It is a great opportunity to host the university students from the Centre for Global Education and staff for field study this week. The university’s instructors have been accompanied the students for the study in Africa majorly on Larger mammals (Conservation Biology of Terrestrial Megafauna) and related fields. The students studied rangelands, Human wildlife conflict, Raptors, and Livestock management. The visit to other protected conservation areas in Kenya gave them a clear picture of what the country has in terms of flora and magafauna.The students had opportunity of working closely with Simon Thomset who is known globally for raptors study and research. They were able to capture, ring and release some raptors including Augur buzzards and Long crested eagles. Small mammal traps were also laid for rodents. A number of cameras were set at strategic locations and a leopard was notably the largest nocturnal animal captured while walking to hunting ground. The waterfowls of Lake Elementeita mainly the Greater flamingos, Lesser Flamingos, Pelicans, Cormorants, Teals formed part of the study during visit to the lake. The lake being a Ramsar Site, World Heritage Site, Importance Bird Area and National Sanctuary is a great site also visited for field study

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Release of already ringed Augur buzzard

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Dance by pupils at Kiboko to welcome their guests


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Field study for livestock and rangeland management




The management would like to welcome all who would like to volunteer for the dry season mammal count this Saturday, 12th November 2011.Th e briefing will be done on Friday afternoon and the exercise will take place on Saturday starting at 6:30 a.m.

The terrain is mostly is mostly open grassland .Vegetation are broadly divided into 3 main classes; wooded grassland, wooded forest and open grasslands. The grassland covers the largest areas of Congreve,Jolai,Lakeside and South Melia, The Melia North, Some parts of Soysambu and Western part of Congreve has wooded grasslands and lastly the Lake Elementeita area and hills around Jolai has wooded forest.The conservancy is divided in 9 major blocks with open grasslands taking larger blocks. More on this exercise will be provided during briefing this Friday afternoon


By Duncan Odour

Species consists of individual organisms which are very similar in appearance, anatomy, physiology and genetics having relatively recent common ancestors. Many species survive in specialized habitats. When these habitats are destroyed or fragmented the threat of extinction looms.

Cape Buffalo Herd Soysambu Conservancy

Herd of Cape Buffalo in Soysambu Conservancy

Keystone species is defined as one that has a critical role in determining and maintaining the overall relationship of plants and animals within an ecosystem. If a keystone species is removed or declines, the nature of the ecosystem will change dramatically. Keystone species of plants or animals appear to exhibit a particularly large influence on the ecosystem they inhabit. Keystone Species are essential to ecosystems and biodiversity.


Zebras are keystone species in Soysambu conservancy.

Elephants as a keystone species.

As keystone species, elephants stop the progression of grassland to forest or thicket by weeding out the trees and shrubs.   Elephants browse on these woody plants, yanking young trees out by their roots or stunting their growth by eating the growth points on their branches or kill it slowly by prying away its bark. Without elephants the grasslands overgrow with woody plants and convert to forests or to shrub-lands. This conversion begins when woody plants, particularly various species of acacias e.g (Acacia nilotica, xanthophloea) sprout among the grasses. Left unchecked, these sprouts can grow and reproduce, eventually forming a closed stand of trees or shrubs. Once in place, the stand’s interlocking branches and leaves shade out the grasses. Without enough sunlight to survive, the grasses dwindle, the grassland disappears. When grasses disappear, so do grazing antelopes and without antelopes, the packs and clans of carnivores also disappear. The newly growing forest supports a new web of life that is more impoverished and less productive feeding fewer species than the grassland.

An elephant grazing does not harm the grasses as grasses are adapted to live in harmony with their grazers sacrificing a few leaves in exchange for keeping their roots and growth points intact.
Grasses ensure this compromise by forming leaves that connect to their roots through weak and narrow bases which snap when a grazer eats the leaves leaving the roots safely below the ground. When a keystone species disappears from its habitat, that habitat changes dramatically. The keystone’s disappearance triggers the loss of other resident species, and the intricate connections among the remaining residents begin to unravel.
As resident species vanish, other species move in or become more abundant. The altered mix of species changes the habitat’s appearance and character.The “new” habitat looks different from the original one, housing a new mix of plants and animals. Often, the new habitat supports fewer species and works less efficiently than the original one as nutrients and energy turn over more slowly and less efficiently, biological diversity dwindles and the landscape begins to change.



The 2008 Red List of Threatened Species by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) portrayed 5,966 species as threatened out of the nearly 60,000 described vertebrates’ species species on Earth. An additional 2,496 species of invertebrates and 8,457 species of plants were also listed. Only 43%of all known vertebrates’ species, 4% of all plants, and less than 0.5%of invertebrates were evaluated and others may be in danger.

IUCN has estimated that 1/3 of all amphibians’ species, 1/4 of all mammals and more than one in ten birds are sliding towards extinction .Long before species are technically extinct, they become so rare as to be gone from nature. Many people, organizations and governments are now dedicated to stop the trend and protecting what remains. Beyond species-specific strategies, efforts include laws limiting hunting and trading of endangered animals, preservation of habitats such as parks, reserves, private conservancies, and even international treaties.

Locally, environmental groups have organized projects that give communities incentives to protect wildlife and habitats. Most species particularly predators and large animals require large intact areas to sustain healthy populations.


The now endangered male Rothschilds’ Giraffe browsing on acasia in Soysambu Conservancy.


The young pelicans on breeding islands in Lake Elementeita.



Rivers have always been potent symbols of time and change, shifting shape as they travel from the mountains to the lakes. Fast- flowing streams dominate their upper parts, growing larger and slower as they descend toward wetlands and the coasts. It is amazing that no two rivers are exactly alike. Climate, geology chemistry of the rivers and the contours of the land all determine a river’s characteristics and the varieties of life that it supports. As a rule, large fish can be found in deep, slow-moving waters of main river channels. Smaller species inhabit the shallower headwater streams. Other species native to arid regions have adapted to periods when rivers run dry or are reduced to a few standing polls until the next rainy season. Floodplains and wetlands harbor the greatest number of species .Renewed each year with river-borne nutrients, they plants, insects, worms, and other invertebrates which in turn attract large numbers of fish, mammals and birds to feed and breed. Throughout the world, rivers and wetlands play similarly vital roles in people’s lives providing shipping routes, hydropower, recreation, jobs, and food and provide drinking water. Rivers and other wetland fisheries often provide the only source of animal protein for people in most parts of Africa and developing world, particularly the rural poor who turns to fishing when they cannot find jobs. In some parts, farmers are also involved at least part time in fishing activities to augment their family food supplies and incomes.

Over time, humans have heavily altered waterways to fit their needs by building dams, levee and canals. Other harmful practices which today are unfortunately widespread, include draining wetlands, over-abstracting water for agriculture, polluting rivers with fertilizer, dumping wastes, over harvesting of fish and introducing non-native species. These threats pose major challenges to conservationists who nonetheless are making progress.

World leaders officially recognized the value and vulnerability of wetlands in 1971, when 158 nations signed a conservation treaty specifically aimed at protecting the wetlands. Over 1828 wetland sites covering over 169million hectares of both coastal and fresh water wetlands have been designated as under the Ramsar Convention. Conserving a river is a more daunting task because they cannot be fenced. Protecting rivers requires a range of coordinated efforts influencing activities on adjacent land such as zoning rules limiting land users, regulating pesticides on nearby farms, planting and maintenance of trees and other vegetation along the riverbanks.