In the recent past we have witnessed an increase in cases of illegal dumping of waste along the Cemetery Road, the road leads to the Sanctuary’s main gate and also serves as the exit from the Jamuhuri show ground. For a long time now, heaps of garbage has been randomly dumped at night at various points in the forest sections along the stretch with the worst cases occurring near the Cemetery road/Ngong road junction.
the cemetery road
Previously the CFA (Community Forest Association) wrote to NEMA (National Environment Management Authority) and the City Council on this issue and no action has been taken so far. The situation is now getting serious as the area is gradually degenerating into a ‘regular’ dump site, hence the need for immediate, collective and firm action from all concerned parties.
some of the recently dumped waste
Previously, the Trust has organized a cleanup event and welcomed the participation of all stakeholders in the CFA to the exercise to which was a great success. The City Council’s environment department accepted to assist with the disposal of the collection of garbage. We also requested the City Council to install “No Dumping’ signage along the road to deter further dumping which is yet to be installed.
The clean up that was done previously
On Saturday we luckily managed to arrest one culprit as he was busy dumping and took him to Jamuhuri police station and was booked in the court hearing will be this week. We are encouraging all residents and neighbours of the forest to take individual responsibility to stop and/or report any cases of dumping in their neighborhoods. Let us all and individually choose to make a difference in our own little ways.
The culprit and the cart with the waste materials
For the past two weeks while on forest patrols I have always purposefully passed by the crowned eagle nest to check on the progress. The pair had a juvenile and wanted to find out how the juvenile is doing. Interestingly I found out that the nest had reduced its size. Upon further investigation I found out that the pair thought the juvenile was mature enough to start its own independent life and were destroying the nest to force the juvenile to leave and seek it own territory and a mate. The Crowned Eagle does not migrate and they are apt to inhabit the same territory throughout their adult life. Juvenile birds will move about before they mature as they seek a territory and a mate. An adult may relocate on occasion due to unforeseen circumstances such as losing its mate. The pair will construct a nest, usually high up in a tree, and will reuse the nest from year to year. While the nest will initially be of modest size the pair will continue to add to the nest for years until it is rather large and one of the largest of all eagle species. Mature Crowned Eagle nests can be up to eight feet across and ten feet deep.
the African Crowned eagle nest
Fun facts about the African crowned eagle
- The flight of the African Crowned Eagle is remarkably stealthy and quiet, much like that of an owl. This is due to its unique wing shape.
- The African Crowned Eagle can swoop at speeds up to 100 mile per hour.
- African tribesmen value the crest feathers of the Crowned Eagle as ornaments.
- The Crowned Eagle has been known to attack prey that is up to six times its own weight.
- Pound for pound the African Crowned Eagle is one of the most formidable and ferocious birds of prey in the world.
- Males and females will sometimes work together when hunting. While one attracts the attention of a potential prey the other stealthy strikes from behind.
- The African Crowned Eagle can live for thirty years or longer in the wild with some possibly reaching fifty years
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The Charity walk that was dubbed “Stand up for African mothers”aimed to raise funds contribute towards reducing maternal mortality by 25% to help train over 15,000 midwives across Africa.The event started at 8.00 am with the final touch ups being made to make the event successful. Participants started streaming in as from 08.30 and were shown into the registration area. They were then welcomed by one of the members from the chase bank foundations and thanked them for having made time to walk to save a mum.
Shortly after the warm up started and they were then flagged off. There was a 10 kilometers walk nature trail and a shorter one for the kid for 3km. Security was tight and there were several check points where participants were given water.
Once they were through they went back to the starting point where there was entertainment and refreshments.
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For the second year running Ngong Road Forest will be hosting the chase foundation walk 2014. The walk that is dubbed “Stand up for African mothers” is expected to bring over 2,500 participants whose aim is to raise funds for reducing maternal deaths in rural areas through the training of midwives.
Tomorrow we will be hosting the Chase Bank staff and their families in a charity event aimed at raising funds for reducing maternal death rates in rural areas through training the midwives. The main objective is to raise funds to help reduce maternal mortality by improving the access to health reproductive services. The walk aims to raise money through individual participation and corporate sponsorship.
Preparation to make sure that the event is successful
Over the years, population increase in Nairobi County, has led to overcrowding in the few leisure spots available, e.g. Nairobi National Park, the Arboretum, Uhuru Park e.t.c. The Sanctuary is therefore timely in offering yet another alternative. Due to its uniqueness of being an indigenous forest within a city, and given that its only 6km from the city center
Various organizations have found the sanctuary a perfect destination for their corporate day events due to the many attractive sites it offers. Recently we hosted a cycling/ running event which was aimed at raising money to provide schools fees for needy children in Kibera.
The event started at 8.00 am the project; coordinator Mr. Simon Ng’ang’a welcomed the participants and gave them a brief history of the sanctuary. They were then flagged off and the race began there was ample security some got tired along the way and decided to walk some kept the pace and others almost fell.
