For the last nine months, Word Forest has been working closely with the Murang’a Youth Bunge County Forum CBO (MYBCF) in Kenya to find ways to help their Tulinde Bongo Project taking place in the Kmakia, Gatare and Wanjerere ranges of the Aberdares Forest, approximately 3 hours north of Nairobi. This amazing project covers a range of activities, with one goal, to help protect and save the Mountain Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus ssp. isaaci), a forest antelope and a subspecies of the Bongo Antelope.
From the 1970s, these coppery brown animals with white stripes and spiral horns have been in danger of poaching, exposed by the communities living in the areas surrounding the Aberdares. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has named the Mountain Bongo as critically endangered. Mary Wambui, MYBCF’s Ambassador, states:“As we speak, we have less than a hundredMountain Bongos in Kenya according to a recent post by Kenya’s Nation media house. The heartbreaking part of this sad story is that fifty of the last of these antelope species have been domesticated in a conservancy at Mt Kenya region for their protection. These nocturnal antelope species survive in thick forests, but unfortunately they have been poached for meat and skins as trophies to almost extinction.”
Part of the planned project includes planting approximately 200,000 saplings within the Aberdares Forest. The reforestation and habitat replacement will enable the Mountain Bongo conservation, as well as play a part in carbon sequestration.
Word Forest is delighted to announce that it has been able to facilitate a first phase planting of 4224 saplings to initiate the project in the Wanjerere Forest area of the Aberdares Range.
To make sure the correct species of trees were used, members of MYBCF team met with a Kenyan Forestry Service Forester based in the Aberdares Forest, and also a graduate of wildlife management who worked at the Mount Kenya Conservancy where the 50 sheltered Mountain Bongo antelopes reside. On their advice, 1400 Podocarpus, 1000 Olea Africanus, 912 Prunus Africana and 912 Syzgiumguinese saplings were planted by 44 youths employed by MYBCF over two and a half days.
Murang’a Youth Bunge County Forum CBO was formed in 2011 with the aim of turning around fortunes for youth. It has grown from strength to strength in exposing young people to leadership development opportunities through community service projects. The youth become instrumental in finding solutions to problems within their communities while contributing to the global sustainable development goals through local approaches.
“Coming from a region that has experienced the extinction of white rhinos, I stand to do everything within my capabilities to fight for the Mountain Bongo species of antelopes. In partnership with the Mbunge and Word Forest, I intend to see to it that the younger generation is involved in conservation. Arguably, knowledge is key to sustainability and that is why the project will target young people with the goal of creating awareness and empowering them to take charge,” Mary Wambui says.
Further discussions are taking place with regards other elements of the project, including youth ambassadors and building classrooms. We hope to update you on further developments in the near future.
Sue Jueno and Mary Wambui