Category Archives: Endangered Wildlife

Thank you Brenton for supporting a Primate Guardian

On behalf of the management of Samburu Primates Research and Conservation Project, I would like to thank Mr Brenton H for giving a donation of $ 690 to go towards supporting the wages of a Primate Guardian for six months. Lembasha J., a local trained in community development and with great interest in the conservation of Mathews range forest biodiversity has been recruited.

The role of the PG is critical in the ongoing monitoring of rare and endangered primates in the forest, in addition to raising awareness on the threats affecting these primates’  in order to reduce anthropogenic pressure on their habitat. The PG is working with the other stakeholders in the conservation sector to ensure that the project’s activities complement other ongoing conservation efforts in the Mathews range ecosystem.

‘Asante Sana’ Mr Brenton
Iregi Mwenja
Project Leader

RSG gives £ 4,470 for primates conservation

The ongoing study of the rare primate of Samburu recently received a major boost when Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation awarded the project a grant of £ 4,470 for ongoing study on; The distribution and conservation status of the endangered Mt Uarges guereza and the de Brazza’s and Sykes’ monkey in Mathews range, Leroghi and Ndoto forests of Samburu Kenya.

This project aims to protect this globally important area and its primates, not only by active field work studies and monitoring but also through introducing community based conservation initiatives, strengthening forest reserve management in the areas, and building the capacity of relevant stakeholders to manage the local ecosystems


This is the second Grant I have received from Rufford for primates’ survey in Samburu region. I am sincerely grateful to RSG for this generous support which will see the study through the most critical stage – documenting new discoveries of three different primate species in the wider Samburu region.

“Asante Sana”


Finally, De Brazza’s monkey are in the Ndotos

Since the 2006 study of the newly discovered population de Brazza’s monkey in Mathews range, I received credible reports that de Brazza’s are are found in Ndotos. But just like with the initial reports of de Brazza’s in Mathews range, most people were skeptical and some did not hide their indignation with me for always highlighting positive news which they consider a threat to funding. Indeed, while presenting my findings on the Mathews range study at the Institute of Primate Research IPR 17th Scientific Conference, a participant asked me whether I expect to get funded if I continue telling the world that we are discovering more and more groups of de Brazza’s in Kenya. However, this seems to not to be the case with my project which has been come up with positive news at at time when the IUCN PSG released a report on 25 most endangered primates. Recently, Rufford Small Grant funded the ongoing study and I am sure many more Donors would have no problem funding a project that is run professionally and whose findings are not skewed to please the partisan interests.


Back to the good news. Despite the ongoing heavy rains in the Ndotos, our scouts managed to spot two seperate groups of de Brazza’s monkeys on very high altitude at ‘Lolionto’ and ‘Matasia’. Rains have completely disrupted our work in the steep areas of Sererit, Ngurunet and proper survey will have to wait for the dry season. Similarly, our work in Leroghi has also been affected and I hope to head there early month to assess the situation befroe deploying more scouts.


Iregi Mwenja
Project Leader

Rare photo with the Rare President

I am currently attending a one week Social marketing workshop for conservationist at college of African Wildlife Management, Mweka in Tanzania. The theme of the workshop which is facilitated by Rare is to “Introduce participants drawn from across Africa to one approach in building constituencies for conservation – Social marketing”. This approach is the Rare’s award winning Pride program which has been proven successful in more than 100 campaigns in over 40 countries around the world.

After today’s session which we learnt about building a concept model and threats ranking, I managed to convince the President to join me for a photo session – my first photo with a President. As you can see below, he is quite charismatic, easy going and very much at home with the “masses”, the right combination for positively influencing people’s behavior and attitudes on environment.

the-rare-president.JPG With Rare President Mr Brett.

rare-president.JPG The Presdent with the workshop participants

Iregi Mwenja

Thanks Mureil for the donation

I would like to thank Mureil T for his generous donation of 30 USD for support the ongoing studies of rare primates of Samburu district of northern Kenya. The money will be used to scouts allowances. The scouts are currently working in Ndoto mountains searching for new groups of de Brazza’s monkey that have not been previously documented.

“Asante Sana”.

Iregi Mwenja

Capturing the Eruption of Mt Lengai

Mt Lengai has been in the news lately in Kenya and in Tanzania due to the ogoing volcanic eruption and accompanying tremors that have been felt as far as Nairobi. I was lucky last month to witness first hand the eruption of this volcano from the safety of the rims of the Ngorongoro crater on my way to the Serengeti National Park.



Iregi Mwenja

Progress on the ongoing Samburu primates’ survey

The Samburu primates survey 2007/2008 is an effort aimed at establishing the presence and thereafter the distribution of six rare primates species in the district. They include; the de Brazza’s, the Sykes and the Patas monkeys, the Somali and the Senegal lesser galagos and the Endangered Mt Uarges guereza. The six have received marginal attention and their status is poorly known, save for the de Brazza’s monkey in Mathews range which was surveyed in 2006.

On de brazza’s monkey, the progress has been encouraging. Six more groups of de Brazza’s monkey were recorded on the northern Mathews range in additional the 24 groups recorded in the year 2006 survey. Milgis Trust game scout have also reported new groups in southern parts of Ndoto forest and they are currently on the ground searching for more groups.

