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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Umani Springs “The hidden springs from mountain Kibwezi”

Umanyi as pronounced in Kamba dialect means place of knowledge or place where everyone comes to in Kamba. The forest is full of sky scraping trees fat figs and tall yellow fever trees.  Umani springs are the second largest springs in the country after Mzima springs and Kibwezi enchanted forest offers a rich treasure of springs and marshes, forest and volcanic cones.

The splash of the crystal-clear water coming out of the ground is soothing.
The springs have been described by environmentalists and tourists as a peaceful oasis in the beautiful bush. Others say it is a stunning art of creation. It is one of the water towers of the Chyulu ecosystem. Umani springs owes its existence to rainfall on the northern part of Chyulu Hills where the forest is relatively intact.

The fragile ecosystem is a favorite for animal lovers, bird watchers, botanists, entomologists and fun seekers. The underground water is extracted and piped to over 500,000 residents of kibwezi Town, Mtito Andei, Machakos and Chyulu Hills.

The springs have created an alluring forest canopy within its ecosystem which has seen the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in conjunction with Kenya Forest Service set up a tourist camp. Umani is home to elephants, buffaloes, cheetahs, monkeys, crocodiles, pythons, birds and butterflies. The David Sheldrick Eco-lodge overlooks waterholes fed by the springs. The building, with a unique design, comprises three bungalows around a Balinese inspired pavilion-style main building with an outdoor shower and sitting rooms.  The lodge has a lovely outdoor dining pergola, a pool, hanging chairs under a fig tree and dining areas.  The service is good. “You can carry your food and prepare it or the resident cook can do it for you,” says a tourist in the Globe Traveller Journal. The trust also uses Umani habitat as a centre for rescued baby elephant.

Kibwezi Community Forest Association members derive benefits from users’ rights.  Locals have been employed as scouts, guards and chefs at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Eco-Lodge and Rescued Elephants Centre. By visiting Kibwezi Forest and enjoying Umani springs, you are supporting the conservation of the unique groundwater ecosystem as well as the animals. The morning sun lights the marsh and awakens the golden weavers whose busy chirping wakes us up and we step out of the tent to a brand new day.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The only value of the ivory is tusks on a live elephant

Largest Ivory stock set on fire
 Kenya demonstrated for the fourth time their determination in the war against poachers and illegal smuggling of protected animal trophies.  Twelve towers made up of tusks estimated to be from about 8,000 elephants and rhino horns from 343 animals were burnt on 30th of April.

The event brought together heads of state from several African nations and hundreds of onlookers who came to witness Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta incinerating $172 million worth of illicit wildlife goods.  This was the most significant demonstration against poaching in the region and the largest burn of illegal wildlife products in history. It took Kenya's Wildlife Service’s 10 days to build the crematorium. This was Kenya's fourth such burn in a practice that goes back to 1989 during the retired president Daniel arap Moi term.

The burning of the ivory highlights the continuing crisis in elephant populations. About 30,000 to 50,000 elephants a year were killed from 2008 to 2013 alone, according to the Born Free Foundation, and the rate of killing surpasses the rate of births in Africa.
In 2008, the ban on ivory was lifted temporarily to allow stockpiles to be sold to the profit of the countries that owned them. But according to campaigners this resulted in a “spike” in poaching, with about 100,000 elephants lost as a result.

There are other methods deployed to discouraging poaching, such as removing tusks and dyeing rhino horns, but have had little effect in reduce poaching. The type of poaching currently witnessed is fueled by conflict and organized crime, where militias have used their arms, to wage war on the wardens of conservation areas and on local populations.
The debate on legalizing trade in Ivory has been brewing since at least 1989, when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted to "ban" the international trade in ivory after a ferocious wave of poaching in Africa that left hundreds of thousands of elephants butchered.

That question facing 
African countries in their fight against the multimillion-dollar illegal ivory trade. Is weather to burn or not to burn, countries such as Botswana and Zimbabwe have been more successful in conserving their wildlife. They therefore believe that they have the right to offload their excess stock in a regulated way to a given market, the proceeds from the sale goes back to communities and conservation.  They have in the past been lobbying to have the ban lifted. However, experts have argued that additional killing of elephants by countries with surplus, even if legal, is not sustainable. The 1989 ban on ivory trade must be kept in place to protect elephants, especially now that poaching has once again risen to catastrophic levels.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Lake Nakuru a favorite place for weekend gateway

There is no denying that the rise of lakes poses a great risk to the tourism industry, the famous hot springs and jets at Lake Bogoria have subsided, and the number of flamingoes in Lake Nakuru has reduced significantly. This has had a direct impact on the aesthetics of the area and visitors that fancy such attractions. Other rift valley lakes that have experienced rising water level include Naivasha, Elementaita and Baringo.

Water level in the park has been rising since 2011, to levels not seen in the last 50 years. It has remained high even when it isn’t raining making navigating the park almost impossible. Water levels have risen by as much as 2 metres, submerging sections of acacia forest and reducing the salinity of the water, thereby rendering the aquatic habitat unsuitable for flamingos. The lake is now less saline which isn’t conducive for algae as it thrives well in alkaline water. Flamingos have temporarily moved from Lake Nakuru to Lake Bogoria 100 kilomtres away leaving behind just a few hundreds.

Various government agencies have advanced different hypotheses to explain the high rise. The Meteorological department has reported that the rainfall patterns in the rift and its catchment areas are normal while the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has blamed the rise in levels to siltation of the lakes due to degradation of the catchment areas.

However, scientifically, the rise in the water level of the lakes in Rift Valley is due to effects of regional tectonics influenced by the movements of global earth’s plate tectonics.

Lake Nakuru National Park still remains one of the most attractive parks in Kenya despite the reduction of flamingoes. The population of over 450 bird species found in Lake Nakuru has increased tremendously, these includes pelicans, storks and gulls as well numerous species of migratory birds. The previously elusive hippos are now easier to see.

The reduction in grasslands by the rising water levels has made it easier to view the rest of the thriving rich diversity of mammalian population in the park. These include buffalos, baboons, impalas, bushbacks, Waterbucks, Lions, leopards, warthogs, pythons, and white rhinos among others. The landscapes range from sweeping grasslands bordering the lake to rocky cliffs and woodland to the largest euphorbia candelabrum forest in Africa. These tall branching succulents are endemic to the region and provide an interesting textural element to the arid landscapes.

The high water levels mean that much of the plains game has become easier to see. Seasonal rivers including Njoro, Makalia, Nderit, Naishi and Larmudiak have flowed continuously for the last year due to improved hydrology as a result of conservation efforts in the Mau Complex.