DEBARKING THREATENS THE SURVIVAL OF TREES IN NGONG FOREST

Girdling, also called ring-barking is the complete removal of a strip of bark  (consisting of cork cambium, phloem, cambium and sometimes going into the xylem) from around the entire circumference of either a branch or trunk of a woody plant. Girdling results in the death  of the area above the girdle over time. A branch completely girdled will fail and when the main trunk of a tree is girdled, the entire tree will die, if it cannot regrow from above to bridge the wound.

Those carrying out this destructive activity claim that the barks make good medicine for healing stomach aches, tooth aches and that they also increase blood in the body used after boiling the barks. Among the trees affected include Warbugia Ugandensis, Olea Capensis and Scherebera Alata. We are highly against debarking because once a tree is debarked the tree ceases to survive and becomes useless.Secondly the method used to prepare the claimed herbal medicine is not proffesional and might do more harm than cure to the person taking it.

debarked

debarked 1

debarked 2

ONE OF THE STRONGEST BIRDS OF PREY FOUND IN NGONG FOREST – AFRICAN CROWNED EAGLE

Crowned eagles are not the largest eagles in Africa—martial eagles claim that title—but they are the most powerful. Their legs are thick, and they have a very long talon on each back toe that helps them kill animals more than four times their size. Crowned eagles live in the tall woodland forests and rain forests of Africa. Built for flying among trees, the crowned eagle’s wings are short and broad, and its long tail helps guide the bird like a rudder guides a boat. These features allow the eagle to fly easily through the branches.

CrownedEagle3

Adult crowned eagles have a dark brown head with long crest feathers tipped in white, a cream or reddish breast with black bars, and wings that are black on the top and reddish underneath. Like many raptors, the female is larger than the male.

crown eaglecrowned eagle

As the most powerful eagle in Africa, the crowned eagle is able to kill animals weighing up to 44 pounds (20 kilograms). The eagle’s long hind talon helps break the prey’s spine  A favorite method of hunting is to sit in a tree overlooking a waterhole or clearing and then simply drop down onto the prey. When hunting monkeys, a crowned eagle flies over the forest canopy until a troop of monkeys can be heard. The eagle lands on a branch and tries to get as close as possible to the monkeys without being seen before attacking. A crowned eagle pair may hunt together: the male flies high and calls out to get the attention of monkeys in the trees below; the female then skims the treetops and grabs a confused monkey. They prefer to carry their kill into a tree to eat in safety, but they can’t carry anything heavier than themselves. If the kill is too heavy, it will be torn apart on the ground and the pieces stored and eaten over several days or brought back in pieces to the nest. Crowned eagles also eat small antelope, mongooses, rats, monitor lizards, and snakes.

1 . Crowned Eagle with Vervet Monkey prey

A SYKE MONKEY KILLED

Like many eagles, the crowned eagle male performs a beautiful courtship flight to impress a female. He flies very high into the air and makes a series of swooping dives and climbs, like a roller coaster. At the top of each loop, he flaps his wings quickly several times, throws his head back, and calls loudly for up to 30 seconds. If the female joins him, they may lock talons and cartwheel down toward the ground, only letting go at the last second.

african-crowned-eagle

The pair uses the same nest for many years until a new pair inherits it. The nest is made of sticks and lined with fresh, green branches. The eagles add new material to the nest each year, and over time the nest can grow up to 8 feet (2.4 meters) across and 10 feet (3 meters) deep. It typically rests in a 40- to 150-foot-tall (12 to 46 meters) tree.

juvinile

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NGONG ROAD FOREST HOME FOR INDIGENOUS TREES – STRANGLER FIG TREES

Most species of ficus found in kenya are monoecious i.e. male and female flowers occur together within a single fig. Locally the strangler fig or the Wild Fig is known as the Mugumo tree.  Ancient Kikuyu tradition holds this tree as a sacred tree, because it was thought that spirits, especially deceased ancestors, dwelt in this tree.  Therefore, when clearing a field for cultivation, the Kikuyu will never cut down a Mugumo tree that happened to be in the field and thus these trees will often grow to be very old. In ancient times, ceremonies and sacrifices were often carried out under large Mugumo trees.

strangler fig tree

The roots grow down to the forest floor where they take root and begin to take nutrients from the soil. Gradually the roots wrap around the host tree, widen, and slowly form a lattice-work that surrounds the host’s trunk. The fig’s crown grows foliage which soon overshadows the tree. Eventually, the host tree dies leaving the fig with a hollow trunk—which is easily climbed thanks to the many openings in the trunk. Figs are often the only tree species remaining after forest clearing, since their knotted and twisted wood is shunned by loggers.

strangler fig tree

strangler tree 1

Almost ironically, this agent of death provides an important niche and food  source to many rain forest creatures. Its hollow trunk,  with an abundance of  nooks and crannies, provide an important home to thousand of invertebrates,  rodents, bats , reptiles, amphibians and birds.  many other species are attracted to the fig trees because  of its production in large amounts of good tasting  fig fruits. These fruits are packed with seeds which are not destroyed when they are consumed, and are passed out in the dung of animals far from the mother tree.  In many forests the fig tree is considered a keystone species since during parts of the year it is virtually the only tree producing fruit.

