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Identification of Predators Responsible for Kills

As a wildlife officer, one of the skills I have realised one has to have in his fingertips  is the identification of predators responsible for kills be it in the bush “my office” or while responding to Problematic Animal Control (PAC), these skills come in handy when identifying the predator responsible for the kill so as to come up with the ideal solution for the specific animal.

A basic autopsy of the animals killed i.e shoats or cattle can reveal so much; dies the animal have a bite mark on the neck, was it constricted, which parts have been bitten off and how many of them have been killed can be key to identifying the culprit (predator) of which the most common are; Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lions and wild dogs among other small carnivores.

 

For understanding the impact of predators on prey species, it is obviously necessary to know about their feeding: what prey species are they killing?  What proportion of them do they take?  What age, sex, and condition are these prey?  And how do they compare in number and agesex distribution with the live prey population?

It must be remembered that most predators are extremely flexible in what they eat.   Their diet certainly varies from place to place, depending partly, of course, on what prey species are present in different areas.  For the samreason, the diet may vary with season as the prey species present change.   Even if the numbers of different prey species in an area do not alter, there may be differences·itheir catchability, due behaviour of the prey.

It is extremely difficult to sawhat proportion of prey animals are truly “available” to the predators.   And there are certainly differences between individual predators in the prey animals they take. 

Kills can be examined by waiting until the predator has finished feeding, or if this is impossible (e.g. because of lack of time, or because a small prey animal is likely to be totally consumed) by temporarily driving it from its kill. Predators can usually be made to withdraw by driving slowly towards them and separating them from their kill which can then be observed from close range.  Although most predators will flee from a human on foot, this method disturbs them considerably, and they may not then return to their kill.

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Next step after Graduating in the field of Conservation

After long days of studying, long hours classes, countless sleepless nights, challenges, obstacles, successes, failures, blood, sweat, and tears, the feeling of graduating from college is truly surreal.

One works so hard for what feels like a long-awaited day and then suddenly it dawns and then it feels like it went by so fast. In the blink of an eye, your entire college career is over and you’re on to the next chapter in life. It’s a pretty big deal.

Naturally, graduating gives us a plethora of emotions. It’s as if all of the fluctuating emotions we’ve experienced over the course of our college years bottles up into one huge melting pot of feelings, and it all just bursts on graduation day, but what to do next is normally the bit that hits us later and most often are times we find ourselves back up country (ushago) having sent numerous application letters for internships to the various conservation organizations with no response.

Well, I believe that’s what we’ve all gone through especially those of us who took up courses in the field of conservation. I’m in various conservation-related WhatsApp groups where the majority of my target audience are youths who have completed courses in this field eager to be engaged in any conservation organization for field exposure but have no leads.

Maybe having gone through the system I can assure you that it’s never easy but there’s always a starting point. From my personal experiences, I believe you can pick up a thing or two and at the end of the day get the much-desired exposure as you wait for a response for the numerous internship applications you’ve sent,

There are conservation organizations that I wish you could be part of either as a student or a volunteer if you’ve just cleared your course. This exposure made a great impact as a foundation for my career in the field of conservation. Just to highlight a few of them;

Friend of Nairobi National Park

FoNNaP is a non-profit, membership-driven organization dedicated to assisting the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in nurturing and preserving biodiversity within Nairobi National Park and the broader ecosystem to which the park belongs. We have noticed an upsurge of pressure on the survival of wildlife in the past years and here FoNNaP comes in.

FoNNaP works closely with KWS and communities adjacent to the park to develop and implement conservation and rangeland management projects in and around the park. Based at Langata Link (office No.1) Langata South Road, FoNNaP has been instrumental in the maintenance of rangelands south of the park keeping open sections of the wet season migration routes and dispersal areas historically used by wild animals.

FoNNaP remains committed to a cohesive conservation strategy allowing wildlife and community members to co-exist in the existing dispersal areas. Measures have been taken to mitigate human-wildlife conflict through the Lion Entry Deterrent (LED) Systems project. This project concurrently helps to conserve the environment as it uses solar-powered lights. FoNNaP members participate in the bi-monthly game count in and around the park to monitor the wildlife trends and movements for accurate documentation. They also benefit from informative meetings and activities such as lectures, walks or films each last Saturday of the month as part of our awareness campaign.

