EACN Monthly Newsletter

November 2018 

Promoting conservation of Rugezi Marsh through community awareness

In August 2018, ICF received funding from CEPF to carry out a project aimed at supporting community-based conservation in the Rugezi Marsh KBA. ICF’s Adalbert Aine-Omucunguzi shares the activities they are undertaking towards enhancing the community’s involvement in the conservation of Rugezi Marsh.
"Rugezi Marsh is a protected high altitude peat bog located in the Northern Province of Rwanda. Situated in a valley bordered by steep slopes, it covers 6735 spectacular hectares. It is a source of water for thousands of people who reside in its catchment and downstream and for several lakes that are popular tourist destinations.  Rugezi Marsh also provides critical habitat for Rwanda’s largest population of endangered Grey Crowned Cranes.
Unfortunately, intensive human activities including vegetation harvesting, direct livestock grazing, wildfires and hunting threaten the health of this extraordinary marsh. We believe that the key to protecting the marsh and its cranes means addressing these threats through awareness programmes in the fringe communities.
With support from the CEPF, the International Crane Foundation has embarked on an awareness raising campaign in communities and schools. So far, we have conducted campaigns to 50 students who are members of Environment club at GS Gaseke Schools. In our message, we emphasize the value of wetlands to humans and other biodiversity and the dangers of degrading the wetlands. We also explain to the students how wetlands link to their future survival. We urge the students to take the message to their parents and other community members.

We are also conducting awareness campaigns in communities targeting adult community members. In September and October 2018, we held the campaigns in Ruhunde sector of Burera district and reached out to 100 community members. Our message focused on human activities activities that damage Rugezi marsh, the value of the marsh to the communities and what the community members need to do to safeguard the marsh.  We have also used the campaigns to promote the growing of Napier grass to provide food for livestock and stop harvesting of vegetation from Rugezi.

We are grateful to CEPF for supporting this work."
Community engagement in addressing challenges facing the conservation and survival of Grey
Crowned Crane at Lake Ol' Bolossat, Kenya

Cranes Conservation Volunteers (CCV), with funding from CEPF has been raising awareness to the local community around  Lake Ol' Bolossat KBA on crane conservation. George Muigai of CCV shares the importance of the project as well as activities so far implemented.

"Lake Ol’ Bolossat is an approximately 43 sq. km high altitude (2330m) freshwater Lake located on north western slopes of Aberdare Mountains in the northern parts of Nyandarua County of the central highlands of Kenya. In March 2008, it was designated as Kenya’s 61st  Important Bird/Key Biodiversity Area following listing of globally-threatened bird species (Wamitiet al., 2008). The general area of Nyahururu has over 300 species of birds, a third of these being waterfowls recorded in the Lake.
Among the key species is Grey Crowned Crane currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Until December 2015, there was no up to date information regarding  this species in and around Lake Ol’ Bolossat including its population status (threats, size and distribution). This information was needed to guide conservation interventions for this partially wetland-dependent species. A rapid survey was therefore considered as urgent to establish the status of the cranes. It was found out that: i) the cranes were using the site for breeding;  ii) poaching for eggs, chicks and adult cranes was rampant; iii) degradation of breeding sites mainly by humans and livestock disturbance led to breeding failure; iv) domestic (unleashed) dogs were predating on flightless chicks; v) there was little to no community engagement to protect wildlife in the area; and vi) there was lack of information and knowledge among the community on their negative impacts on the cranes. 

This crane species is endemic to Africa. According to BirdLife (2013), its population has dramatically declined by over 80% across it’s  range for the last 45 years and the fastest declining crane species.   Kenya has the biggest population estimated at 35,000 individuals in 1985 (Urban, 1988) with Lake Ol’ Bolossat being one of the key sites with an estimated 600-900 cranes (Muigai, 2016)and over 90 breeding pairs (Wamiti, pers comm., 2018).

With financial support from Critical Ecosystem partnership Fund (CEPF), from August 2018, Cranes Conservation Volunteers  has been implementing a project to engage the  Community  in addressing these challenges at Lake Ol' Bolossat, through various approaches which are being conducted; awareness in schools and during village meetings, giving out cranes conservation brochures and leaflets,   training cranes observers and networking"

Opportunities and Resources

Wildlife Acoustics-Grants Program 2019
This aims to advance the conservation of animals through bio-acoustics recording technology. The Wildlife Acoustics Scientific Product Grant Program offers US$5 thousand of product-in-kind grants to biologists, researchers, conservationists, and students who work for charitable, educational, and other tax-exempt organizations. There are no geographical limitations.
Deadline: 15 February 2019

Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages for more opportunities, and the Capacity for Conservation website for self-led organizational development.
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