Category Archives: Ngong Forest

FENCE VANDALISIM CONTINUES AT THE NGONG FOREST!!!!!

Fence vandalisim has been the greatest challenge to the protection of Ngong Forest. This is because a big part of the fence that once surrounded the forest has been stolen, hence exposing the indeginous forest to tree poachers. Without a fence to protect the forest people can easily access the forest for illegal business without being easily detected.

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The Vandalised fence

With only six rangers it has been an uphill task to protect the forest effectively as there has been an increase of insecurity in the nearby estates and the thugs ran into the forest for solace after they commit crimes.

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The on going fence vandalisim.

However the sanctuary has not given up in protecting the forest and its trying to raise funds to re- install the vandalised fence.The rangers constantly patrol and keenly monitor the fenced part of the forest by checking its voltage. When they notice that the voltage has dropped a promt partol is done immediatley to find out the cause.

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Ranger cheking the voltage

So it was on Tuesday night that we encounterd two men busy cutting the fence wires about two kilometers from the main gate.We managed to nab one of the thugs while the other managed to escape. We took the culpit to Jamuhuri Police Station and was to be arraigned in court the next day. Mr David was the name of the arrested thug, his friend who manged to escape later presented himself disguising as a concerned relative of the other culprit but we managed to arrest him even though he denied any allegations made to him. The sanctuary however has to meet the cost of replacing the vandalised fence. It has been very frustrating watching the fence dissapear a bit by a bit.

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The accomplise who came to secure realease for his friend

Story by: Ranger Karanja

KENTON COLLEGE STUDY HABITAT IN THE FOREST.

Kenton College students arrived at the forest as early as 9.00am for a habitat study. They were divided into four groups each to study one habitat at a time such that when one group was studying woodlands another would be studying aquatic and another grasslands. The fourth group would be undertaking an activity to find the number of organisms in one of the habitats using a mathematical way of estimating the population size. The four habitat study were to take part simultaneously each taking approximately45 minutes after which the groups would change to another habitat.

students studying habitats

With all the activity ahead, there was no time to waste so the students were given a brief history of the forest and there after we proceed to the forest, each group going to its designated habitat. I was with the group which was going to study the woodland habitat so the moment we entered the forest I asked them to to  observe and listen carefully in order to find out its organisms. Some of the organism they identified were the trees of different species and sizes, different types of plants, shrubs, climbers, fallen and decomposing leaves, twigs, fruits and nut shell among many other producers.

Looking for insects

The presence of various primary and secondary consumers was evident as we could see bird nests, spider webs, footprints, and animal trucks which helped us identify the primary and secondary consumers within the habitat although we couldn’t spot all of them. Animal calls and sounds was also an indication of the presence of other organisms that were out of sight.

After thoroughly studying and describing the habitat and the producers present, we had to study one of its primary and secondary consumers  among others that we had seen. In two groups we chose crickets as a primary and African  paradise fly catcher as its secondary consumer, The other group chose  the butterfly as a primary consumer which is also eaten  by the African paradise catcher.

Students studying

In the grassland habitat all the four groups noted the vertical stratification of woodland of the woodland habitat whereby different vegetation formed different leaves. Among the animals that all groups were able to see were Birds, Sunis, Skype Monkeys, Wasps, Safari ants among many other small insects.  The students finished by writing  a food chain of the organism they had studied noting their relationship and what would happen if one of them was to be moved.  We all agreed that if that was to happen the population of some would decrease breaking the food chain.

students at the Aquatic Habitat Story By: Joseph Karanja

Email:    [email protected]

It’s Maasai Cattle Versus Community Bees for limited Forest space

The Maasai community is the most dominant pastoral in East Africa. They measure their wealth in terms of herd sizes which on average numbers in hundreds.During the dry seasons, the Maasai pastoralists are allowed to graze in specific areas of the Ngong Forest after being issued with permits by the Kenya Forest Service. To guard against degradation, only limited herds are allowed. This limitation is however not honoured by the herders who cunningly invite their relatives and friends to join in the party. This sees the forest hosting upto three times it’s normal carrying capacity. The result is aggressive competition for the limited forest space and resources.