Members of the public are kept informed about the happenings of the park through FoNNaPs newsletters circulated online, interactive blogs, Facebook page and twitter handles. The funds raised from membership registration and merchandise sold such as T-shirts, Shirts, Books, Calendars, Wall hanging e.t.c. go towards supporting the FoNNaP office administration, supporting KWS security services for the park, lion lights installation, lobby, advocacy and educational activities. All of FoNNaPs activities are lots of fun!

Get close and personal by joining them

For details on how You can get involved or for further information, contact FoNNaP on fonnap1@gmail.com. To access the fonnap blog, visit http://fonnap.wordpress.com. On twitter, visit http://twitter.com/fonnapkenya.By telephone, FoNNaP can be reached on +254723690686

Friends of City Park

Friends of City Park is a volunteer organization that started in 1996 in response to various challenges faced at City Park including land grabbing, cutting of trees, garbage dumping and other pressures that kept on degrading the park. Our Dream is to ensure that every Nairobi Resident has Access to Green Space. Our five-year Vision is to see City Park clean, safe and accessible to all, especially children. It will have cultural, educational and nature activities. It will be conserved in spirit, content and function as a bio-diverse and historic park with secure boundaries.

Activities undertaken

  • Advocacy through education and publications: Over 250 activities at City Park including monthly nature walks, pollinators garden, educational treasure hunts for children and young adults, river clean-up, Nai ni Who events, tree planting.
  • Policy and Government support: to Nairobi City County Government, the National Museums of Kenya, National Environment Management Authority and the National Lands Commission in protecting, preserving and publicizing the park.
  • Scientific Inventory: In conjunction with experts from the National Museum of Kenya, we have conducted four baseline surveys of flora, fauna, river conditions and land tenure.
  • Monitoring and prevention of land grabs, habitat and cultural degradation by reporting of the destruction of the forest, loss of land, encroachment, publicity about infringement, coordination with government and demands for rehabilitation.
  • Training the next generation: Training nature guides and tourist guides and educating hundreds of children about nature.
  • Publicity: Working with the media on issues on conservation.

HOW TO BE INVOLVED

Please join our free mailing list and activities detailed on our webpage.

You can give a small contribution, even of KES 1,000/- to support us.

Please come for our free guided walks every first Saturday of the month.

Buy our guidebook. This is an excellent resource that talks about the park’s facilities, history and wildlife @ksh450

Tell everyone in your network about this incredible island of Beauty.

Contacts: Email: cityparkfriends@naturekenya.org, Phone: 0739200216

Website: http://friendsofcitypark.org

Nature Kenya

Nature Kenya—the East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS)—is Africa’s oldest environmental Society. We were established in 1909 to promote the study and conservation of nature in eastern Africa. Located at the National Museums of Kenya grounds, membership entails Unlimited free entry to Kenya’s National Museums and museum sites. My favourite activity since joining in 2012 free weekly guided nature walks with experienced and professional ornithologists.

Nature Kenya members today continue their active interest in natural history by joining working groups for Birds, Insects, Mammals and others, and action groups including Friends of Nairobi ArboretumFriends of City Park and the Nature Kenya Youth Committee.  The Society continues strategic research collaboration with the National Museums of Kenya, the host and home for the Society. A monthly newsletterannual magazine, regular e-mail notices and social media presence keep members and the public informed.

