|Date||15 May 2008|
This project will conduct avifauna surveys at little-known localities in Nyandarua District, Central Province of Kenya at Lake Ol’ Bolossat, Marmanet Forest and the Satima Escarpment that marks the northern slopes of the massive Aberdare Mountains. The broad objective is to carry out bird research in forests, wetlands, scrubland and farmlands, and to empower local youth with skills to guide bird watching tourists and monitor wild bird populations in the future. The area is rich in avifauna being a home to one of Kenya’s eight endemic bird species, Sharpe’s Longclaw, among other species of global conservation concern.
As an area’s native, I am taking it as a backyard challenge to use this research opportunity to recruit and empower about ten local youth with marketable skills and knowledge that can help advance their lives while assisting in biodiversity research, monitoring and conservation. They will be trained in area’s conservation challenges, basic scientific data collection, bird identification, low-impact bird watching techniques, visitor handling and interpretation of cultural and natural history. The area, although in a busy tourist circuit, has unexploited potentials. Spending a monthly weeklong time in a bush camp is perhaps the best way of dispensing and utilising available skills, knowledge and resources (funding). Local communities, once well informed, can play a strong role in environmental conservation. The youth is probably the most strategic group whose impact can have a great multiplier effect in the community at large. Bird watching is also inclining rapidly in Kenya and community-driven eco-tourism is highly encouraged.
Fieldwork opportunities will collect data on birds and other environmental variables for publications. Accumulated and collated past bird records will be used to produce a “Checklist of the Birds of Nyahururu”, a product that can promote and market the area as a bird watching destination. We will mist-net and mark birds with metal rings, do some guided bird walks complimented by opportunistic observations, and hold indoor and outdoor classes to expeditiously deliver and receive knowledge. Offering a hands-on experience in bird identification is a good way to make a long-lasting relationship with nature, hence making of ‘nature’s guardians’. Besides, the project implements one of Lake Ol' Bolossat management plan’s recommendations on education, training and biodiversity research. This will be one of my most enduring and rewarding undertakings in conservation ever!
Read about his previous RSG projects http://www.ruffordsmallgrants.org/rsg/Projects/TheNairobiRingingGroup or for more information contact:
Wamiti during a recent grasslands bird survey on the riparian grasslands and private farms around Lake Ol' Bolossat, the results of which have rendered the site to be listed as Kenya’s 61st Important Bird Area on 26/03/2008.
View of the little-known yet biologically-rich Marmanet Forest Reserve that will serve as a base for training and research on forest bird communities.
Participants receiving bird watching and identification tips from Chege Kariuki (left) of Birdwatching East African and one of Kenya's finest bird guides.
A Hartlaub's Turaco - perhaps the only ringed individual in Kenya in 2008. It has been proposed as the logo of Nyahururu Bird Club (NBC) that the trainees founded in Oct 2008.