Participants assembled at the starting point
Some of the participants
He almost fell down then he decided to rest for a while
running towards the finishing point
At the finishing point they were all smiles for having run for a worth course.
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The Sanctuary recognizes the importance of ensuring that the projects are relevant to adjacent communities. It therefore has included the neighbours in all stage of decision making and day to day management. The Trust seeks to play a role in poverty alleviation by establishing projects that are beneficial to adjacent communities but at the same time environmental friendly.
The Sanctuary is working closely with people in awareness campaigns to inculcate the culture of sustainable use of natural resources. Recently the community members received a briquette machine purchased by Ngong Road Forest Association (NRFA) . The machine was presented to the community members by the Ngong Road Forest Association Chairman Mr. Simon Woods with some of the officials. The machine will go a long way in providing income for the community members.
Mr Simon Woods the chairman of Ngong Road Forest Association presents the briquette machine
Mr. Phillip Gitahi treasurer at Ngong Road Forest Association demonstrates on how the machine is used
Mr Simon the project coordinator poses with some of the community members
The briquettes machine uses waste materials such as sawdust, polythene paper bags, soil and other waste materials. It will be used by the community members to make the briquettes and sell them and in turn get an income.
Recently one of the rangers was blessed with a baby girl by the name of Stacy. On turning three months the staff members decided to pay the family a visit and welcome her. Hence on Friday evening we all visited baby Stacy.
Upon arrival we were welcomed by the family and we were welcomed with a delicious meal. After the meal we got to hold the baby and presented something small in appreciation of the new born.
On Monday we received students from Banda School who wanted to hold their ecology lesson at the Sanctuary. They arrived at around 9:30 am and were ushered into the sanctuary’s Education Center by the Senior Ranger.
Briefing at the education Center
After a brief introduction and History about the sanctuary they headed to the orientation Banda where they were split into four groups and each group was given equipment they were to use in the various areas of study. Some of the equipment included thermometers and test tubes among others.
Students split into four groups at the orientation Banda
We headed to the forest and the first area of study was at the plantation, here they were to measure the temperature and PH of the soil, light intensity, wind deflection, biodiversity and the human impact to the habitat.
At the eucalyptus plantation
Our second area of study was at the indigenous forest, here we looked at the a biotic factors and how they affect the environment they include, the soil acidity, light radiation, temperature, water and the human impact.
The final area of study was to fill a questionnaire with the assistance of the rangers some of the questions included what they thought might happen to the forest if the Sanctuary did not exist, and to give examples of resources people remove from the forest illegally . Once they had filled the questionnaires they headed back to the Banda for a snack before they headed back to their school.
Filling in the questionnaires
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My colleague Steve and I were on our normal patrols we were headed towards Kibera when I got a call from Mike Davidson one of our trustees he informed me that he was headed to the sanctuary’s main gate for he wanted to visit the crowned eagle nest to check if it had hatched and also take a walk in the mini nature trail.
We hurriedly rushed back and we found that he had just arrived. We exchanged pleasantries and immediately headed to the mini nature trail. We were almost at the crowned eagle nest when we saw a red duiker feeding on the recently planted tree seedlings on seeing us it rushed into the nearby thicket.
When we arrived at the crowned eagle we found the mother feeding the juvenile. The crown eagle uses the same nest for many years until a new pair inherits it. The nest is mainly made of sticks and lined with fresh green branches. The eagle adds new material to the nest each year, and overtime, the nest can grow up to 8 feet. When the mother noticed us it flew away but not before raising alarm and the chick sunk deep into the nest. We had to wait patiently for it to resurface and it did and the mother returned to the nest but did not take her eyes off us.
at the crowned eagle nest
After taking a few pictures of the crowned eagle we headed back to the main gate.
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Silver Oak also known as the silky oak is an evergreen tree, usually 18-15m with steeply ascending branch forming a narrow crown, foliage grey-green.it has a grey-brown bark peeling vertically termite resistant. It is a very valuable tree and much liked by wood carvers.
For the entire period that I have been engaged in Ngong Forest Sanctuary as a ranger, I have witnessed the number of the silver oak tree dwindling year after year and in most of the forest section what can be seen its stamp to signify its one day presence. The blame cannot be put on rangers as most of the poachers have always been arrested and the vehicles that they use to furry the logs to the market confiscated , which after sometime the culprits are out of jail and back to business again.
Freshly cut trees
With development taking place such as the construction of the southern by pass, which has contributed to great loss of the silver oak as the road passes in between the forest. The construction of bypass intersection which was mainly inhabited by the silver oak made its numbers drop drastically only a few were lucky ones survived .The poachers and not willing to spare them as we have witnessed freshly cuts trees on our forest patrols. The poachers work has been done easier by the by pass road as they can easily transport the logs.
Stiff measures need to be taken soon or within no time we won’t have any sliver oak trees
Story by Nicholas Akach