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A grazing herd of Maasai cattle

Ngong Road Forest Sanctuary also host a number of community projects .The most successful project is a community women bee keeping enterprise in which a group of 40 women have established 3 apiaries located in separate sites within the forest. These apiary sites are non grazing zones and the Maasai herders are well aware of this but on several occassions ,they invade the zones after exhausting grass in other areas. This has occassionally led to conflicts as the herders view the stinging bees as a hindrance to their cattle’s grazing freedom. In an effort to rid their herds of the bees menace, the herders turn to vandalizing the hives and in the process harvest some of the honey which they use to prepare traditional brew as well as medicine.

This destruction of hives is carried out secretely ussually at dawn when the bees are resting and also when the Forest Rangers are just retiring from their night patrols.

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A damaged active hive

Yesterday a community member collecting firewood in the forest when he saw an old maasai man literally destroying a bee hive. He rushed to our camp and reported the incidence. On arriving at the site, we found the old man and two young men carrying on with their act of vandalism. To our surprise, our presence did not seem to bother the old man who played innocence and maintained that his cattle was more important than anything else.

We arrested the Old man and his two young assistants and handed them to the police for action.

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The arrested old man and his two young assistants

We hope this will be a lesson to the rest of herders and bring relief to the aggrieved community women who rely on the sale of honey for their livelihood.

Akach Nicholas

Running in the forest has made them proud

Riruta central school is located in an estate. In its urban setting,the school has no sporting grounds .The only place they are assured of is the Telcom grounds and Ngong Forest sanctuary,which are located approximately 2km.

A number of the students are athletics, the schools coach Gregory Kilonzo has been with the school for many years,he has been training them in the forest for 2-3 days in a week. The forest forms a condusive enviromet for this kind of training. They have been able to dorminate locally and internationally in athletics.

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Team training in the forest

Some of the famous athletees who are from these school are Pauline Korikwang who won a gold medal in 6km race in Fukoka Japan, Moses Massai who won bronze medal in 10000km race in olympic Beijing- China ,Elizabeth Mwoni, world junior silver medalist steeple chase in Polland.This year coach Gregory Kilonzo was able to produce two athleticians to represent Kenya in 37th world junior cross country in Amman Jordan, they were Nelly Chebet who was in 6km race and Pauline Korikwong 8km women race.

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School athletic team

With the good training environment, the school was able to scoop 11 top position in the provincial secondary school athletics that was held in Hill Crest Secondary school.

Currently, the school team is preparing for the National secondary school championship that will be held in Embu-Kenya.The coach hopes to clinch all the top position as his team is well prepared for the event.

We are proud to be associated with them,and as we campaign to protect the forest,we welcome non consumptive utilization of this adorable resource, Riruta School is an example.

by [email protected]

Herbalist Pose Threat To Endangered Tree Species

During our patrols, we have noted there is another form of tree destruction taking place. It involves removal of tree bark for medicinal value. Some parts of the forest are not affected but the problem seems to be in the forest part adjacent to Kibera slum. Everyday we have to get two to three trees completely debarked.

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a ranger showing a debarked tree


Formerly herbalists were allowed to debark medicinal tree (were issued with permits and were always accompanied by rangers), currently, there has been increased debarking by illegal herbalists. According to our views we suggest that the people who debark trees have a booming business in the slum and that is why they come daily to fetch it. Effort to trace them has been fruitless. You can imagine how many trees die per a year as a result careless debarking.

