By Charlotte Beauvoisin and Amy Roll
In 21st century conservation circles, it is widely assumed that for conservation to be successful, human communities need to benefit. The benefits usually come in the form of jobs, community project such as schools or some training opportunities.
Improvements in human health are rarely discussed leave alone the potentially lethal impact of untreated human health issues on animal health and conservation.
One pioneering East African conservation organization that is successfully tackling these issues is Conservation Through Public Health.
In 1996, Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) founder and CEO, Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, was working as the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s first veterinarian in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in the southwest of the country. Bwindi is one of the few places where the 880 critically endangered mountain gorillas can still be found.
She experienced firsthand how fragile the balance between wildlife and human health is when she led a team managing a scabies skin disease outbreak among the mountain gorillas. Ruhara, an infant gorilla had died from a scabies outbreak that was eventually traced back to the communities living around the park. It was discovered that the gorillas had gone in to people’s gardens in search of bananas and got infected with scabies after coming into contact the clothes of people who had the disease.Add a comment
By Darcy Ogada
We set out for northern Kenya in May when the area was awash in floodwaters, clearly the worst of times to be traveling into a place whose roads are notoriously treacherous at the best of times.
Two vehicles, two drivers, three raptor recorders, one homeguard for 14 days of surveys.
Our aim was to count raptors, all of those that we could see from our vehicle windows. Counting raptors from a moving vehicle is really the only method to quickly assess their numbers over such a vast area.
An area whose list of pending large-scale developments reads like an 8-year old’s list to Santa Claus -- long and growing. Damming of the Omo River, the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPPSET) project, oil extraction, the largest wind farm in sub-Saharan Africa, multiple high voltage power lines, and a dam called Crocodile Jaws.Add a comment
By Washington Wachira
As I tip-toed behind a large Newtonia tree along the Karura River, I heard a spine-chilling scream! I aimed my binoculars upwards and marveled at the sight of a Harvey’s Duiker being grabbed by the largest African Crowned Eagle I have ever seen.
Turning right, I saw a large but gentle young eagle in a huge nest. Its white plumage stood out in the dark forest canopy as the parent put the duiker in the nest. The young bird quickly left with the hind limb of the duiker and headed for a feeding patch on a neighbouring tree.
Birds of prey are avian predators characterized by their keen vision, strong hooked bills and powerful talons. They are often called “raptors”, a name derived from Latin the word rapere, which means to seize or take by force.
There is a wide variety of raptors -- from Eagles, Hawks, Secretarybird, Kites, Falcons [including Kestrels], Owls, Buzzards, Vultures and Osprey. Africa has 89 diurnal raptors and 31 owl species. Eagles are especially famous, the largest being the Martial Eagle, and the most powerful, the African Crowned Eagle.
The Martial Eagle, scanning the savannah for gazelle fawns, the lightning-fast stoop of a Lanner Falcon swooping in for a sandgrouse, the smooth and silent flight of a Barn Owl skimming over farmlands for mice, the leisurely soar of a White-backed Vulture browsing the grasslands for carrion. Awesome!Add a comment
By Rupi Mangat
Esther Kajos describes the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) using body language -- her lithe torso creating a wave-like action.
“The plants move with the waves like this,” she says. Other women nod in agreement.
The women dressed in tattered rags are of the ll Chamus tribe on the island of Ol Kokwe in the middle of the fresh water, Lake Baringo, one of the chain of lakes on the floor of the Great Rift Valley. The Il Chamus is amongst the smallest tribes in Kenya, with few resources and historically known as the fish-eating Nilotes famously seen fishing on the il-kadish, a buoyant raft.
In the Il Chamus language there is no word for the insidious water hyacinth -- a fresh water plant from the Amazon in South America that was introduced in the early 1900s in African freshwaters as an ornamental plant.
Free from any pests on a new continent, the ornamental plant has turned into an invasive that threatens all fresh water bodies in Kenya and beyond. It has already created havoc in Lake Victoria including destroying the Nairobi Dam. It doubles its mass every 14 days in optimum condition and the danger is not in what you see -- but what you don’t see. The seeds of the water hyacinth burst out with such force that they lie buried underground -- and germinate -- even after 30 years when conditions are right.Add a comment