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1995 Annual Report



ABERDARE NATIONAL PARK & FOREST RESERVE

    Rhino Ark Fencing Project

      The Rhino Ark, a charitable trust set up
      to establish the Aberdare Rhino
      Sanctuary, is in part responsible for the
      thriving population of sixty black rhino
      that inhabits the park today. The trust
      is known for its well-publicized
      fundraising events, particularly the
      annual Rhino Charge, an off-road
      car endurance event. In 1995, the
      Rhino Ark raised Kshs 9 million
      (US$ 163,000) for use on conser-
      vation projects.

      The Rhino Ark has contributed
      money to build a 370-km electric
      fence of KWS design around the
      Aberdare's threatened rain forest. The
      fence will serve the dual purpose of
      protecting wildlife, especially rhino,
      and preventing crop raiding in the
      many firms bordering the park and
      forest reserve. About one-fifth of
      the fence has been completed so far.

    Plentiful elephant and the attraction of night-time game viewing from The Ark and Treetops Lodge make the Aberdares a regular stopover on the northern tourist circuit. Yet the same abundant wildlife that is a major tourist attraction is often a menace to local farmers. The need to maintain a delicate balance in the Aberdares, plus a conservation issue of vital importance, have driven park management and community relations during the last year.

    The coniferous rain forest of the Aberdares is a strategic rainfall catchment area. It supplies the water requirements of the local area, an intensively farmed region, as well as those of metropolitan Nairobi. If the rain forest goes, the water will go-and the forest is already threatened by tree felling, accidental fires and encroachment by farmers, especially those whose irrigation systems draw on the reserve's rivers.

    Even though it faces various threats, the northern forest area, with generally better weather than the surrounding area, is underutilized in some ways. Studies undertaken in 1994-95 identified a suitable area for rhino sanctuary. Black rhino translocated from the densely populated Solio Ranch sanctuary will form the nucleus of the forest sanctuary, complementing the sixty rhino already living in the Aberdare Rhino Sanctuary.

    A special research project as its focus the growing incidence of accidental fire in the forested areas, mostly caused by honey gatherers smoking their beehives. Together with the Community Wildlife Service officer, the research team developed a community-education programme on the hazards of fire and introduced the beekeepers to safer practises.

    To address community and conservation issues, KWS rehabilitated four dams for local villages to safeguard their water supply and maintain it outside the park. KWS also improved access roads to villages in Gakanga, Mgundu, Bellevue and Gatarakwa. In a cost-sharing project, KWS excavated and transported materials and

    the local communities provided the labour needed to construct a pipeline to feed storage tanks outside the park. Villagers will now benefit from an irrigation system that utilizes the natural pressure of water flowing from rivers inside the park.

    Research to define and guide future wildlife management and park development in the Aberdares was another major project of 1994-95. KWS collected ecological survey data on vegetation species, trends, densities and frequencies. Once the fence around the rain forest has been completed, the effects of large herbivores such as elephant, rhino and buffalo on the grassland biomass of the central moorland and lower salient areas will be studied. In addition, a herbarium set op at park headquarters will have the task of preserving and identifying all vegetation species within the park and reserve.

    To increase ans spread tourist numbers, KWS is encouraging visitors to view the breathtaking scenery on the Aberdares moorland, home to rare flower species and Kenya's most spectacular waterfalls. The emphasis is on ecofriendly activities such as camping, walking and fishing the park's trout-filled rivers.

    Access to the moorland from the salient has been secured with construction of a 55-km link road. In addition, all 400 km of the park and forest reserve's roads have been improved for better communication and comfort.


AMBOSELI NATIONAL PARK

Amboseli, home to more than a thousand elephants, was one of Kenya's most visited parks in 1994-95. The park is located within traditional Maasai rangelands bordering Tanzania, with Mount Kilimanjaro standing guard.

