Tag Archives: conservation

Kipini Conservancy Invites YOU!!

Do you long to be one with nature? Or do you just need a well deserved  break? Do you want to help in conservation first hand?

Are you a student on gap year? Do you want a unique yet fun and exciting time to volunteer?

Are you a wildlife researcher? Are you in need of a rare and unique ecosystem in which to do your research?

If the answer to all or any of the questions is yes, then Kipini Conservancy would like to invite you to pay us a visit.

While here you can get the chance to interact with the local communities and see how they live, and if you like, spend a day or two and live as they live… The true local experience….  Just look at the picture. Would you not like to experience a traditional african living experience?


If you are more inclined towards aquatic lifestyles and activities, you also have the opportunity to interact (swim, see…) dolphins.

dolphin-wallpaper-31Or if you want, you can be part of the turtle and tortoise monitoring and conservation work that takes place in Kipini.. or just come to view the turtle nesting…

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Or if you are feeling adventurous, you can go for dhow rides in the Indian Ocean with the locals.


The options and activities are boundless.

If this interests you, feel free to get in touch with us, and share in the beauty and wonder that is Kipini Conservancy!!

Forest Use and Conservation of Biodiversity in Witu Forest, Kenya

This project was conducted by the Danish Zoological Society (DZS). DZS was formed in December 2004 by a group of biologists from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark working on a voluntary basis. The mission of DZS is to support and conduct projects and research that contributes to conserving wild animals and their habitats and increases the knowledge of threatened species ecology, distribution and status. DZS has a strong focus on the Eastern Arc Mountains and costal forests of Tanzania and Kenya.

The project was planned in cooperation with Farouk Sherman, protector and initiator of the Kipini Wildlife and Botanical Conservancy (KWBC). The KWBC is centered on the Kipini ranch which boarders the Witu forest and part of the forest extends into the ranch. The Witu forest proper is considered within the wider zone of the conservancy’s interest by the KWBC trust.

Partnership was also established with Nature Kenya and an affiliation was established with Kenya Wildlife Service.

The project was aiming to deal with these issues:

  • Conduct a survey of mammals in Witu forest which included birds. Reptiles, amphibians and insects.
  • Evaluating the intensity of natural resource extraction (originally focusing on bushmeat hunting and non-timber forest products). During the project it was adjusted to include timber as the intensity of extraction the two original forest products appears to be minimal whereas illegal logging in Witu forest was extensive.
  • Training local people as nature guides which included training local people as nature guides for ecotourism and providing them with animal field guides and binoculars. Due to difficulties in identifying local people possessing both the necessary language skills and knowledge about the forest simultaneously it was decided to focus on educating young people on the global importance of conserving biodiversity Seminars was therefore conducted at two primary schools in communities directly bordering the forest. Animal field guides and binoculars were handed over to the schools.

A seminar were similarly conducted with three local interest groups and a lecture was held by a member of a PFM association from the Arabuko-Sokoke forest. Equipment in terms of a tent, mattresses, mosquito nets, binoculars, GPS etc. were handed over to one conservation oriented NGO upon project completion.

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What were the successes?

Three transects of a total length of 5 km were established within the Witu forest proper. Eight camera traps were placed in the forest at animal holes and on animal trails crossing the transects.

A total of 1224 hours of camera trapping were conducted. Transect surveys were conducted and observations of animals were recorded. Bird censuses were conducted on each transect by identifying species from calls and visual observations and by mist netting. Reptiles, amphibians and insects were recorded through random observations and through bucket pitfall trapping. Ten buckets were used for a total of 445 trap hours.  Threatened species and potential indicator species of disturbance and forest quality are identified.

During  surveys all signs of logging, use of fire, bushmeat hunting and harvesting of other non-timber forest products were recorded along the transects. Based on this an index of human disturbance were established. The effect of the disturbance is evaluated.

The species lists, relative mammal densities and index of human disturbance make baseline for monitoring and evaluating trends in the status of the forest and the impact of conservation initiatives and Kenya’s new forest act.

Results are presented in the report “Conservation and Use of Witu Forest, Kenya”.

Seminars were conducted in two primary schools for respectively 3 and 2 classes with approximately 25-30 students each. The importance of ecosystem services derived from the forest were illustrated and discussed. Animal field guides and binoculars were handed over to the schools for use in lectures and projects.

Equipment in terms of a tent, mattresses, mosquito nets, binoculars and a GPS were provided to the NGO Witu Conservation Group. This contributes to build their capacity to conduct patrolling in Witu forest and monitor the status of natural resources in agreement with their mandate.

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.

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.