At the heart of the hurting Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
Forests make up an important part of our ecosystems. They are home to countless mammals, birds, and insects. In them our rich heritage is preserved, a good flow of clean air maintained and the natural beauty of the world as God meant kept. But over the years, the rift between man and wildlife has kept on worsening and deepening. Our needs and to a large extent greed has pushed us to destruction, many times with an attitude of “it’s only a tree and it will grow anyway”. True it will grow….it will take years but it will grow. But we forget that it’s not just the tree that is lost in the process. Why should our children just read about elephants in books if we would have done something to make sure they actually live to see them!
On the 1st of October 2021, a group of 37; Forest Rangers, a team from Muvera wa ASSETS and A Rocha Staff set out at 6:30 AM for a de-snaring activity (snare removal), in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (ASF). ASF is the largest remaining patch of the coastal forest that initially ran from Mozambique to Somalia. It is home to some trees and animal species that are not found anywhere else. It also contains some of the globally threatened bird species like the Sokoke Pipit, Amani Sunbird, Sokoke Scope Owl, Clarke’s weaver, Spotted Ground Thrush and the East Coast Akalat. It is also home to the Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus) which is only found in Kenya!
As we started our journey, we were all smiles and happy to be part of the beautiful Fauna and Flora. However, our joy was cut short when we came across the ugly sights embedded deep in the forest. Trees are being cut down carelessly and the forest is being destroyed. Two people were apprehended right in the action as we were going through the forest. The indigenous trees are targeted by the loggers because of their durability, resistance to termites, beauty etc. Trees like Manilkara Sansibarensis(Mng’ambo) and Brachylaena Huilensis(Mhuhu) are selectively cut and therefore are depleted in some areas.
Our forest is dying! We still have a forest today, or part of it to be more specific! This is because of the selfless work of Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest in partnership with NGOs and individuals who have given their lives to ensure its protection. As A Rocha Kenya, we are doing the best we can to partner with the communities neighboring the forest to curb down on the destruction being done. One of the ways we do that is through the ASSETS (Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Ecotourism Scheme) program. This is a program that supports students from homes around ASF in their secondary school education. Both the beneficiaries and their families commit to being ambassadors of protecting the forest. But with all these efforts, we are still not doing enough. We need your help to reach more people and re-plant more trees. Partner with us today and be part of the noble course. To contribute towards ASSETS and see more families reached and more students put through school, please click this link;https://www.arocha.or.ke/thank-you/.