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a dead debarked tree

We have noted two major species of trees are the targeted since they are highly valued to cure many ailments. They are:
1. Local name: Muthiga
English: African green Heart
Scientific name: Warbugia ugadensis

2. Local Name: Mutanga
Scientific Name: Elaedendron buchananii.

This two species are endangered in Ngong forest, efforts to replant them were strained by effects of maasai cattle that were allowed to graze in the forest due to draught.
By Nicholas Akach
[email protected]

fence sabotage

Ngong forest,like any other natural setting has suffered from exploitation. To minimize the rate of exploitaion in 2003, an electric fence was erected to cover a total of 600ha which is now the Ngong Road Forest Sanctuary.

Not all measures will work as expected, even with this high voltage fence, enemies of conservation will still find their way in!

One of our camps, Hillcrest camp, due to limited number of rangers, only one of the rangers was located at this point,he evacated due to increased threats by thugs.our rangers are not armed and also the introduction of the Nairobi Southern bypass that cut across the sanctuary opening access to the forest thus increased insecurity cases.

The fence controll unit in Hillcrest camp that was located inside a container (these are residential units for the rangers)was stolen,this included:energizers ,batteries and solar panels rendering the fence powerless and prone to damagers.

have a look at this,

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This is the point where the energizer and batteries were located inside a “container” at the Hillcrest camp

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a similar complete and funtional controll unit at the main gate

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the “container” remains which are chipped off by thugs including the solar panels that were located at the roof.

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potion of the fence where there is no current flow,the forest intruders use this as the entry point including huge herds of maasai cattle.

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after cutting the wire its coiled together and ready to be carried by thugs

As a result,an approximate a length of 5km of the fence is unfunctional since it was served by the controll unit in Hillcrest camp.

Having the 23km perimeter fence functional is our aim,we are able to maintain the 18km already functional ,but currently we are financially constrained and we can not meet the urgent need to maintain the remaining unfunctional 5km fence ,we are therefore appealing for your help, to aid in revival of the hillcrest camp and to have the system powered again.

Nothing will initiate a smile on our face, than to see your response to help protect this adorable resource.

Thank you.

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more on the bee project

a few minutes ago,we again had a chance to visit the apiary, with hopeful minds at least to get if not more but a few kilos of honey.

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a woman dressed in full attire holding a frame which contain honey

I learnt that the honey is held in a frame(above shown), the white patch is a form of seal to hold the honey.

A full packed frame weigh about 1kg,this is what the community women sell to the honey processing firm at a cost of Ksh. 100.(a well buying honey processing farm, this would go to ksh. 150 per 1kg)

During seasons when the bees can find enough nector, the sell is high and on avarage each woman goes home with at least Ksh 2000 per harvest per week.

but this is not always the case, when the bees can hardly find food/nector, there is nothing to harvest! like today we went back empty handed!speaking to one of them “for the last five months, we have had no harvest, the conditions have not been favourable for the bees due to food inadequancy, and the prolonged sunny conditions makes it even worse”.

We are all aware of the climatical changes, its not times when one could easily predict the weather,its not more to relay on traditional methods,and just the same way, these woman groups can nolonger predict the food patterns that is dependent on the prevailing weather conditions which again affect the magnitude of their harvest.

the challange is: how then can they supplement the food/nector inorder to restore their normal harvest?

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Pressure mounts on

Pressure mounts on

English Name:Silver Oak

Botanical Name: Brachyleane huillensis

Local Name: Muhugu

In one of our normal patrols, we came across 30 pieces of Silver Oak tree cut in hidden in the forest.

The tree is on demand for carving because of its good quality wood, it carves easily and polishes well with a good finish .

This tree is also used as firewood, poles,posts, carving as well as ornamental

Ngong forest is among one of the very few places in East Africa where this species exists naturally but recently huge volumes have been cleared.

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A freshly cut silver oak stump cut.

The mature trees are increasingly becoming scarce. Recently we managed to recover some already carved items from a wood carving yard in the neighbouring Kibera slum.

