Ecosystems Under Threat

Ecosystems Under Threat

A few weeks ago, the world’s last male Northern White Rhino, Sudan, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. With Northern Whites preyed upon to near-extinction, Sudan’s death left just two known alive — Najin and Fatu, his daughter and granddaughter. The news, greeted with unsurprising sadness in the conservation world, played out differently in Africa.

The new standard gauge railway

Following the comments on social media, there was a sense of mortification; that something horrible had happened. His death is not only partly a dramatic failure by governments to protect critical nature, but also the first time that we the young generation have seen an extinction in our lifetime, not as a story but something real. In years to come, an ordinary African may need to travel to see elephants or rhinos in zoos or sanctuaries outside Africa, rather than in parks close to them like Nairobi National Park. The park is an important sanctuary. Kenya prides in it being the only national park in a capital city. It has supplied black rhinos to re-stock more than half the rhino sanctuaries in Kenya

Giraffes in the park

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The Tsavo Conservation Area is timeless. It is one of Kenya’s most stunning National Parks, unrivalled in its diversity of landscapes and wildlife. It is home to more than 12,000 elephants, the largest population in Kenya, and has the potential to increase the current population of endangered black rhino. Yet, these two parks are at intense crossroads with the development of a new six lane road. Are we really in dire need of this road? Especially through the Parks, not considering and using the existing road reserve? More than one third of this road will be fenced off inside Tsavo and in the wildlife dispersal areas of Nairobi Park.

Black rhino

And similarly, why build a new road (expressway) while we have not fully utilised the new standard gauge railway? There are those amongst us who feel that the money would have been better used to improve the more needy and old roads than sinking the same amount into new one.

Zebras grazing close to the highway

There have already been warnings like with parts of the continent recently facing the worst drought in recent years, and alarms about cities like Cape Town in South Africa running out of water, there is a sense of disappearing wildlife and wild places are a symbol of deeper anguish, under our watch.

How Tsavo and other ecosystems are being handled depends on visionary policies. Wildlife alone cannot pay for all social needs. Private ranches and conservancies surrounding the park are one way to ease the pressure and allow wildlife to move safely in and out of the park. The fact is, when a park is laid bare, its retention capability is reduced because the root system is destroyed, leading to a cycle of soil erosion and water runoff. While we are still thinking of ideas and ways to tackle problems facing our environment, let’s we not forget that countries like Chad are losing their most reliable source of fresh water, Lake Chad which scientists predict could be drying up.

It’s not yet too late to protect and fight for what we have. We must band together and be heard by the powers that be in order to protect our precious natural resources!

Communities Resilience to Climate Change

Communities Resilience to Climate Change

One practical observation we’ve seen as Amara is how traditional communities always include elements of long-term thinking. The catch-phrase is being aware of how every decision will affect the generations to come, but it’s really more than that, it’s about thinking of how everything will affect the planet and what people sometimes call their “future ancestors”.

Land disturbed due to mining

Elders like the Njavungo Council of Elders in Taita Taveta play an enormously significant role in traditional Kenyan societies, which is something we’ve largely lost in our modern culture. There are often specific roles for women, young people, too. Another common traditional belief is that the people who will live with the consequences of their actions are the ones who should make the decisions. Most people today, when we shop, drive or do any number of things we don’t really see the impact of our actions on the environment. People in rural traditional villages feel those impacts more.

Njavungo Council of Elders

Climate change most strongly affects the poorest, because they are directly dependent on the land. At the same time, they are people who contribute the least to the global human impact on climate. They are the ones first impacted by floods, droughts, sea level shifts, extreme weather, and so on, and they all too often don’t have the resources to put themselves out of harms way.

House of one of the community.

So that means it’s a matter of environmental and climate injustice. Many communities feel that as the worldwide climate becomes less stable, they will be less able to count on relief food coming in from the outside world. Many are trying to revive their self-reliance, for example through maintaining traditional varieties of crops and livestock that is more climate resilient.

As they are trying to make decisions on their traditional territory based on all the resources that land provides, and not just what corporations like logging or mining companies can get out of it. Climate change is impacting many of the things we love and cherish, its changing the seasons, upsetting the crops that feed us and affecting precious species. Together let’s protect the world we love from these effects and make sure our love is felt by those can make a world of difference.

One practical observation we’ve seen as Amara is how traditional communities always include elements of long-term thinking. The catch-phrase is being aware of how every decision will affect the generations to come, but it’s really more than that, it’s about thinking of how everything will affect the planet and what people sometimes call their “future ancestors”.

Land disturbed due to mining

Elders like the Njavungo Council of Elders in Taita Taveta play an enormously significant role in traditional Kenyan societies, which is something we’ve largely lost in our modern culture. There are often specific roles for women, young people, too. Another common traditional belief is that the people who will live with the consequences of their actions are the ones who should make the decisions. Most people today, when we shop, drive or do any number of things we don’t really see the impact of our actions on the environment. People in rural traditional villages feel those impacts more.

Njavungo Council of Elders

Climate change most strongly affects the poorest, because they are directly dependent on the land. At the same time, they are people who contribute the least to the global human impact on climate. They are the ones first impacted by floods, droughts, sea level shifts, extreme weather, and so on, and they all too often don’t have the resources to put themselves out of harms way.

House of one of the community.

So that means it’s a matter of environmental and climate injustice. Many communities feel that as the worldwide climate becomes less stable, they will be less able to count on relief food coming in from the outside world. Many are trying to revive their self-reliance, for example through maintaining traditional varieties of crops and livestock that is more climate resilient.

As they are trying to make decisions on their traditional territory based on all the resources that land provides, and not just what corporations like logging or mining companies can get out of it. Climate change is impacting many of the things we love and cherish, its changing the seasons, upsetting the crops that feed us and affecting precious species. Together let’s protect the world we love from these effects and make sure our love is felt by those can make a world of difference.

The Tsavo West National Park is a section of one of the largest wildlife conservancies on the planet, as well as one of Kenya’s largest wildlife national parks. It is well-known for its resident population of Red Elephants as well as the tale of the Tsavo Man-eaters. Unfortunately, most of the communities bordering these parks have never had a chance to visit them due to the cost. For these reasons Amara organizes game drives with Purdue University students each year into Tsavo West National Park. We also encourage children to form Wildlife Clubs and embrace their wildlife and environment. This year Mrabenyi Secondary School in Taita Taveta County had the opportunity to tour the vast Park and interact with the University students from USA.

 

tHistorically, the Tsavo Area is renowned for the Man-eaters of Tsavo, two mane-less lions who developed a taste to prey on humans back in the early 1900’s (various reasons are cited for this, one recently being that they suffered from tooth decay and pain that made hunting difficult for them!). Although they were later shot, they killed many people that were constructing the railway line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi. Additionally, it was the main battlefield between the Germans and the Britons in Africa in the course of World War I. Currently the area is very peaceful and is now famous for its resident Red-colored Elephants, that enjoy dust-bathing in the red colored soil. The serene environment of Tsavo comes mainly with thorny bushland, open grasslands and among the most beautiful scenic areas are; the Yatta plateau, the World’s longest lava flow stretching 290km; Mzima springs; Shetani Lava Flow; Chaimu Hill; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.

 

 

 

 

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