Welcome to the eighth in our series of articles from the 2022-23 Word Forest Report and Accounts.
In today’s episode, our esteemed colleague, Sue, discusses another of our ambitious projects to help conserve a critically endangered forest antelope called the Mountain Bongo.
Vital reforestation work must be done in the area in order to replace habitats and capture carbon, all the while empowering young Kenyans.
To catch up with previous episodes in this series, visit WordForest.org/news.
Tulinde Bongo Project
For the last year Word Forest has been working closely with the Murang’a Youth Bunge County Forum CBO (MYBCF) to find ways to help their Tulinde Bongo Project which is 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, a forest antelope and a subspecies of the Bongo Antelope.
The Mountain Bongo is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with only several hundred left worldwide, most being found in the Aberdares region in Kenya. Mary Wambui, MYBCF’s Ambassador, states: “As we speak, we have less than a hundred Mountain Bongos in Kenya.”
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. 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 make change.”
The MYBCF 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.
Part of the planned Tulinde project includes reforesting specific areas within the Aberdares. The habitat replacement will enable the Mountain Bongo conservation, as well as play a vital part in carbon sequestration.
We were delighted to facilitate a first phase planting of 4,224 saplings in April 2022 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 the MYBCF team met with a Kenyan Forestry Service forester and a graduate of wildlife management who worked at the Mount Kenya Conservancy where the 50 sheltered Mountain Bongo antelopes reside.
On their advice, 1,400 Podocarpus, 1,000 Olea Africanus, 912 Prunus Africana and 912 Syzgiumguinese saplings were planted by 44 youths employed by MYBCF over two and a half days.
It is with thanks to The Souter Charitable Trust that we were able to secure an annual subscription to the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK) for 3,500 students in the Aberdares Range. As part of the subscription the students and teachers, based at 12 selected MYBCF schools, received three different issues of Komba magazine for the year, free lectures and video / slideshows, access to the WCK mobile conservation education lectures and film showings, plus their WCK roadshows. All with the aim to help and encourage the conservation of wildlife.
We would also like to thank Animal Friends Pet Insurance who enabled us to fund the purchase of camera traps that will help monitor the last few remaining Mountain Bongo and collect data. These are to be set up in the coming months.
One last thank you needs to go to Alex Lancaster, our volunteer bid writer, who secured the above mentioned grants for the WCK memberships and the camera traps. Thank you so much for your support and dedication.