    Amboseli's Maasai Cultural Centres

      The Maasai have traded their
      bead craftwork in the Amboseli
      area for many years. As the
      number of sellers attracted to
      the park gates grew, the lack of
      proper outlets and infrastructure
      began to give visitors the impression
      of harassment. KWS invited
      Maasai elders to organize traditional
      bomas, or villages, to attract tourists.
      In this setting, tourists could
      comfortably buy Maasai crafts
      while learning about the
      traditional Maasai lifestyle.
      With KWS assistance, the local
      communities set up and registered
      a Society of Group Ranch
      Members and built three
      craft bomas/cultural centres
      at Engong'u Narok,
      Ol Kilunyieti and Engong'u Kankere.

    Amboseli's arid landscape and dusty appearance are deceptive: Thousands of underground streams fed by runoff from the slopes of the great mountain bisect and feed the park's marshlands, providing year-round water and lush grazing for the elephant and other wild browsers and grazers. In contrast, many of the Maasai group ranches outside the park have no natural surface-water sources. When water and grazing are scarce, herding livestock within the park boundaries is increasingly necessary for the Maasai.

    The rise of poaching in the 1970s decimated Amboseli's elephant herds and halted their traditional migratory patterns. As the threatened animals learned to sty within the safety of the park, they created severe pressures on the ecosystem. On average, elephant consume four hundred pound of mixed fodder each day. The concentration of elephant and successful breeding means that Amboseli is now threatened by the species it has protected for so long.

    With very few natural woodland areas remaining in Amboseli and the park in a critical state, the Kenya Wildlife Service scheduled three workshops to discuss contemporary issues in conservation and management of wildlife and other natural resources, focusing on Amboseli's biodiversity. The workshops brought together a wide variety of interested parties-researchers, wildlife managers, NGOs, donors, local hoteliers, tour operators and landowners-to focus on the various changes in Amboseli and the need for a comprehensive action plan.

    The first workshop, held in Nakuru, addressed the use of research findings in the conservation of biodiversity. The second, held in Amboseli in April 1995, aimed to consolidate the vast amount of data on the dynamics of the Amboseli ecosystem and the views of all involved. The final workshop to clarify and balance scientific and social necessity was held in the Aberdares.

    The main workshop recommendations were to ease elephant congestion in the Amboseli basin by creating space outside the park, providing water outside the park for livestock and minimizing crop destruction in surrounding settlements; to support local landowners in establishing wildlife-related enterprises; and to rehabilitate Amboseli using the exclusion method tested in the park (experiments preventing elephant and giraffe access to certain areas showed complete woodland regeneration in twelve years).

    During the last year, KWS also has addressed many of the community issues highlighted during the Amboseli biodiversity workshops. Denying the Maasai communities access to their traditional rangelands when the park was gazetted created an immense potential for resentment and harassment of wildlife that has not been fully recognized until recently. Water, grazing, education and revenue generation were identified as key areas in which collaboration and support from KWS and selected donors could enhance Maasai-wildlife relations.

    With the initiation of an education bursary programme for secondary school and university study, KWS provided Kshs 3.8 million toward the further education of students selected by local Maasai leaders.

    During the year, KWS rehabilitated three boreholes outside the park at Ilmarba, kitendeu and Naiperra. It also provided equipment and manpower to build several two-tired tanks, supplied from Amboseli's underground streams, to provide humans, livestock and wildlife with water year round.

    In a bid to encourage greater tolerance and understanding of wildlife, KWS recruited more than a hundred game scouts from the local communities. The scouts were trained to gather and classify information about wildlife (in particular, how to monitor the movements and behavioural trends of elephant outside the park) and educated on KWS's goals and plans for Amboseli.


TSAVO EAST NATIONAL PARK

    Orphans Under Study in Tsavo

      Since 1965, sixteen elephant orphaned or
      abandoned because of poaching have been
      successfully returned to the wild in Tsavo
      East National Park. The last four orphans,
      from Daphne Sheldrick's orphanage in
      Nairobi National Park, were reintro-
      duced in April 1995 and are no longer
      dependent on humans. A long-term study
      of the orphans, originally from many parts of
      Kenya, is underway in Tsavo East. The
      objective is to collect detailed data on the
      growth and development of reintroduced,
      unrelated elephant and compare them with data
      on wild elephants of the same age. Behaviour
      examined includes association with wild elephant,
      vegetation choice, play, travel, resting and mud
      wallowing. The hope is that assessment of the
      orphan's behaviour will enhance future
      management decisions.

