After the overwhelming support that has been given by our friends and sponsors for the greater ecosystem game count that started about a week ago with the Nairobi National Park game count, preparations are now underway for the last two sections of the wet season counts i.e. Kitengela, Isinya and Kipeto ground counts (1st, 2nd and 3rd Triangles respectively).
With technical support from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) which has provided the equipments to be used for the whole exercise including GPSs, Range Finders, Maps, and compasses, training for the Kitengela and Isinya ground counts kicked off early on Tuesday morning with Shem Kifugo of ILRI providing his expertise and leading the training for the enumerators who are community members. FoNNaP is not undertaking this exercise just for the sake of it but we realize that we have a big role to play in influencing decisions that are made in relation to the park and the greater ecosystem and thus there is need for us to back our reasoning with sound scientific evidence. It is for this very reason that the training had to be undertaken and the counting will be done in a systematic manner using sound scientific procedures.
The first day of the training for the 25 enumerators for the 1st 2 triangles was in deed intensive and the Sheep and Goat land in the Kitengela was turned into a classroom where the students were given practical lessons on handling and using the GPSs, reading maps, using Rangefinders and compasses, and filling in data sheets as well as the actual game counting and recording.
More than half of the enumerators under training were taking a refresher course as they had undergone training on the same several times with ILRI. Some had participated in the counts in 2004 and others had participated in the fence mapping exercise recently carried out by ILRI. This made work easier for Shem as those who already had the knowledge on the use of the equipments assisted the new comers and formed part of the training team. Shem says this is the best approach as people tend to understand their peers faster than when a person from outside tries explain things. Some of the members of this team will be used for the training in Kipeto where the enumerators have not had previous training and/or experience in game counting. The students were very enthusiastic about the whole training and counting and although we had planned to stay for just an hour or so because we had started a bit late, we ended up taking some 3 – 4 hours and they did not mind at all. All that had been planned for day 1 of the training was accomplished and everyone in the team did not mind walking some 3 km which was covered on this particular day. The training is now on its third day and will end tomorrow. Counting starts on Saturday and will run for consecutively 10 days in Kitengela and 12 days in Isinya. ILRI will the receive the data collected, enter it into their systems and make analysis and will then give the final results and report.
While the aerial counts conducted by the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing only took 2 days, the Nairobi National Park counts, a few hours and the Athi Kapiti Ranches some four days, the ground counts for the Kitengela and Kipeto will take longer as the counts will be done on foot! Yes, the enumerators will be covering some 20 or so kilometers per day and they don’t mind at all! We thank them for their support and willingness to take part in this very important exercise.
Many thanks go to our sponsors and donors who have overwhelmingly responded to our call to support this exercise. Congratulations to our Chairman, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, who has spend sleepless nights and days running up and down, writing proposals and managed to get over 1 million Kenya shillings for the whole exercise in less than 2 weeks!!! Her enthusiasm is inspiring.
Our gratitude to the following individuals and organizations who have contributed both in kind and financially:
Wildlife Direct KES. 660,000.00
African Wildlife Foundation KES. 420,000.00
African Fund for Endangered Wildlife KES. 150,000.00
Rex Dobie KES. 50,000.00
Wildlife Direct (National Geographic Big Cat Initiative) KES. 40,000.00
Paula Kahumbu and Andrew KES. 20,000.00
Steven Blakeway KES. 15,000.00
Wahida Patwa Shah & Family KES. 10,000.00
Dino Martins KES. 5,000.00
East African Women’s League KES. 5,000.00
Joan & Davinder Sikand KES. 5,000.00
Mrs. M. S. Cheffings KES. 5,000.00
Zaheeda Suleiman KES. 2,000.00
Doris Schaule KES. 2,000.00
Pauline Vaughan KES. 2,000.00
Kimberley Maunder KES. 1,000.00
Irinah Wandera KES. 1,000.00
Shem Kifugo, ILRI – Training of enumerators
ILRI – Providing equipment (GPSs, Rangefinders, compasses, maps)
Simon Thomsett and volunteers who undertook the exercise in the Kapiti Ranches.
FoNNaP volunteers who assisted with the Nairobi National Park Game Count
Sandy Simpson who provided a vehicle for the Kitengela training exercise
John Mwangi who also provided a vehicle for the Kitengela training exercise
And to all our friends who have continued supporting us.
Planning for the October dry season counts soon follows and we hope these counts will now be taking place each year as opposed to leaving gaps in the years.