Fruit at Green Cay Wetlands Boynton Beach, Florida - Credit: Forest & Kim Starr - Plants of Hawaii - Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, permitting sharing and adaptation with attribution.

friuts

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CHARITY WALK AT THE SANCTUARY A HUGE SUCCESS

For the fourth time now, Riara Group of Schools held a Charity Walk in aid of Starehe Girls Centre at the Sanctuary on Saturday. This is the Starehe Girls’ Centre 12th Academic Year and a major milestone given the support they have continued to receive in sustaining a Centre of Excellence in education for brilliant and needy girls.

The walk attracted over 3000 participants from all walks of life with the biggest number being students from various schools in Nairobi. By 9am most of the participants had arrived and were being entertained by the Starehe Girls and Boys band.

preparations

at the venue

preparations

excited to be in the forest

Talk of excitement!!

determination

forest

selfie

Selfie

nrfa vice chair

Ngong Road Forest Association Vice Chairman gives a speech

the band

Starehe Girls and Boys Band entertains

all smiles

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SANCTUARY TO HOST STAREHE GIRLS FOURTH ANNUAL CHARITY WALK

For the fourth  time now, Riara Group of Schools will be holding a Charity Walk in aid of Starehe Girls Center at the Sanctuary on Saturday 4th June 2016.

For the many participants that will turn up for the walk, it will be a great chance to interact with nature and they walk for a worthy course, talk of double benefits.

the puddle we had to walk through

the band entertains

warm up 2

Pictures from previous events

prep

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Preparations for the Saturday’s charity walk
Many organizers of such events have come to realize this and are now turning to natural environments as they are more serene, less polluted and in fact guarantee the participants a refreshing feeling at the end of the event.

 
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SANCTUARY HOSTS EDUKENYA FOR A CYCLING EVENT

Last Saturday we hosted EduKenya for a cycling event which was aimed at raising money for giving quality holistic education to children within Mathare Slum. EduKenya seeks to educate, empower and transform communities through education.

parking lot

warm up

warm up 1

FLAG OFF

cycling

walking

The event was a great success despite the heavy downpour on both Friday and Saturday.

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Ngong Forest Sanctuary hosts Baiskeli Adventures for a cycling event

In the recent past we hosted Baiskeli Adventures for a cycling event which was a big success. both the young and the old turned up in big numbers as they cycled in the well marked nature trails enjoying the serenity and interacting with the Sykes monkeys.

 

arrivalat the sanctuary

Arrival at the Sanctuary

at the beggining

The flag off

directions

Well marked nature trails

ranger

Even the kids joined in

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EDUCATIONAL TOUR AT NGONG FOREST SANCTUARY

Recently we hosted Karen ”C”  Primary School for an educational  tour at the Sanctuary. Among the places they visited include the glades, seasonal river and the nature trails.

glade

in the forest

in the  forest

pose

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NGONG ROAD FOREST SANCTUARY HOSTS STUDENTS FROM BRAEBURN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

Recently we hosted students from Braeburn international School year 3 students who were visiting the forest for the first time ever. They arrived at around 9:30 am where they were welcomed and ushered into the Imre Loefler Education center. They were officially welcomed by the project Manager Mr. Simon Ng’ang’a who gave them a brief history of the Ngong Forest and the differences between Indigenous and exotic trees.
arrival at the sanctuary
The students on internship talked about the life cycle of a forest, the importance and uses of a  forest. They then had snacks at the banda before proceeding to the forest for a walk. They visited the Winnie Nduku nature trail where they learnt about bees at the apiary, the glades and finally the seasonal river. They then had their lunch and finally they planted a few trees.

briefing at the educatin center

in the forest

at the nursery

 

glades

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COMMUNITY MEMBERS PARTICIPATE IN TREE PLANTING AND MAINTENANCE

For a very long period of time community within the Ngong Road Forest have always depended on the forest for firewood which they sell or use for cooking. It has been a big task for the Ngong Road Forest management to bring the group together and advocate to them the importance of forest conservation.
In the recent past we hosted staff from Syngenta who as part of their corporate Social Responsibility participated in a tree planting event at an area that was heavily occupied by the invasive shrub, lantana camara. Unfortunately it was not good timing as it was very dry, hence they planted 100 seedlings out of the 1,000 seedlings they had purposed to plant. It was then that some community members decided to volunteer to plant the remaining seedlings after having learnt the importance of conservation.

picking the seedlings
Since only 100 seedlings were planted by Syngenta and  the target was 1000 some of  the community members  a group of five would come every day in the morning with jerrycans, carry water for almost a kilometer to the site and water the seedlings. When the long rains started, the same women would come every day to the nursery with bags for carrying the seedlings to the site and planting  them. About 90% of the seedlings are doing well. We really appreciate their efforts in maintaining and conserving the forest.

planting

one of the community women

seedlings 1
Story by : Nicholas Akach