Volunteering with Nature Kenya

Volunteers are very valuable individuals who volunteer their time and expertise to provide an important service to Nature Kenya and help further its mission of connecting nature to people. In turn, Nature KENYA gives support that is useful in gaining valuable experiences and a sense of personal satisfaction. Nature Kenya committees and staff are only too happy to receive the assistance of volunteers from time to time. Volunteer appointments may last from 3 months to 1 year, although no specific time commitment is required

Activities at Nature Kenya and Museums of Kenya 

  • Enrol for an internship at the Zoology department and rotate through the Mammalogy, ichthyology and ornithology units for a great exposure from the staff 
  • Join the Tuesday bird ringing crew that happens every Tuesday and end month at Karara – Arocha in Karen and learn about Birds 
  • Join the Birdwalks to different locations led by Nature Kenya youth committee and also join the potluck activities. 
  • Volunteer with Nature Kenya youth committee during their awareness programmes in schools and hiking activities, tree planting on a different location 
  • Participate during the Biannual waterfowl counts within wetlands in Nairobi and on rift valley lakes 
  • Attend activities at the arboretum and free talks held by various scientists and organised groups at the Museums. 
  • Be a nature Kenya member and enjoy a variety of privileges inclusive of free museum entries around the country and participation in their activities.  

If you are interested in joining as a volunteer write to office@naturekenya.org

 

Wildlife Clubs of Kenya

I believe we have all been members of WCK at some point I normally ask my friends from campus who are yet to get absorbed or settled in the field of conservation ” are the schools around your home members of WCK?” most often the response is that they are not certain or have no idea. Guess its the same with you isn’t it…

You can become an ambassador start a wildlife club in the schools surrounding your neighbourhood, register the schools and get the pupils engaged in the various diverse programs that WCK has; from tree planting and starting up nurseries, conservation education and outreach programmes the list is endless and you have the potential and capacity through the support of the organization.

More than 2 Million youth have benefited from conservation education programmes since its inception and most people holding government and non-government jobs in tourism and environment-related disciplines owe their interest from being members of WCK in the youthful age.

WCK has over 3000 registered institutions and seven regional offices demarcated along broad thematic areas: Rift valley-alkaline lakes ecosystem, Nairobi-savannah grasslands ecosystems and Eastern-semi arid ecosystem. WCK encourages schools, colleges, individuals and organizations to be members and support conservation efforts. Member schools and colleges learn and participate in conservation activities.

You can register the schools and inspire the young pupils, organize for educational trips to various parks and by doing this you will have raw field exposure.

Membership benefits

3 issues of Komba-WCK magazine

Reduced fee to KWS Kenya National Parks and Reserves

Free lectures and video/slide shows

Borrowing wildlife video films at reduced rates

Memberships rate accommodation at WCK hostels

WCK roadshows by the Mobile Education Unit

Individual (Associate) and Cooperate members also enjoy the above benefits save for reduced fee to KWS Kenya National parks and Reserve as this is limited to school groups.

Interested parties are requested to contact us at the address below

The Membership Clerk

Wildlife Clubs of Kenya

PO BOX 20184,00200 Nairobi

winnie@wildlifeclubsofkenya.org/windwiga@yahoo.com

 The list of conservation organizations in East Africa is quite long, the exposure you require is closer than you think. Feel free to share your experience with us and help us inspire a fellow youth 

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Call for Volunteers Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions #gmerl2019

This is an invitation to you to support the Global March Nairobi Edition, which takes place on April 13th 2019.

We shall be marching 10KM from National Museums of Kenya at 8 AM TO Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarter where we aim to arrive at 12. Marching, singing, chanting, dancing, spreading the message to all near and far, making sure our voice is heard both national and international media.
Then between 12 pm and 2 pm we shall have Edutainment, Exhibitions, music (live performances) networking opportunities, and speeches from our esteemed guest speakers.

As you know, the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions (GMFERL) is a worldwide call to action to condemn the poaching of elephants, rhinos and the trafficking of wildlife trophies. It is a call for governments, civil society, grass root communities, media and all stakeholders to be proactive and collaborative towards ensuring the survival of elephants and rhinos.

This year we are advocating for our stance as a country and as the Continent of Africa at CITES Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. We want to not only let our voice as Kenya be heard on the issues that matter most to us from closing domestic markets of Ivory Trade, to protecting our Giraffes, Whales, Pan Cake Tortoise, Pangolin, Lion and rhino by ensuring their protection on a local and international scale is at its highest. But we also want Africa to realize that an animal does not need a visa to roam across our borders, and the actions of any African country in regards to our wildlife and biodiversity affects us all and hence we must speak with ONE VOICE if the future of our wildlife is to be safeguarded.

