There are many conservation projects and groups working in Taita. This article makes an effort to introduce them. Please let me know if you know of conservation work that could be added into this.
Nature Kenya, BirdLife and National museums of Kenya: Saving endemic bird species by reforestation in Taita Hills
The Taita Apalis is one of the rarest birds in the world, with only 150 individuals remaining in the wild.
A project by Nature Kenya (BirdLife Partner), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB – BirdLife in the UK) and National Museums of Kenya, in collaboration with local communities, seeks to give the Taita Apalis and Taita Thrush a lifeline.
Project has already acquired 9.25 hectares of land for habitat restoration. They also have plans for further 21 hectares. As only small forest patches remain mostly at the top of Eastern Arc Mountains in Taita Hills, these hectares are very important addition to habitats of many endangered species.
Read a blog from Birdlife Africa Species on the brink: saving the Endangered Taita birds of Kenya
The Dawida Biodiversity Conservation Group (DaBiCo)
Local environmental groups play a key role in protecting Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) when they become a site support group (SSG).
The Dawida Biodiversity Conservation Group (DaBiCo), formed in 2011, is the SSG for the Taita Hills forest IBA. The group aims to promote community awareness on environmental conservation and alternative livelihoods. It is constituted of five sub-groups operating adjacent to indigenous forest patches, namely: TANACOP (Ngangao forest), Ndumbinyi Plan Unit (Vuria forest), Sufi Self Help Group (Fururu forest), Chawia Environmental Committee (Chawia forest) and Wuchichi Self Help Group (Iyale/Wesu forest). DaBiCo activities include beekeeping, basketry, leatherwork, ecotourism, commercial tree seedlings and fish farming.
DaBiCo manages an eco-resource centre at Ngangao forest. The eco-resource centre supports ecotourism activities and markets nature-based community products. Three tents have been pitched within its compound to provide accommodation for visitors. The group also conducts common bird monitoring in the four forest fragments of Taita Hills and provides data for IBA monitoring.
This eco-resource centre at Ngangao has been a start up place for my visits in Ngangao Forest. It is a great place to stay just by this incredible forest in reasonable price. There are primates, spectacular birds and butterflies in the yard. At night the camp is filled with calls of nocturnal animals.
Visting the Taita Hills? Contact DaBiCo at dabicodawida(at)yahoo.com
or Nathaniel Mwaumba nathmkombolah(at)yahoo.com
Lumo – community owned wildlife conservation area
Lumo is 50 000 hectare conservation area established by local people. Money gathered by tourism in Lumo is distributed to local community. Local community, more than 5000 people, decide how money is distributed and most is used for school fees for families that would not be otherwise able to sent their children to school. Lumo Rangers have worked hard to prevent poaching inside Lumo.
More about Lumo https://lumoconservancy.com
Elephants and Bees research project
Save the Elephants and Bees project is part of the Save the Elephants Human Elephant Coexistence Program, based in Sagalla, Taita area. The project explores the use of Beehive Fences as a natural elephant deterrent, helping protect farmers and farmland. The idea is based on an innovative study using elephants’ fear of African honeybees to help reduce crop-damage and minimize other human-elephant conflict incidences. A win-win addition to a toolbox of deterrent methods, beehive fences help create a social and economic boost to farmers through pollination services and the harvesting of ‘Elephant-friendly honey’.
Taita people of Sagalla next to Tsavo East National Park boundary are community especially vulnerable to human-elephant conflict, with elephants venturing outside the park during the dry season in search of crops. The beehive fence project began in 2009 in Mwakoma village and with increased success and enthusiasm from the local people we expanded to Mwambiti Village in 2015. Total of 306 beehives are protecting 22 farms on the frontline of crop-raiding events.
The beehive fence protected farms in Sagalla have an average of 80% success rate against crop-raiding elephants. The Elephants and Bees Research Center is based in Mwakoma Village, where is project office, the honey processing room and our community training center.
Mwalua Wildlife Trust
Founded by Patrick Kilonzo Mwalua, Mwalua Wildlife Trust works towards sustainable water solutions for human and wildlife communities. Main focus of the conservation organization has been to create water management strategies that will supply water to wildlife in their habitats while promoting human-wildlife coexistence.
These strategies include bringing water with tank trucks during dry season to water holes. This allows elephants and other animals to survive, and keep them in a save area. Thirsty and hungry elephants may cause considerable damage in surrounding farms and also loss of human lives.
These water related problems are particularly severe during dry season. Thirsty and hungry animals are suffering. Droughts have become worse as deforestation has lead to decrease in rainfall. Area is densely populated and there simply is hardly any water for people living in lowlands, and even less to animals.
Mwalua trust also works together with communities to raise awareness about conservation, promote ecological restoration, and increase ethical economic opportunities to protect Kenya’s nature and biodiversity.
Taita Research Station
Taita Research Station, located in Wundanyi, was founded by Professor Petri Pellikka in 2011. However University of Helsinki had done research using old missionary station Hebron, that became Taita research station for years. Taita Research Station is run by Taita Environmental Research and Resource Arc – TERRA.
Throughout the years station has been the base for extensive research. Many of the papers and PhD dissertations are listed here: Taita research
The Stack (Pinkka) provides information on the flora and vegetation of East Africa focusing especially on the biodiversity (both flora and fauna) of Taita Hills and surrounding lowlands. This e-learning environment is produced and maintained by the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences and the Finnish Museum of Natural History. It offers a large database of photos and texts helpful in species identification.
Maktao Youth Foundation
Group of local people who are acting to prevent deterioration of the environment, to mitigate climate change and to protect animals.
Group have planted trees to school yards together with students and school staff. They are also raising environmental awareness by talking to community members and especially young people. They are expanding tree planting to water catchment areas to keep rivers flowing throughout the year.
They are facing challenges in rising financial support.
Contact denniskironge(at)gmail.com and phone +254727633096
Collaboration is key to success in conservation