So far, only one Patas monkey was officially reported in the district. Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton reported seeing one Patas monkey on the western parts of Samburu National Reserve. Given mobile the nature of male Patas and the proximity of the reserve to the Laikipia population, this sighting could not be construed to mean that there is a new resident group in the district yet. But ongoing efforts in Baragoi-Parsaloi plains are encouraging and might come up with positive results soon.

Iregi mwenja Baragoi plains.jpg The Plains between Leroghi and Ndoto where the search for patas has been intensified especially along the Baragoi- Parsaloi road. However, this effort might not be successfully completed due to funds limitations.

A very small population Sykes’ monkey is believed to be present on the northern fringes of Leroghi forest although tangible evidence has been had to come by. Effort to get hold of such evidence is till on going. Residents insist that there is a White-throated monkey that raids their crops for the nearby forest.

Ang'ata Nanyuki.jpg My Local scouts and local residents at Ang’ata Nanyuki where Sykes monkey are reported to raid crops.

The Endangered Mt Uarges guereza is found in substantial number distributed over central and southern parts of Mathews range forest. The population in the neighbouring Kirisia hills and Leroghi forest was last seen by Forest Guards in 2006 and is now believed to have sought refuge in the dense inaccessible part of the forest following two decades of persistent poaching by local people who highly value its skin.

Saanata.jpgSaanata, the highest peak of the Leroghi forest where it is extremely cold. The extreme cold deters human intrusion in this area and the remnants population of the Endangered colobus is believed to have found a safe haven here

The Senegal lesser galago was found to be widespread in the district. Eight live specimens were collected at South Horr and Mathew range. However, the Somali lesser galago was not seen though there were reports that it is common especially in the lower drier areas.

senagal's lesser galago.jpg A man holding a Senegal lesser galago at Ngare Narok in Mathews range. This species is common in traditional beehives near human residence.

Although a lot has been achieved so far, there is still more work that needs to be done to establish the status of Sykes’ in Leorgi, Patas in Parsaloi, Mt Uarges guereza in Leorgi and Ndoto forest and de Brazza’s monkey in Ndoto forest. The distribution of the Somali lesser galago in the lower and drier areas of the district need to be established as well. However, funds are running out when crucial information and tangible evidence for new discoveries is yet to be obtained. I am appealing for support to complete this survey within the next 12 months. I will also like ot thank those who have assisted me and my team before. their support has enabled us to traverse the remote 21,000 sq. km district extensively, an area where many biologist have been unable to venture before.

Iregi Mwenja

Samburu Primates Research and Conservation project

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Dr Iain Douglas-Hamilton reports Patas monkey sighting in Samburu

Last month I received reports from Chege of the Steve Chege blog that Dr Iain of Save the Elephants had mentioned to him that he had seen a Patas monkey while flying over the western parts of Samburu National Reserve. I also received the same information from Bridget McGraw – Guest Editor of the ‘Swara’ Magazine of the East African Wildife Society. I later talked to Dr Iain and he gave me the information below confirming that it was indeed Patas they found;

“In October 2007 during the course of an elephant collaring operation, I sighted along with Daniel Lentipo a Patas Monkey in the western part of Samburu National Reserve. The animal was running through open bush and we got a good view for a few seconds. Both Daniel and I independently recognised it as a Patas Monkey. I don’t know if this constitutes a rare sighting but I have never come across one in Buffalo, Shaba, and Samburu National Reserves. The nearest ones are those in Laikipia. Dr. Iain Douglas-Hamilton Founder, Save the Elephants”

patas..jpgPhotos: Manzolillo Nightgale

Patas monkey.jpgPatas monkey are highly dependent on Whistling Thorn (Acacia drepanolobium) for both food and sleeping sites.

I shared this information with Primatologists Dr Butynski and Yvonne de Jong and this is what Dr Butysnki had to say; “….Looks to be a very nice record…..very likely this is a ‘wandering adult male’….they do this sort of think…apparently….go off long distances from the range in which groups live….in search, I suppose, of new, distant groups and opportunities”

However, this remians the first confirmed report of the species sighting in Samburu district, though as Dr Butynski suggests, it could just be a wandering male from the Laikipia and not a resident group. Meanwhile, I am still working on the unconfirmed reports that there is a troop in northern Samburu, near Parsaloi which I will be able to verify early next year – see the previous blog for more details.

Iregi Mwenja

Project leader, Samburu Primates

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Presenting my findings at the 17th IPR scientific conference

Last week on Thursday, I presented my findings on the newly discovered population of de Brazza’s monkey at the 17th Institute of Primate Research Scientific Conference at KCCT Mbagathi in Nairobi. Although the Institute is predominantly a Bio-medical instutuion, the Ecology and Conservation department had 8 high quality presentations which included mine titled “A new population of de Brazza’s monkey in Kenya”

IPR sci conf 006.jpg

Below is the title slide

mwenja de brazza's presentation.jpg

Iregi Mwenja

Project leader

Samburu Primates

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National Geographic reports de Brazza’s discovery

The report of the de Brazza’s monkey discovery continue to makes news internationally. The latest is the National Geographic News published today. here is the link to the article

I would like to share some photos of the beautiful Mathews range.

Kibartare manayatta.jpg

‘Lkimani’ the Mathews point as seen from the north

Milgis r..jpg

Milgis River that seperates the Mathews range and the Ndotos.

Mt Uarges.jpg

Mt Uarges, the highest peak of the Mathews range found on the south of the ranges

Iregi Mwenja

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