This year we are hosting the biggest march yet and in order to do that, we need an army of dedicated, disciplined, energetic passionate volunteers.

This is an invitation to you to support the Global March Nairobi Edition, which takes place on April 13th 2019.

We shall be marching 10KM from National Museums of Kenya at 8AM TO Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarter where we aim to arrive at 12. Marching, singing, chanting, dancing, spreading the message to all near and far, making sure our voice is heard both national and international media.
Then between 12pm and 2pm we shall have Edutainment, Exhibitions, music (live performances) networking opportunities, and speeches from our esteemed guest speakers.

As you know, the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions (GMFERL) is a worldwide call to action to condemn the poaching of elephants, rhinos and the trafficking of wildlife trophies. It is a call for governments, civil society, grass root communities, media and all stakeholders to be proactive and collaborative towards ensuring the survival of elephants and rhinos.

This year we are advocating for our stance as a country and as the Continent of Africa at CITES Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. We want to not only let our voice as Kenya be heard on the issues that matter most to us from closing domestic markets of Ivory Trade, to protecting our Giraffes, Whales, Pan Cake Tortoise, Pangolin, Lion and rhino by ensuring their protection on a local and international scale is at its highest. But we also want Africa to realize that an animal does not need a visa to roam across our borders, and the actions of any African country in regards to our wildlife and biodiversity affects us all and hence we must speak with ONE VOICE if the future of our wildlife is to be safeguarded.

This year we are hosting the biggest march yet and in order to do that, we need an army of dedicated, disciplined, energetic passionate volunteers.

This is an invitation to you to support the Global March Nairobi Edition, which takes place on April 13th 2019.

We shall be marching 10KM from National Museums of Kenya at 8 AM TO Kenya Wildlife Service Headquarter where we aim to arrive at 12. Marching, singing, chanting, dancing, spreading the message to all near and far, making sure our voice is heard both national and international media.
Then between 12 pm and 2 pm we shall have Edutainment, Exhibitions, music (live performances) networking opportunities, and speeches from our esteemed guest speakers.

As you know, the Global March for Elephants, Rhinos and Lions (GMFERL) is a worldwide call to action to condemn the poaching of elephants, rhinos and the trafficking of wildlife trophies. It is a call for governments, civil society, grass root communities, media and all stakeholders to be proactive and collaborative towards ensuring the survival of elephants and rhinos.

This year we are advocating for our stance as a country and as the Continent of Africa at CITES Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. We want to not only let our voice as Kenya be heard on the issues that matter most to us from closing domestic markets of Ivory Trade, to protecting our Giraffes, Whales, Pan Cake Tortoise, Pangolin, Lion and rhino by ensuring their protection on a local and international scale is at its highest. But we also want Africa to realize that an animal does not need a visa to roam across our borders, and the actions of any African country in regards to our wildlife and biodiversity affects us all and hence we must speak with ONE VOICE if the future of our wildlife is to be safeguarded.

This year we are hosting the biggest march yet and in order to do that, we need an army of dedicated, disciplined, energetic passionate volunteers.

Any information needed about the march please email Info@suso.world or vincento@wildlifedirect.org

See you there

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THE ROLE OF WILDLIFE DISPERSAL CORRIDORS IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

Globally, one of the main biodiversity challenges is the loss of connectivity in wildlife conservation areas mainly due to human-induced factors that exert pressure on land and water resources. Indeed, many protected areas are too small to maintain viable populations of African wildlife. Despite diverse species inhabiting savannas and have for a long time had expansive habitats to utilize, the savanna ecosystem is increasingly under threat from habitat fragmentation and loss of wildlife dispersal areas to agriculture and human settlement.

Land fragmentation represents an obstacle to maintaining ecological connectivity and viable wildlife populations. Reduced landscape connectivity and impeded movements may result in higher mortality, lower population viability and lower production leading to smaller populations. In view of their great mobility and extensive spatial requirements for survival, large mammals are vulnerable to fragmentation effects.

