As we embark on the most important phase of the Samburu Primates Research and Conservation Project – communicating findings of four years of groundbreaking research in rare and endangered primates to the local stakeholders in Samburu, I would like to share with you some of the exciting information that we will be communicating and interpreting to decison makers starting this week with the Samburu elders. This will be followed by education outreach in schools to convey a similar message and raise awareness on primate’s conservation in Mathews range forest.
‘’Iregi Mwenja is the first to admit how taken aback he was at the findings of his own pioneering survey of a ‘satellite’ De Brazza’s Monkey population on Kenya’s Mathews Range’. Swara Editor, 2007. Click here to read the article: A new population of De Brazza’s monkey in Kenya.
Iregi Mwenja has led the Samburu Primates Research and Conservation Project since April 2006, pioneering groundbreaking research in rare and endangered primates of the region
I spent the Easter Break holding meetings with my team on the ground to plan for an upcoming elders’ workshop in Wamba. This workshop will be followed by key stakeholders’ workshop in Marallal. The aim of the elders’ workshop is to interpret to them findings of my 3 years research in the area. This is part of my wider plan to ensure that I communicate and explain all my conservation research findings to the local people as this is where the findings will make a big difference. This is unlike many scientists whose papers gather dust in shelves of libraries as they never go back to their study sites to communicate their findings to the local stakeholders.
In Samburu community, elders are highly respected and act as the custodians of the community’s culture. This workshop will communicate to them in simplified terms and the local Samburu dialect, the ecological and socio-economic implications of the poaching of the sub-species so that they can make conscious decision on the way forward on both the cultural use and the conservation of the primate, which is found nowhere else outside the Samburu, even in Zoos!!
On my way to Wamba, I was amazed by the huge difference the on the vegetation when comparing it to the same time last year at the height of the drought. The livestock, which were dying for lack of food and water are now healthy and seems to have stored extra fats in anticipation of another drought!
However, to a primatologist who has worked in the Mathews range since 2006, I was quick to make the connection. Mathews range is a dry season feeding ground for all the livestock in the lower areas. Given that there is no grass in the forest, the livestock is fed on the evergreen tree branches on river valleys greatly degrading the primate’s habitat. In open areas, the herders burn the grass to encourage regeneration of lush green grass. These fires get out of control and end up burning hundreds of acres of the forest thereby destroying the primates’ habitat. Therefore the pounding rains, though causing damages in some quarters is a blessing to the primates and they will be no human beings and livestock in the forest any time soon!
Some images from Samburu
A Primate Guardian camping at Mt Uarges recently
Iregi Mwenja is the Project Leader of the Samburu Primates Research and Conservation Project and Associate Research Scientist of the Institute of Primate Research