Construction of the Mau Eburu comprehensive electrified wildlife fence commenced on the morning of Wednesday 20 March 2013 at Eburru location, with the placement of the first post at the fire watchtower on Ngobobo Hill. The first post was placed by Les Baillie, Executive Director of MPESA Foundation, who was the chief guest at this event. Key guests attending this event included Rhino Ark Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Karanja, Kenya Forest Service County Forest Coordinator (Nakuru), Samuel Mukundi, Warden Muteru Njau-ini, representing Kenya Wildlife Service Assistant Director, Central Rift, and Chairman of Eburu Community Forest Association, James Kiruy, among others.
The start of fence construction marks a major milestone in the conservation of the 8,715.3 hectare Eburu Forest Reserve. The forest, managed by the Kenya Forest Service, is one of the 22 gazetted forest blocks that make up the Mau Forest Complex water tower within Kenya’s Rift Valley. MPESA Foundation, together with Finlays Horticulture are among the key sponsors of project, which has been spearheaded by Rhino Ark under a private/public partnership with government agencies Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service.
Speaking at the event, Rhino Ark’s Executive Director, Christian Lambrechts provided an overview of the Eburu Fencing and Conservation Project. He explained that the project comprised three major components:
- Construction of a comprehensive electric fence as a management tool that would address human wildlife conflict challenges and protect the forest from wanton destruction arising from illegal and unsustainable activities, in particular logging, charcoal burning, and uncontrolled livestock grazing;
- Support to the communities to reduce their dependencies on the forest resources, through environmental awareness and education, strengthening of community conservation initiatives, development of conservation-based enterprises;
- Rehabilitation of the degraded forest areas together with the adjacent communities and key partners.
In his remarks following the placement of posts by the guests, MPESA Foundation’s Les Baillie expressed his organization’s commitment to the project. He noted that the Kshs. 155 million grant provided by MPESA Foundation to Rhino Ark for the project was currently the largest that they have provided for a single project.
Kenya Forest Service Nakuru County forest coordinator, Samuel Mukundi also expressed the full support of the organization to the project, noting that the forest contained many spectacular features and values that needed to be conserved.
The fence will be approximately 50 kilometres long when completed and will take about 18 months to build. It will be the first ever comprehensive electric fence built in the entire Mau Forests Complex and will provide a blue print for the conservation of the other threatened forest blocks in the Complex.
Peter Guest is a London-based journalist and writer covering international development and environmental issues.Peter recently travelled to the Aberdares and Mt. Kenya with Rhino Ark’s Executive Director, Christian Lambrechts, to learn more about Rhino Ark’s work in these two ecosystems.
Read his insightful essay on this trip, titled “Raining like a mountain” published in AEON magazine, a new digital magazine of ideas and culture on http://www.aeonmagazine.com/nature-and-cosmos/peter-guest-kenya-water/.
Rhino Ark is pleased to report that as at 7 Novmber 2012 a further 10Kms of the Mt Kenya Fence has been built in just three months. This brings the total fence built to 12Kms. Construction of this first phase (which will be 50Kms long) began at the Kiringa River on the South Eastern side of the mountain. The fence has crossed the Thiba River and passed Kamweti area.
Once completed, the fence will be at least 400Kms long- equal or possibly longer than the now completed Aberdares fence.
Christian Lambrechts, Rhino Ark’s Executive Director, addresses the National Dialogue on Water Towers, Forests and Green Economy, organized jointly by UNEP and the Government of Kenya on 5-7 November 2012.
In his presentation, he highlighted the role of public-private partnership as an effective mechanism to conserve the water towers of Kenya, based on Rhino Ark’s 24 years of experience in the Aberdare Range and now on Mt. Kenya and in the Mau Mt. Eburu.
The dialogue was opened by the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife with the launch of a new report on The Role and Contribution of Montane Forests and Related Ecosystem Services to the Kenyan Economy.
The report which is co-authored by Christian Lambrechts, found that forests contribute to a wide range of sectors, accounting for 3.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), compared to the current official figure of 1.1 per cent. It also highlights that the economic benefits of forest ecosystem services are more than four times higher than the short-term gains of deforestation.
The report is available at: http://www.unep.org/pdf/Montane_Forests.pdf
Lord (Alastair) Aberdare, the great-great grandson of the Lord Aberdare who gave his name to the Aberdare mountain range, praised the Kenya charitable trust, the Rhino Ark, as an “exceptional conservation project and one of worldwide significance which is widely recognised as a model for replication in Kenya and elsewhere”.
Chairing a crowded meeting in London at the Royal Commonwealth Society on 11 October 2012 Lord Aberdare – the Rhino Ark’s patron, spoke of the impact Rhino Ark has made. He said he was hugely impressed by “what Rhino Ark has achieved, what Rhino is achieving, and what Rhino Ark will achieve”.
Colin Church from Rhino Ark addressed the Royal Commonwealth Society highlighting the success of the Rhino Ark Aberdare Fence at protecting the local ecosystem. He also spoke of the replication of the fencing project around Mount Kenya and Mount Mau Eburu. Members of the Royal African Society and the Kenya Society also attended.