The fragmentation effects result when animals within populations are unable to cross to connecting habitats, access mates or other biological requirements. These effects have underscored the need to maintain and restore essential movements of wildlife species particularly those with high traffic volumes, it is for this reason that wildlife corridors are constructed.

 

CORRIDORS/FENCE GAPS AND USE OF CAMERA TRAPS FOR MONITORING AT OL PEJETA CONSERVANCY

Infrared cameras used at the fence gaps to monitor wildlife traffic in and out of the conservancy coloured pictures taken during the daytime while black and white at night

A wildlife corridor is an area of habitat connecting wildlife populations separated by human activities or structures such as roads development or logging. This allows an exchange of individuals between population, which may help prevent the negative effect of inbreeding and may moderate some of the worst effects of habitat fragmentation.

Elephants Entering OL Pejeta from Mutara using the corridor

 The OL Pejeta Conservancy has well-modified wildlife corridors/ fence gaps classified according to their width indirectly proportional to size and number of animals using it. All animals are free to more in and out of the conservancy by way of specially constructed game corridors that only restrict the movement of rhinos knee high post in the ground, situated very close together present no challenge for elephant rates, antelope and carnivores that are easily able to jump or step over. Rhinos are unable to do this and as a result, are restricted from moving into areas where they are in danger of being slaughtered for their horn it also operates a successful livestock program which serves to benefits local pastoralist and wildlife. 

 The OlPejeta conservancy have got three constructed corridor  located on the Northern part of the conservancy with the reason being that to the Southern part of it there is small scale farming taking place by the local communities inhibited the area, the northern corridors enable dispersal of wildlife to the greater Laikipia ecosystem thus increasing their probability of survival and range while at the same time reducing pressure on the conservancy.

Connectivity is essential between adjacent conservation areas

 Advantages of the corridors

  •   They  allow the wild animals to have the freedom of movement in and out the other protected areas such as Mt. Kenya National Park, Mutara ranch, Solio ranch
  • They help prevent inbreeding of animal in order to acquire strong genes from other species of animals away from the protected area
  •    Helps the conservancy to acquire species of animal that they don’t have on  their records of wild animal species of OlPejeta through the aid of the camera traps
  •     Help elephants from breaking the fence thus promoting good wildlife management techniques

         Help in developing the checklist of wild animals within the protected area this is done through monitoring the footprints of the wild animals in the process of animals moving in and out of the protected area and through the images captured by the cameras which operate even at night.

    

            Although game corridor has numerous advantages there are still some challenges in line with the management such as:

  • Competition for natural resources such as food, space, cover and water 
  • Disease reservoir for livestock example zoonosis  transmission of disease can be from livestock to   wild animal 
  • Livestock predation example is lion predating against cow  

           

Connectivity within adjacent conservation areas is inevitable, fence gaps are the best alternatives

           Way forward 

 Wildlife corridors are not proposed as mitigation for loss of core habitat.  However, with careful planning and design, wildlife corridors can help reduce the negative effects of habitat fragmentation by allowing dispersal of individuals between large patches of remaining habitat.  While additional study on the efficacy of wildlife corridors is necessary, some general principles of evaluation and design are available and should be implemented.  Monitoring the use of corridors by target wildlife species is an important step in corridor planning, to allow for adaptive management. 

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Dealing with Wildlife poisoning in Kenya- Scavengers dilemma

Scavenging animals in Kenya are on high alert. What used to be a delicacy has recently become their death bed.

Wildlife poisoning has emerged as one of the major threats affecting our wildlife populations in Kenya. Aggrieved persons have resorted to using poisonous chemicals in retaliation for human-wildlife conflict cases, for example, lemme take you back to December 2015 when two Lions from the famous Marsh Pride and 15 White-Backed vultures were poisoned alongside other species in the Maasai Mara ecosystem as a result of retaliatory killing due to conflict.

Wildlife poisoning is a silent killer that indiscriminately kills large numbers of animals and is harmful to human and ecological health. A poison is any substance that can cause severe organ damage or death if ingested, breathed in or absorbed through the skin. The use of poison to kill wildlife is silent, cheap and easy and has, therefore, become a common method used in the illegal control of damage-causing animals, harvesting fish and bushmeat, harvesting animals for belief-based uses, poaching for wildlife products, and killing of wildlife sentinels.

