The Aberdare Joint Surveillance Unit (AJSU) is a collaborative effort between Rhino Ark and the Kenya Wildlife Service that integrates local communities into the mainstream of conservation activity within the Aberdare Conservation Area. It is a novel concept that presents a new model for more proactive and involved community based conservation.
The AJSU comprises a fully trained five-man team drawn from the local Aberdare communities. The Unit is tasked with monitoring threats to forest integrity and illegal activity in the forest, undertaking de-snaring and monitoring tree and wildlife degeneration. Equally important, the Unit has been involving forest edge communities in working for the conservation of flora and fauna in the Aberdare ecosystem.
The AJSU was launched in May 2010, and since then has been undertaking patrols in vast areas of the forest.
The Unit is led by William Gichohi, the community Scouts supervisor. Rhino Ark financially and logistically supports the work of the Unit, including the training of team members, and has provided a patrol vehicle, cameras and hand-held GPS units to strengthen their field work. With 400km of fence protecting the Aberdare Conservation Area, the monitoring and patrol work by this trained team greatly assists in securing it.