In a recent Forestry Sector Outlook Study ,The Kenya woodcarving industry uses over 50,000 trees equivalent to almost 8,000 cubic meters of wood annually. This is equivalent to 10 trees being felled per hectares of natural closed-canopy in Kenya every year.

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Display of some carvings made from silver Oak

We suspect this illegal activity happens during the night since our rangers are always on ground parol during the day.

we have also erected an electric fence all round the sanctuary to minimize entry.

Do you have other ideas we can implement?

Please share with us

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From our ranger’s desk

Meet George Thuo, a forest ranger at Ngong Road Forets Sanctuary . I really like being within the forest atmosphere or other enviromental resources. I used to have a tree nursery in Nyandarua North District where i used to distribute different tree species to individuas and institutions like Kanjuiri secondary School. When i was in National Youth Services college,i gathered more information on conservation from the Enviromental Officer who encouraged me to join an enviromental institution. This is the basis of my interest in conservation.

In 2005, i joined the Sanctuary as a ranger. i was deployed at Bomas camp before being shifted to Hillcrest Camp. with my colleagues, we faced a lot of challanges due to the increased illegal loggers,herbalists and robbers. In Hillcrest camp, i served for 1 year inspite of being alone in the camp because we are very few ranger,currently amounting to 6,it is no doubt that we can not make to cover the whole of the forest, which is 600ha. though we receive support from Forest Guards from Kenya Forest Service,(through an MOU to conserve this forest) we still need addation of the rangers to be able to effectively man the forest.

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George showing a felled tree by loggers

My experiences with the tree loggers has not been any interesting, sometimes they are armed and i have to retrieve,they evenat times turn to be hostile! for instance, there is a day i struggled with three robbers, they overpowered me and got into my work station,stole some assets which included 12 solar panels,energizers,batteries,monitors and some other electric fence gadgets.maybe i would have secured this items ,but unfortunately we are not armed!

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demonstration on how forest intruders find their way to the forest under the electrified fence

I moved to the main gate camp. forest destruction is still happening. sometimes when am on my normal patrols,mostly i encounter the loggers,i first assess their strength and decide on which action to take, i either arrest them ,scare them or ask for assistance from the other rangers or guards. action is dependent on the nature of the situation.

I congraturate the Trust for their efforts to conserve this adorable forest,and i know they really need your back up! The idea is very positive and effective and i have also decided to join hands to fight for the survival of this forest, for who would not like to see a forest in the city? do u know how it feels to stand in a natural setting in a city and surrounded by slums?the trees can tell this much more better!

In my view, we need more armed guards and reestablishment of the Hillcrest camp.

til next time.

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Fire Outbreak in the forest

I stayed the whole day manning the main camp gate.  Everybody was out to celebrate Christmas.  At 3: 00 pm, my colleague, Joseph and Ranger Senkenkei attached to Kenya Forest Service arrived; we sat there chatting about how people were celebrating Christmas.

 

Some minutes to six in the evening, we got an emergency call from the project co-coordinator alerting us about a fire out break in the forest.  It was strange but we needed to act fast before the fire spread to other parts of the forest.  We organized ourselves and left Joseph manning the gate and I and Ranger Senkenkei left for the site which was not very far from the camp, we had to take a shorter route through the Ngong Racecourse golf course since it was busy that day as many people seemed to have left for Christmas

 

On our way, we saw two warthogs, grazing on the grass on the horse track.  This drew our attention as it had been long since we had seen warthogs.  But since we had an emergency we had to proceed to the site.  

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Warthogs grazing at Ngong Racecourse 

By good luck we found that the fire had already been contained and only some tree stumps were smoldering.  We borrowed jerricans from the people leaving next to the forest; they were supportive and gave us the jerricans filled with water, which we poured on to the tree stumps and all the places that were still producing smoke.

 

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Putting off the fire 

It took us about one hour to finish all the areas that had caught fire.  We kept vigil for some minutes to see if the fire would start again.  On seeing that things were alright we proceeded back to the camp.