. Two of the three additional collars showed signs of potential problems with battery voltage and need to be properly tested before any potential future deployment.Two collars were successfully deployed on elephants, one in Kipini Conservancy and one by the Tana River Delta. The collars were deployed in areas selected prior to the operation although none were deployed in the core area due to no current signs of elephants in this area. It is likely that the elephants normally residing in these areas have migrated away due to the current drought and drying of the majority of water sources Data is now streaming in to the STE server and is accessible for project partners. This constantly updated information is especially valuable for KWS as the near real time data can be used on a daily basis for security and operational planning in the area.The day to day monitoring of elephant movements will increase security and help anti poaching efforts. Additionally the movement data will provide information about connectivity between habitat segments as well as help raise awareness about the unique coastal ecosystem.The collaring operation was a collaboration involving Save the Elephants and KWS with further input from the Kibodo Trust, and could not have been achieved without the availability of the helicopter provided by Halvor Astrup on site, including the donation of three hours flying time. Easy access to the data is provided through Google Earth from the server operated by STE, and funded by Safaricom Foundation.It was a difficult exercise as the number of elephants in the area was low. And due to the vegetation, aerial spotting also proved difficult. There were a total of 3 collars that were to be used in this exercise. Only 2 managed to be deployed. One of the collars was deployed in Kipini while the other was deployed in the Tana River Delta area. Data on the movements and locations of these elephants is available on the Save the Elephants server and is accessible for all project partners.This exercise has resulted in the production of near real time data on the movements and locations of elephants in the area.

Bill the Buffalo

When you hear of a buffalo, you think and picture… well this!You imagine and see in your mind a ferocious destroyer of man. A wild untamable beast.The African BuffaloAffalo or Cape Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is a large African bovid. It is up to 1.7 meters high, 3.4 meters long. Savannah type buffaloes weigh 500-900 kg, with only males, normally larger than females, reaching the upper weight range. Known as one of the “big five” or “Black Death” in Africa, the African Buffalo is widely regarded as a very dangerous animal, as it gores and kills over 200 people every year. Buffalo are sometimes reported to kill more people in Africa than any other animal, although the same claim is sometimes made of Hippopotami, or Crocodiles. Buffalo are notorious among big game hunters as very dangerous animals, with wounded animals reported to ambush and attack pursuers.So if someone were to tell you that their exist a tame and human friendly AFRICAN buffalo, you would probably laugh your head off. If you are of the disposition of not being easily amused, you may think of the asian buffalo, used more often than not the same way cattle are used.This brings me to the story of Bill the buffalo. Bill is an african buffalo. Descendant of one of the most vicious herbivores on Gods green earth. But Bill, unlike most other buffalos, is different.No he does not have horns growing out of his ears, and he does not have 3 tails. Nor does he have super animal abilities.Bill is domesticated. Yes, you read (or if the story is being narrated to you, you heard) correctly. Bill is a domesticated African or Cape Buffalo. For those who know buffalos well, this is a hard story to believe. But read on. Then tell me if you believe me or not.Meet Bill!Please note that this is not a computer generated image, nor is it a picture taken with a special wide angle lens camera.  Bill is the buffalo i told you about. He is domesticated.In 2006, Bill was brought to us in Kipini as an orphan from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). At Bills age it would have signing his death warrant if he was introduced directly into the wild. So we raised him and kept him healthy with the aim of releasing him into the world eventually. A year or so later, when Bill had put on some weight (enough to make sure he did not get bullied by his fellows), we made the first attempt to introduce Bill to his own kind. Initially it looked like the herd was and would welcome Bill to join their ranks.Unfortunately for Bill, the herd did not feel he was buffalo enough. They hence chased him away. For the brief period he was among the herd, he was a bit out of place.He looked like a duck among pigeons.So having being rejected by his kind, we took him back in.We made another attempt a few months later. sadly, the herd had the same leadership. Bill was still not welcome.Having gotten rejected by his kindred, we decided to keep Bill with us. Having spent all that time with us, we come to realize something very remarkable. Apparently, Bill did not want to leave. He had become so used to being around us, that we practically became his family.Remember the introductory picture of the buffalo? Did you notice how far the camera man was?Take a look at this one.How many of you brave souls out there, would walk up to any one of these and shakes its hands… or hoof for that matter?Unless you are being paid HUGE amounts of money, or are immortal, you may consider it. But like i said earlier, Bill is special. Not only is not as violent as his fellow species, but Bill actually knows ever single person on the conservancy by smell. And as far as we can remember, he has never attacked a single soul!!!This is the pictorial of Bill the Buffalo…NOTE: This is real… 🙂