Pointing to independent studies, including the United Nations Environment Programme, Colin Church said that the Aberdares enjoyed a 20% increase in forest cover from 2005 to 2010 and a 300% increase in land values that had improved the security of local farming communities.
The fence also eliminated crop destruction by wildlife and cattle rustling, and also reduced livestock disease transmission.
He said that the wholehearted support and participation of the local communities was integral to the success of the project. He also spoke of the paradox that a fence was so successful in creating harmony between local communities and wildlife. (The Video clip of Colin’s Church talk can be viewed on Youtube. The video can be viewed on the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8HHCo3pv4I)
The fences around Mount Kenya and Mount Mau Eburu will take a planned five years to complete and have the support of the Kenya government. Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched the Aberdare Trust earlier this year and said, “the work done on the Aberdares has transformed it into a model for all other water towers. We should follow this model to conserve and protect the remaining water towers”.
The construction of the Mount Kenya fence was launched by Finance Minister, Njeru Githae, at a ceremony in September this year. Speaking during the launch event, Rhino Ark’s Executive Director, Christian Lambrechts said, “Based on the experience in the Aberdare, we are also looking at establishing a Trust for Mt. Kenya to provide the required governance framework to harness the goodwill and coordinate the support from all the stakeholders towards maintaining and managing the fence.”
Rhino Ark’s conservation work in Kenya received a UK £5,000 boost from the 2012 UK Rhino Charge fund raising event, held on Sunday 23 September at Pippingford Park, East Sussex.
The overall event was won by the Muddy Boyz team of Kit Kaberry in Car 2. The highest sponsorship raised award was won by the Kinky Farus team of Sachin Patel in Car 6.
Further details on this event can be found on the Rhino Charge website www.rhinocharge.co.ke.
The Construction of the Mt. Kenya Fence was launched today by Finance Minister, Hon Njeru Githae at a ceremony held at the Castle CFA Centre, near the Castle Forest Station in Kirinyaga County.
The purpose of the Mt. Kenya Fence is to bring harmony between nature and the forest adjacent communities and to protect a natural asset of critical importance that supports economic development at national and local levels.
The Fence will protect over 2500 km2 and will be at least 400kms long – equal or possibly longer than the now complete Aberdare fence.
Speaking during the event, the Finance Minister said, “Considering the critical importance of this project as demonstrated by the study report on the benefits of the Aberdare fence, my Ministry provided Ksh. 100 million in the 2011-2012 financial year for the fencing of Mt. Kenya and Mt. Eburu in the Mau Forests Complex. These funds have enabled the purchase of the material for building the first 50 kilometers of the fence that we are launching today”.
Building upon the success of the Aberdare Fence Project, Rhino Ark announced in December 2012 its commitment to supporting conservation of Kenya’s water towers and their biodiversity. Mt Kenya was identified as one of the priority ecosystems in which Rhino Ark will initially focus on.
Rhino Ark is pleased to report that the building of the Mt Kenya Fence has commenced with TWO (2) KMS already constructed near Castle Forest Station in Kirinyaga County. The progress in building the fence has been made possible by the prompt mobilization of the fence construction team, the fence material and equipment and the establishment of the fence construction camp. This phase of the fence which is 50 km long is expected to be completed in 18 months.
Implemented in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service and with support of Kenya Forest Service, the Mt Kenya fence will protect over 2500 km2 of prime forests, water catchments and wildlife habitat and will be at least 400 kms long – equal or possibly longer than the now complete Aberdares fence. It will require Kshs 1 billion to build. The entire fence project is intended to be completed within five years subject to a regular flow of funds.
Over 600 children from 60 schools participated in the400 km Aberdare Fence Relay which just completed. The Run was flagged off on 12th June 2012 by Rhino Ark Patrons Hon.Charles Njonjo and Lord Aberdare from Wales. The Run which covered 5 counties has taken two weeks to go around the entire Aberdare Ecosystem, which is enclosed by the Rhino Ark Aberdare Electric Fence. Schoolchildren from Kiguru Primary school run the final leg on 27 June 2012.
The Run aimed at raising awareness among the youth living around the Aberdare ecosystem of the importance of conserving this critical water tower, which provides, among others, most of the drinking water for Nairobi. The Run also provided an opportunity to appreciate the benefits derived from the electric fence which has reduced tremendously human-wildlife conflicts around the Aberdares and assisted in curbing illegal activities in the forest.
“I think the Run is one of the best initiatives in terms of environment. Most pupils have taken interest in conservation matters and so has the community. Everyone is now quite keen on conserving the Aberdares”, said Christopher Gitahi, Teacher at Talau Primary School.
Rhino Ark Patrons, Charles Njonjo and Lord Aberdare from the U.K flagged off the Aberdare Fence Relay Run/ Royal Jubilee Year near Treetops at 10.00am on Tuesday, 12 June.
The relay – the third since the completion of the electrified fence constructed round the Aberdare mountain range – will involve over 600 children from schools near the periphery of the 400km long fence. The relay emphasizes the importance of the fence in protecting Kenya’s forest environment. It finishes on 26 June.