      Already, differences in play, feeding and resting
      habits have been noted among the orphans.
      Contact of any sort with humans is now severely
      restricted, and interaction with wild elephant is
      given greater passive encouragement.

    Tsavo East is Kenya's largest park. Its 11,747 km2 - 40% of Kenya's entire park system - together with Tsavo West, forms part of the larger Tsavo/Amboseli ecosystem.

    Tsavo East divides roughly into two areas: south of the Galana River, where there is an excellent network of roads and a number of tented camps, lodges and viewing sites, and north of the Galana, a wilderness area that was once a focal point for poaching activity.

    Now that security is no longer a problem in the northern zone, the section between the Galana and Tiva rivers will be opened up for ecotourism activities. (The northenmost zone will remain a natural wilderness.) Ecotourism is in keeping with Tsavo East's noninterventionist management policy, which has kept the park largely untouched. When management action must be taken, it reflects the core KWS strategy: wildlife protection and enhancement of local community relations.

    Ecotourism is as much about attitude as it is about resources, and KWS is keen to promote noninvasive, environmentally friendly tourist activities such as camping and walking safaris that encourage visitor's interest in the entire ecosystem instead of a few animal species.

    In the last year, the main areas of active management were introduction and protection of rhino and elephant; security and antipoaching; ecotourism development, supported by road and vehicle maintenance; reduction of human-wildlife conflict; community education; and water projects. A particularly strong emphasis in 1994-95 was on minimizing wildlife harassment and preventing soil erosion and plant damage caused by off-road driving. A new public campsite, Satan Mkwanju, was built at the southeastern end of the park.

    In the area of community relations, the local Community Wildlife Service office, supported by Tsavo wardens and rangers, initiated a number of successful activities to minimize human-wildlife conflict and educate local communities about the value of wildlife in the parks.

IKANGA COMMUNITY WATER PROJECT

    Tsavo East has one permanent source of water: the Galana River. Everyday the women and children of Ikanga village in Taita-Taveta District have had to walk 12 km to the river and back (a three-hour round trip) carrying water for cooking, drinking and washing. Harassment of people and livestock by wildlife, crop raiding and the potential for lion attacks made the journey dangerous as well as long.

    The Community Wildlife Service identified the situation in Ikanga and other communities as critical to management of human-wildlife conflict in the park. One solution was to pipe water from a storage tank to villages along the western border of the park. By making encroachment into the park for water collection and livestock grazing less attractive, CWS hopes to reduce the potential for conflict.

    In March 1995, KWS committed Kshs 1.6 million to the project and began to build a pipeline linking a rainfall catchment tank with twelve standpipes for the communities along the western border of the park. The project, now complete, proved to be a successful collaboration. KWS funded the purchase of pipes and supervised construction labour to transport materials, dig trenches and build the tank.

    Fencing, however, proved to be the only option that would restore community confidence and keep wildlife away from the small farms along the western border of the park. From Ndi to Ndare, 30 km of electric fencing is under construction to exclude rhino, buffalo, elephant and lion, with 7 km already in place. The community has come forward to provide the unskilled labour needed to build the fence under KWS supervision.

    To cement relations and share responsibility for these solutions, KWS set up wildlife management committees at sublocation level to provide liaison points with the community. Ad hoc meetings are held to respond to any incidents of human-wildlife conflict; report on breakages, fires and vandalism; and arrange for vegetation clearance along the fenceline.

VOI HEALTH PROJECT

    In 1992, the Kaleoleni community raised money from harambees for a small clinic to be housed in an old Ministry for Works building. By 1994, the Ndovu Clinic was very dilapidated, and money for its upkeep had run out. Community elders approached KWS for renovation assistance and to create a dispensary. KWS agreed and, together with Tusk Force, which donated Kshs 1.2 million, rehabilitated the building.