Poisoning of birds, including migratory species, occurs year-round in Kenya’s rice schemes and in other water bodies. Fish are also harvested using poisons and both poisoned fish and birds make their way to local markets where they are often sold to unsuspecting customers with potentially grave impacts for human health.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, has identified wildlife poisoning as one of the major wildlife crimes that is punishable by law. Poisoning has had a profound negative effect on our carnivores: lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs, and on birds of prey: vultures, eagles and other scavengers. Aquatic species including fish have also been affected due to water pollution with poisonous chemicals.

Common Chemicals Used to Poison Wildlife in Kenya

There are a number of toxic chemicals such as agro-chemicals, plant-based extracts and heavy metals which have been used in the illegal poisoning of wildlife in Kenya. Over the last 8 years, the majority of poisoning incidents have been carried out using agro-chemicals which can be broadly classified as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, acaricides. The most commonly used pesticides are organophosphates, pyrethroids and carbamates.

During the period between 2009 and 2017, some of the wildlife poisoning incidents and chemical compounds identified are summarized below.

Year Month Species affected Number affected Chemical (Compound identified) Location County
2009 Apr Lion 1 Carbamate Maasai Mara Narok
2009 Apr Vultures 40 Carbamate Maasai Mara Narok
2010 Vultures 20 Amitraz (Acaricide) Maasai Mara Narok
2011 Feb Fish Mass die off Pyrethroid Maasai Mara Narok
2011 Elephant 1 Ouabain (Plant extract) Siyapei Narok
2014 Lions 5 Carbamate Ngurumani Kajiado
2015 July Lions 1 Carbamate Laikipia
2015 Nov Lions 2 Carbamate Maasai Mara Narok
2015 Nov Vultures 15 Carbamate Maasai Mara Narok
2016 Feb Elephants 2 Carbamate Maasai Mara Narok
2016 Elephant 1 Ouabain (Plant extract) Tsavo Taita Taveta
2017 May Elephants 2 Pyrethroid Ngurumani kajiado

Table1; Summary of chemical compounds, wildlife species affected, location and year (KWS 2017)

Some of the clinical symptoms to look for in Suspected Poisoned Animal

Clinical symptoms of poisoned animals Generally, animals display similar symptoms of poisoning depending on their taxa. Poisoned mammals may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Paralysis
  • Muscle spasm
  • Vomiting
  • Severe dehydration
  • Drooling of saliva/ hyper-salivation
  • Increased tearing/ hyper-lacrimation
  • Lethargy
  • Disorientation
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Poisoned bird species may exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Unable to fly
  • Paralysis
  • Convulsions
  • Drooping wings
  • Blood in the droppings
  • Skin irritation
  • Drooping dead
  • Mass-die-offs

Poisoning of animals around Mara ecosystem is on the rise and drastic measures need to be put in place to curb the menace. On 22nd November a concerned friend of mine who runs a tour firm www.namnyaksafaris.com sent me the photo and video of a tawny eagle which evidently was poisoned, this was at Oloolaimutia and I advised him to report the incidence to the local authority which he had already done.

Credit www.namyaksafaris.com

 

 All wildlife poisoning cases requiring treatment should be handled by qualified veterinarians registered by KWS

If you ever come across Poisoning cases that require rehabilitation  in Kenya are to be referred to KWS Nairobi Animal orphanage or to KWS approved orphanages some of which are listed below among others;

Nairobi Animal Orphanage

Tel: 020 2379407, 020 6002345,  020-2379408, 020-2379409, 020-2379410, 020-2379411, 020-2379412, 020-2379413, 020-2379414,

Call Center: 0800 597 000 or 0800 221 5566

David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Tel: 0202 301396, 0733 891996

Raptor Rehabilitation Center Karen, Nairobi

Tel: +254721969640/ 0723829529

For further reading refer to Response Protocol to Wildlife Poisoning Incidents in Kenya February 2018