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Community, Wildlife and Environment Research and Lectures

Overview

Biodiversity Conservation is a growing interdisciplinary approach that focuses on the importance of a healthy and functioning ecosystem and how this is only possible if all aspects of life from soils to clean air and water and forests as well as the diversity of species including humans are all considered as interdependent for the earth’s survival. “Recent approaches to conservation widely recognise that biodiversity protection in isolation from people’s needs does not work – for conservation of wildlife and habitats, or for the people affected. It is often poor and vulnerable people who are most dependent on biodiversity resources as a basis for making a living” (The Darwin Initiative).

Therefore, the Community, Wildlife and Environment (CWE) Lectures are a series of tailored-made talks designed to complement hands-on participatory activities under the Sagala Conservation Programme. Overall the aim is to provide additional knowledge to some of the major issues tackled under Biodiversity Conservation and to ensure that school teams have a clear understanding of how each target area with the programme (i.e. community, wildlife and the environment) are all interdependent upon one another and none can be looked at in isolation.

Purpose

To increase visitor awareness of the importance of Biodiversity Conservation.

Objectives

  • To provide a theoretical foundation to key thematic areas in the Sagala Conservation programme.
  • To increase interest in Biodiversity Conservation.
  • To examine the importance of interdependence of communities, wildlife and the environment.
  • To link and compliment CWE Activities

Principal CWE lecture and Research Concepts

Each lecture will deal with a separate but related issue. The following topics have been identified:

1. Human-Wildlife Conflict

As human populations expand and natural habitats shrink, people and animals are increasingly coming into conflict over living space and food. The impacts are often huge. People lose their crops, livestock, property, and sometimes their lives. The animals, many of which are already threatened or endangered, are often killed in retaliation or to ‘prevent’ future conflicts. Human-wildlife conflict is one of the main threats to the continued survival of many species, in many parts of the world, and is also a significant threat to many local human populations. And, if solutions to conflicts are not adequate, local support for conservation also declines. Human-wildlife conflict is occurring more and more in Kenya and is particularly problematic where human populations’ border national parks.

2. The Bushmeat Crisis

The killing of wild animals in Africa for food is known as the ‘bushmeat trade’. It is one of the biggest threats to the survival and welfare of wildlife today. Until recently, bushmeat was mainly eaten to supplement a low protein human diet, and the capture of animals was done in a sustainable way. Today, bushmeat hunting, or poaching, has evolved from a low level activity to a large national and international commercial trade.

In Kenya the most common form of capturing animals is through snares which are made from metal wires. It is one of the most indiscriminate and painful methods of catching wild animals.

Snares trap and tighten around the caught animal, causing a slow and agonising death. Permanent injuries are suffered for the few that escape. Snaring is now a commercial business and recent surveys show wildlife populations have decreased by as much as 60% since 1990 in many parts of Africa.

3. Wildlife – An introduction to identifying wildlife

Identifying animals accurately can be a challenge. Sometimes the difference between animals in the same species is subtle, such as the size of their ears or distinctive colouring. Recognizing tracks, scat, food sources, and habitat types also can help you identify animals.

4. An introduction to Agroforestry

Trees play a crucial role in almost all terrestrial ecosystems and provide a range of products and services to rural and urban people. As natural vegetation is cleared for agriculture and other types of development, the benefits that trees provide are best sustained by integrating trees into agriculturally productive landscapes — a practice known as Agroforestry.

Farmers have practised Agroforestry for years. Agroforestry focuses on the wide range of working trees grown on farms and in rural landscapes. Among these are fertilizer trees for land regeneration, soil health and food security; fruit trees for nutrition; fodder trees that improve smallholder livestock production; timber and fuel wood trees for shelter and energy; medicinal trees to combat disease; and trees that produce gums, resins or latex products. Many of these trees are multipurpose, providing a range of benefits.