    The clinic and new dispensary will offer immunizations, dressings, drugs, family planning and children's preventative healthcare and education for about 5,700 people. It will also serve travellers on the main Mombasa/Nairobi highway, which passes through Voi, who may be in need of emergency assistance. KWS has applied on behalf of the community for further funding to stock drugs and equipment, put in electricity and install a secure perimeter fence. The dispensary will open early 1996.

ANTIPOACHING SUCCESS

    In Tsavo East and West, as in Amboseli, the elephant has been the main agent of change. In the 1960s, 40,000 elephant roamed the Tsavo parks and their dispersal areas until drought and poaching cut their numbers dramatically. By 1970, their elephant population had been halved to 21,000. Since the population within the parks has declined by 75% and the population outside by 87%. By 1988, elephant numbers in the area were at an all-time low of 5,000, with poachers slaughtering two animals a day. Rhino too were all but eradicated during this period.

    Since 1990, when the Antipoaching Protection Unit went to work in Tsavo, the menace has diminished. According to a July 1995 aerial count, the Tsavos (with a carrying capacity of 30,000) are now home to 7,990 elephant, indicating an increase in numbers of approximately 5% a year. Rhino too have increased, from 7 in 1994 to 13 in 1995, boosted by the successful introduction of black rhino from Nairobi National Park and Solio Ranch.


NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK

Nairobi National Park, gazetted in December 1946, is Kenya's oldest park and the only game park in the world that neighbours a capital city. It also contains Kenya's most successful black rhino sanctuary.

    As a dry-season grazing location, Nairobi National Park is largely dominated by migratory species. The number of eland, zebra, wildebeest and Coke's hartebeest peaks during October, with a secondary peak in February. Sixty-three rhino were living in the park at last count, and births were recorded in April and June of 1995. Lion and Cheetah are sighted regularly and leopard less frequently. The populations of mixed grazers (Grant's gazelle, Thomson's gazelle, warthog and impala), continued bimonthly, are generally high throughout the year. Other year-round residents include ostrich, buffalo and small numbers of eland and hartebeest.

    With one of the traditional migratory corridors across the Kapiti and Embakasi plains closed by industrialization as far as Thika and Ol Donyo Sabuk, wildlife dispersal now occurs mainly to the west of park into Kajiado and Kitengela and to the south toward Konza. Not coincidentally, zebra and wildebeest were at the lowest density ever recorded in the park in June 1994.

    Community involvement and sympathetic management of the ecosystem is especially important if the remaining migratory corridors leading to Nairobi National Park are to be sustained. For this reason, park management participated in a rural appraisal scheme to find out how the communities in Kitengela District, which absorb much of the impact of the yearly migrations, feel about the park and wildlife. Issues that came to light were the need for living quarters for teachers, better school facilities and compensation for the loss of a cattle dip when the park was extended in 1976.

    KWS-sponsored community-improvement projects in 1994-95 included construction of houses at Ereti and Oloosirkon primary schools, where teachers had been walking up to 20 km to and from work each day, with consequent poor results. Four classrooms were completed at Sholinge Primary School, where funds the community had raised in numerous harambees had run out with the school half finished. At Embakasi Primary School, on the park border, KWS rehabilitated old facilities and constructed two new classrooms, and it built a new cattle dip outside park boundaries for the Embakasi/kitengela community.

    Nairobi is an all-weather park, which means that it is accessible to saloon cars throughout the year. Visitor numbers increased in 1994-95 to 166,455, compared to 131,713 the previous year. Vehicle numbers were up to 46,524 from 43,164.

    Tourism development projects were key in 1994-95. The Maasai, Banda and Langata gates were redeveloped for better efficiency and to provide a more welcoming entrance to the park. The Hippo pools nature trail was targeted for improvements to ranger accommodation and visitor facilities. New signposts with clear information were constructed in a style complementary to the environment. A comprehensive grading and murram resurfacing programme was completed by contractors in May 1995. New vehicles and equipment were received under the JICA project and well maintained throughout the year. The World Bank donated Kshs 3,012,000 for the rehabilitation of six staff houses, completed by KWS Technical Services in June 1995.

    Nairobi National Park's golden anniversary will be celebrated in 1996-97 with events countrywide.


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