Support Kipini Conservancy

Do you love nature? Do you love conservation of said nature? Would you like to be part of the wonderful work being done in Conservation around the world?Kipini Conservancy invites you to support the work it is doing in the conservation of nature and natural resources. Located along the coast ofKenya, Kipini offers a unique mix of wilderness and a taste of the coast. Kipini is simply beautiful, and being in Kenya, a country endowed with incredibly diverse landscapes and unique geographical features all teeming with wildlife and home to more than 50 cultural communities, it is indeed a luxury to be experienced by the most deserving residents. Kipini is uniquely positioned between marine, forest, woodland andgrassland ecosystems. There are white sandy beaches, ancient sand dunes as well as seasonal and permanent wetlands and lakes most of it undisturbed and rich in plant diversity.Situated at the northern end of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests biodiversity hotspot, the KWBC area of interest is embedded in a zone of internationally recognised importance to a rich assembly of globally threatenedplants and animals. KWBC Nairobi Ranch shares direct boundaries with two acknowledged sites of importance to the hotspot, and five other important hotspot sites are present within the larger zone of KWBC interest. 18% of large mammal species observed or expected in the Kipini area alone are considered threatened according to IUCN 2003 Red list criteria KWBC controls relatively large blocks of unspoilt coastal habitats in a natural mosaic at Nairobi Ranch.But to run and keep such a beautiful and unique environment intact, work is needed.Kipini currently employs 16 scouts whose job it is to make sure the conservancy is kept clean, free of poachers, and running.These scouts require uniforms, transport, and utilities to enhance their productivity and efficiency. Each scouts has a weekly allowance of $50 thats caters for feeding and basic expensesIf you would like to assist the conservancy in its efforts, feel free to donate whatever you can to aid in this work.The conservancy requires at present a motorcycle to aid in patrols, two way radios for the staff to enhance and improve communication, tents and uniports for the scouts to be able to monitor and patrol varying places in the conservancy.A very generous donor, who would like to remain anonymous has graciously offered to provide the conservancy with fuel for the vehicles and transport for a whole month.What will you get in return for your generous contribution?Apart from being a direct contributor to the conservation of nature and natural resources, you will be free to visit the Conservancy at any time of your choosing and enjoy the unique environment for yourself.Your donation could be monetary or it could also be in kind. Whatever you are willing and able to donate will be greatly appreciated.

MASSIVE ILLEGAL LOGGING; ENCROATCHMENT OF WITU FOREST RESERVE AND KIPINI CONSERVANCY

 

 

Hundreds of thousands of exotic and indigenous trees have been destroyed in the past few months by illegal loggers in Tana River.This activity poses a significant threat to the biodiversity in Tana River and the conservation activities being spearheaded by the Kipini Wildlife Conservancy and Botanical Conservancy Trust [KWBCT].

