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28/11/2013

Chronicles from Kenya: part 1

Here things are going fine.

The start was slow, we lost a few days doing little, stuck in a Nakuru’s hotel. But soon after, me and Adrien departed to the study area, Lake Baringo and the arid savannah that surrounds it, where the work started at a staggering rate. After the first organizational meeting with NECOFA, WWF Italy and Manitese’s local partner, the first days were devoted to fieldwork, where we put camera traps in order to assess the quantity and quality of the wildlife of the area. To put them conveniently, we followed the advice of a small group of key informants, with which the participatory mapping work started directly in the field.

 

Then, for a couple of days we explored the dense savannah (shrub savannah) in the hills south and east of Marigat community, finding a small antelope called dik dik and indirect signs of hyena, including a den, with much fur inside. Of course, as the Lion Kinh taught us, among the rocks! Moving then eastward, we noticed the improved quality of the bush, as well as its apparent good  level in terms of wilderness.

 

It is here that our team finally spotted zebras, as a sign of an ecosystem that , if not super-rich like that of a other protected areas, begins to show some signs of wilderness, which elsewhere has been compromised by "shambas ", small subsistence-farmers who heavily eroded natural territories across Africa, highlighting the increasing grow-rate of the country’s population.

 

It is an exciting nature! You are not in the Masai mara or in Tarangire, beautiful East Africa’s parks where you always see a lot of wildlife. You are in a place under attack, where there is still a lot of nature and where your work can make a difference. When we visited Lake Baringo, we got excited; it is a remarkable place, with an impressive birdlife. The lake level changes unexpectedly every few years; the last time he started to go up and then, a couple of years ago, the Salabani community had to migrate, seeing the whole village permanently flooded. In 1961, a penisula turned into an island, where there are surviving populations of impala, rock hyrax , a rich herpetofauna (snakes) and 8 giraffes carried by boat from Naivasha natural reserve.

 

From the lake, watching with binoculars towards the east coast, we discovered that there is a beautiful place that turned out to be a nature reserve managed by the community named RUKO. This reserve is still not used for tourism purposes because Pokot and Ilchamus tribes tend to fight. Here we spotted buffalos, two species of kudu, zebras, impalas, hippos, crocodiles, leopards and even lions. People said that more than once some elephants crossed the lake by swimming!

 

Then, we participated in a workshop. It was nice, good people, interesting news. We collected a lot of data and pieces of information telling us of a natural corridor between the park and the RUKO area. The corridor has been discovered by mapping lion moves. This corridor is precious and the local communities are already working on it.

 

Next week we will be in the field, a little with, a little with smaller groups. Keep in touch!