Mount Kenya Trust
|Project Location||Mount Kenya National Reserve, Eastern and Central district, Kenya|
|Project Type||Wildlife and habitat conservation, Endangered species protection|
|Endangered Species||Mountain bongo, African elephant, colobus monkey|
|Land Area Protected||2114 km2|
|Local People Employed||22|
Mount Kenya Trust
The Mount Kenya National Park situated on the equator was established in 1949 and the mountain and its forests have been listed as a Biosphere Reserve (1978) and as a World Heritage Site (1997). The Mount Kenya forest zone is the largest remaining in Kenya and its ecosystem as a whole plays a critical role in water catchment for two main rivers in the country, the Tana and Ewaso Ngiro. Millions of Kenyans rely on these rivers for their livelihoods and the vast majority of people and the Kenyan economy rely on electricity generated by these rivers. Varying geographical conditions on Mount Kenya contribute to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The forest zones alone house a rich biological diversity with 81 known endemic species. There are several wildlife species dwelling within the natural forest including mammals of international conservation interest such as bongo, black rhino, giant forest hog and leopard and a population of approximately 2,000 elephants.
The Mount Kenya Trust (MKT) was set up to facilitate the long-term conservation of the biodiversity of the National Reserve and to reduce conflict situations between local communities and the elephants. Mt. Kenya has effectively become an ‘island’ surrounded by dense settlement and agriculture, resulting in confinement of its elephant population, and increased incidences of human elephant conflict. The Trust has installed a two strand electric elephant fence in the main conflict areas and successfully reduced the incidents of human wildlife conflict. Tusk has been a supporter of the Trust for six years and made the Trust a beneficiary of the annual Safaricom Marathon.
Alleviating human-wildlife conflict
Human-wildlife conflict is a significant problem on Mount Kenya. Her forests are home to around 2,000 elephants that once roamed freely between the mountain and other safe habitats. Now dense populations surround our protected areas and conservancies. Farming along the slopes of Mount Kenya is particularly intense and elephants trying to leave the safety of the forests cause huge damage to crops and sometimes injure or, in rare incidences, even kill people as they battle to save their livelihoods.
With the help of the communities the Trust has erected over 100km of two-strand electric fences on the western side of the mountain, and will continue to work on the eastern side of the mountain later this year, in order to minimize conflict. The fences are immensely valuable to communities living on the boundary of the National Reserve and the Trust has found that people who no longer suffer from crop raiding and elephant movement are in general far more open to environmental education and willing to take part in conservation activities once the fences are in place.
In more recent years funds from the Safaricom Marathon have been used to help set up the Trust’s new anti-poaching unit, the Joint Wildlife Protection Team. This is a unique team made up of community scouts who have been trained by Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and KWS personnel.
Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor Project
The Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor Project is a unique and ambitions initiative, which was completed in 2010. The hugely successful project allows elephants to move safely from the north-west side of Mount Kenya to the Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve and north in a pattern similar to historical migration routes. Elephants are moving up and down the corridor on a daily basis in numbers that have surpassed even the most positive expectations. The corridor by-passes a major road using an innovative elephant underpass. The Dutch Government and Virgin Atlantic have funded the majority of the construction costs to date and Tusk has provided funding to support the game guards that will patrol the corridor route.
Mount Kenya Horse Patrol Team
The Mount Kenya Trust, in conjunction with KWS, has set up a horse patrol team to monitor wildlife populations and prevent illegal forest activities (such as illegal logging) on the mountain. The mounted team, the first of its kind in the area, patrol on Ethiopian ponies, a very hardy breed well suited for high altitude conditions and rough terrain. The Trust has employed four men from the local communities and five KWS rangers were trained alongside the MKT recruits. With the addition of horses, the new team is able to cover more ground and has a distinct advantage when approaching and chasing poachers who operate on foot.
The Mount Kenya '10 to 4'
The Mount Kenya ‘10 TO 4’ Mountain Bike Challenge is a unique event via spectacular wildlife rich forests and bush habitats, wheat farms and settlements that takes riders from 10 to 4,000ft! The event raises funds for one of Kenya’s most vital water sources, wildlife and forest habitats. For more details visit the 10 to 4 website www.10to4.org
Through the Safaricom Marathon Kenya-Wide Fund, Tusk has been able to support MKT on an annual basis with grants to cover operational costs of the JAWPT and the Horse Patrol. In addition the Trustees of Tusk gave a special grant in 2011 to commemorate the wedding gift for TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to rebuild the accommodation and stables for the Horse Patrol Unit.
The Mount Kenya Trust has two foot patrol teams and a horse patrol team based on the mountain as well as a fourth team monitoring the Mount Kenya elephant corridor. We work with the local women’s groups and the Kenya Forest Service to replant degraded areas with indigenous trees. Favouring a holistic approach to conservation, the Trust combines education, empowerment, employment and human / wildlife convict mitigation with each of our projects. Protecting the integrity of the biodiversity and, by extension, the ecosystem services provided by Mount Kenya’s water catchment areas is essential to the Trust’s core mission. Our teams monitor wildlife and illegal forest activity, destroy snares and traps, and record incidences of logging, charcoal burning and elephant mortalities.