 At stake is the plant species Euphorbia Tanaensis, an exotic indigenous tree which is among the nine species of tree found in the 42 sq km expansive Witu Forest Reserve and Kipini Conservancy [Nairobi Ranch]. The tree is listed by IUCN 2002 Red list of threatened species and found in Witu Forest Reserve, bordering the Kipini Conservancy. At the same time the only Elephant migratory corridor that continues to exist in East African Coast, faces a threat owing to the ever increasing ecological degradations and new encroachment.Investigations done have revealed that the wanton destruction of the indigenous and exotic trees has been occasioned by the ever increasing demand for timber by the population living on the edge of the Witu Forest Reserve and within part of the Kipini Conservancy, which has been earmarked for conservation.The entire Nairobi Ranch has been set aside for the conservation of Wildlife and Botanical plants, Wetland and Sand dunes.Recent photographs taken reveal that the individuals behind the indiscriminate logging have been targeting indigenous trees which are known for hard wood.  Further, it is emerging that trees which have not even attained maturity stage are also being cut down thus undermining the replenishing process of the forest cover in the area.The latest developments have caused a fury among environmentalists in the areas who are calling on the Government and other stake holders to intervene.Already massive destructions of forest cover along the Mt Kenya, Aberdare, Mau Narok, Ngong Hills is on record as being responsible for the reduction of the flow of water in the two major rivers that trace their origins from the highlands and eventually snakes their way through the semi arid to the Indian Ocean.A recent tour of Witu, in Lamu District in Coast region has an earth a syndicate where the beneficiaries of massive logging are said to be selling the by-products within the area or at times in the neighbouring district.These destructive activities one keen observer noted will have serious environmental implications pretty soon. “No doubt these destructive activities will have resultant ecological effects very soon”. Environmentalists and conservationists in the area have cautioned that destruction of the forest cover would impact adversely on the Riverine Ecosystem along the Tana Delta, known to support two species of monkeys facing extinction apart from other ecological systems.Further, it is imperative to note that the forest cover has a direct linkage to the rainfall pattern in the area, which supports Agriculture, the main bread earn for many villagers in the area. The destruction of the forest cover now puts in the balance the Kipin wildlife and botanical conservancy activities in the Tana River that acts as a vital catalyst towards fulfilling international recognized conservation objectives for threatened Coast plants and ecosystem.Witu Forest Reserve and part of the forest cover that extended beyond the reserve is a designated site of critical importance within the globally important Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests hotspots, identified by the Conservation International and supported by the Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund [CEPF].Environmentalists and conservationists have for a while been pushing for the protection of all forest cover within the Witu Forest Reserve and it’s environs owing to the fact that it fall within the Elephants Migratory Corridor extending to Kipini  Conservancy. Adverse effects on the cover would result in the elephants changing their lifetime journey along the Coastal ecological system that has tourism related economical benefit for the indigenous.

Kipini Conservancy: Whats it about?

 

 Nairobi Ranch – Kipini is simply beautiful, and being in Kenya, a country endowed with incredibly diverse landscapes and unique geographical features all teeming with wildlife and home to more than 50 cultural communities, it is indeed a luxury to be experienced by the most deserving residents. Kipini is uniquely positioned between marine, forest, woodland and grassland ecosystems. There are white sandy beaches, ancient sand dunes as well as seasonal and permanent wetlands and lakes most of it undisturbed and rich in plant diversity.Situated at the northern end of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests biodiversity hotspot, the KWBC area of interest is embedded in a zone of internationally recognised importance to a rich assembly of globally threatened plants and animals. KWBC Nairobi Ranch shares direct boundaries with two acknowledged sites of importance to the hotspot, and five other important hotspot sites are present within the larger zone of KWBC interest. 18% of large mammal species observed or expected in the Kipini area alone are considered threatened according to IUCN 2003 Red list criteria KWBC controls relatively large blocks of unspoilt coastal habitats in a natural mosaic at Nairobi Ranch. In association with Witu forest, the relative size of the blocks gives enhanced value, providing refuges for populations against the reduced survival probabilities associated with habitat fragmentation; a predominant effect caused by rapid development through the great majority of Kenyan coastal habitats.Strategically Nairobi Ranch lies at a fulcrum, uniting its own resources with four additional high importance habitats on its immediate boundaries; the Tana River estuary, Lake Kenyatta, and Witu Forest, and a continuum across semi-active cattle ranches northward through the heart of the coastal topi range to the drier interior habitats that mark the range of the hirola.Terrestrial diversityEndangered species of animals such as Ader’s Duiker, the Cheetah, the intriguing African Wild Dog or “painted wolf” as well as the rare coastal topi are found in Kipini. Further inland the rare and endemic Tana Red Colobus and the Tana Crested Mangabey will be found in the gallery forests flanking the Tana River.In addition, there are elephant, African buffalo, hippo, reticulated giraffe, Burchell’s zebra, waterbuck, lesser kudu, gerenuk, desert warthog and eland. These large mammals, numbering an estimated 50,000 animals, are accompanied by a large number of smaller animals such as marsh mongoose, vervets, black and white colobus and sykes monkeys as well as a plethora of amphibians and reptiles.The unique and beautiful Hirola Antelope, only found in its Natural environment in Ijara to the north and west of Kipini is a sight to behold. Kipini has secured the approval of the Kenya Wildlife Service – the government agency charged with wildlife management – to embark on a translocation of this endemic antelope into the Conservancy as a means of re-establishing populations to areas where they once thrived.Marine lifeThe marine ecosystem is a recognized Global 2000 ecoregion supporting a great diversity of plants and animals. The coral reef at Kipini is rich with more than 1,000 species of coral fish and about 200 distinct species of coral all available for snorkeling and scuba diving. Turtles nest here each year and several species of whales and dolphins – including the globally threatened dugong – are regular visitors.Cultural diversityThe Kenya coast is home to some the most intriguing cultures in the world. From the ancient Giriama and Mijikenda culture and their sacred Kaya forests to the cultures of the Pokomo and the Orma who reside in the Tana Delta. From the rich Swahili culture, a mixture of Arab and indigenous African cultures, to the remnants of Portuguese cultural structures and to ruins of ancient cultures yet to be studied. There is also Lamu – a living museum and world heritage site – where the streets are narrow and donkeys are the predominant means of transport; its architecture centuries old.

The History of Kipini Conservancy

The Kipini Wildlife and Botanical Conservancy (KWBC) was established in 2003 and registered in January 2004, following the signing of a management agreement between Nairobi Ranching Ltd and the Kipini Wildlife and Botanical Conservancy Trust (KWBCT). The objective of the KWBC is to work with partners to provide a new initiative in coastal land use, conservation and community development.The KWBC mainly comprises Nairobi Ranch, in Lamu District, but has also identified a wider zone of interest in surrounding areas still covered with natural vegetation to ensure harmonized conservation approaches across the entire region. Ultimately this will include the adjacent marine ecosystems, notably the adjacent area proposed (but not yet established) as the Ras Tenewi Marine National Reserve.Nairobi Ranch was purchased by the Sherman family (known as Swaleh Nguru family) in 1979 to develop cattle ranching interests. However severe problems with livestock disease (trypansomiasis) as well as lions and some banditry made the cattle operation difficult. Since the conservation establishment, the Sherman family donated its own land for the establishment for the conservancy. The EU has provided funding for infrastructure development, community development, and conservancy maintenance. The Finnish Government provided funding for the conservancy to carry out a detailed and in depth large mammal movement as per the attached documentation.Some of the land was sold back to the government for resettlement of people in the late 1980s. The family was then looking at alternative uses for the ranch and realized that one of the best options is to develop the natural potential of the land. Development of the ranch is necessary as Kenya can ill afford idle land but in this case it is imperative that this is undertaken with considerable care ensuring adequate conservation of the area. The model of much of the rest of the coastline is not proving to be optimal, which puts considerable pressure on new initiatives to rethink the approach on land use.The geographic and ecological position of KWBC Nairobi Ranch is special at both a local scale and in the larger context of coastal east Africa. At the local scale, areas of natural vegetation at the coast present an important opportunity for sensitive integration of conservation and development. Almost uniquely along the north Kenya coast, the former cattle ranch represents a corridor of un-spoilt and varied natural habitats linking the coastline to the hinterland. This creates an important natural refuge for animals and plants, strategically linking the coast with established tourism centers of Lamu and the underdeveloped hinterland between the Tana River and Somali border.At the larger scale KWBC Nairobi Ranch is situated at the northern end of the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests hotspot (Myers, Burgess & Lovett 1999). The hotspot comprises a patchwork of forests at varying altitudes, embedded in grasslands, savannah woodlands and bush lands. The whole zone extends through a block of eastern Tanzania but also includes the entire coastal margin of Kenya. The hotspot is defined by the ranges of 1400 species of endemic plants and at least 130 species of endemic animals, coupled with the fact that forest habitats supporting them are believed to have suffered a greater than 75% decline in area. This has been attributed to clearance for agricultural use, logging, charcoal burning and wildfires. Key sites within the hotspot have been identified on the basis of the number of globally threatened species present. The seven northernmost sites in the hotspot all fall within the KWBC zone of interest.

Welcome to Kipini Conservancy Blog page

Dear Reader,Thank you for visiting the Kipini Conservancy blog. Feel free to comment and contribute to articles that you find or issues you may have interest in.Hope to engage in upbuilding and mutually beneficial discussions as time goes on.Again, welcome to the Kipini Conservancy Blog Page.Kind Regards,Management.