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Fighting for Trash Free Seas: The International Coastal Cleanup – Kenyan Chapter

33 years ago, a movement began. Catalyzed by the desire to see a trash free coastline, the international coastal cleanup was born in Texas geared by two individuals; Linda Maraniss and Kathy O’Hara.

What may have seemed then like just a small project has since sparked into a great movement spanning across the globe with volunteers from over 100 countries joining in, coming a long way from the first cleanup with just a handful of volunteers. What makes the international coastal cleanup outstanding is that volunteers do not just pick up trash but also go a step further to record each item collected on a standardized data card in order to identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future.

This year, Kenyan locals along the Indian Ocean coastline came out in numbers to show their resolve of beating plastic pollution in our beaches. Led by the Kenyan team coordinators – Ocean Conservancy has coordinators in all countries involved in the ocean conservancy – the Kenyan cleanup was segmented into various beach cleanup sites with the main event culminating in a ceremony at Mama Ngina Drive. Zuru Kenya helped coordinate and took part in the Kikambala Beach cleanup.

Pictures below highlight the successful event that took place across the entire coastline. We are grateful for all those who came out to help clean our coast and create more awareness to the effect of pollution on our oceans.

Kids from Braeburn School cleanup Jumba ruins Mtwapa
International coastal cleanup ceremony at Mama Ngina Drive
Registration of volunteers in Kikambala
A volunteer counting trash collected

Mtepeni ward MCA – Kilifi South also took part in the cleanup, taking trash to the garbage truck

Turn up in Kikambala was impressive
Volunteers being awarded their participation certificates
Briefing before the cleanup

Students showcase their certificates in Kilifi

Nyali beach team
Trash collected in Shimoni awaiting pick up by garbage truck
Technical University of Mombasa Team

Coastal cleanup in Lamu

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We’ve been nominated: Please vote for us

zuru kenya- kenya travel awards

Happy New Year!

2018 has started off on a high note for us and we’re delighted to announce that Zuru Kenya has been nominated in the Kenya Travel Awards 2018 by Jumia Travel! We’re up for Best Destination Website, and we’re pretty excited about it.

The awards aim at promoting Kenya’s tourism sector, and responds to the need of encouraging hoteliers to improve the quality of their services for further advancement of their respective destinations.

“By organizing these African Travel Awards, our mission is not only to recognize and reward the merit of local tourism stakeholders, but also to provide a credible benchmark for the African tourism industry,” said Joe Falter, CEO of Jumia Travel.

We’d be thrilled if you showed your support and voted for us. The process is straightforward and voting should take just a few minutes – all you will need to do is click the link, enter a few details and submit your vote. Anyone is welcome to vote, so please do feel free to share the link with your family and friends – it would be hugely appreciated! Plus Bonus! All voters will automatically be entered into the Awards’ prize draw, where you could win a stay in the winning hotel – oh my!

Voting closes on 26th January, with winners being feted at a ceremony which will be held on February 1st, at Fairmont the Norfolk from 6PM. In other Jumia Travel countries, the awards will be held simultaneously on the 25th of January; in Lagos, Algiers, Dakar, Abidjan, Accra, Douala, Dar es Salaam, and Kampala. Vote now!

Backpackers, Beaches and a Big Burning man: My Christmas in Kilifi By Calum Warriner

Great Venture Surf Co.

We all know that Kenya is famous for one of nature’s most incredible spectacles; the great wildebeest migration. Perhaps what is less well known around the globe is the mass migration down to the coast for the festive season. If people aren’t heading up country to see the family, then you can bet your bottom shilling they’re making this annual journey to kick back on little piece of white beach and soak up the sun. A trip I was privileged enough to round off 2015 with and one that will leave anyone from the northern hemisphere swapping they’re stocking for a snorkel, and they’re hot coco for an ice cold tusker! Here are just a few of my thoughts, experiences, tid bits and tips. Those I can remember anyway 😉

The majority of my stay on the coast was spent in the lovely little town of Kilifi, about 56Km northeast…

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Camping in The Taita Hills – Needle In A Haystack

The Kenyan Camper

I am unsure if i should share the fact I drove for 6 hrs over 400km, camped for 2 nights and walked for hours through the Taita Hills to find 3 of Kenya’s treasures that were each about 10 cm long. These are the reasons why you have to be a little bit mad to be a traveller. You need that one screw loose, that one blown fuse, the slight spark of insanity to justify some of the reasons that take you places. But thats just the way travel is, it cannot be separated from the quest of of knowledge; the answer the question  “What is over that next hill?”

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#Conservation: This is how you can help the endangered Grevy’s Zebra

PHOTO: Francis Mbatha

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species – in 2015, it was updated three times.

Sometimes it can feel intimidating when you get inspired to help in conservation, especially once you understand the urgency, the overwhelming numbers and extent of the need – the List currently includes 79,837 assessed species, of which 23,250 are threatened with extinction, with habitat loss and degradation identified as the main threat to more than 80% of species assessed.

“How can I help,” What can I do,” are common questions you may find yourself asking, but it doesn’t always have to be complicated or expensive. Citizen science is gaining popularity in conservation efforts globally since the crucial data and insights collected by citizen scientists (usually the public), are used in scientific research, and also engages people in conservation through providing tangible assistance.

PHOTO: Grevy's Zebra Trust

PHOTO: Grevy’s Zebra Trust

The Great Grevy’s Rally Calls On Citizen Scientists

The endangered Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), which is taller than the Plains Zebra, has narrower stripes, a white belly and large rounded ears and has an estimated population of only 2,800 in the wild (primarily in Kenya with few in Ethiopia).

For the first time, a national census of the endangered Grevy’s Zebra will be held in Kenya on 30th-31st of January, 2016. The collected data will be used in updating the existing database and populate the new Image Based Ecological Information System and identify future conservation strategies.

The success of The Great Grevy’s Rally will depend greatly on the public’s participation. So if you’re someone who’s always wanted to help – this is your chance!

How You Can Help

If you know how to operate a digital camera and can spot different animals – you’re perfect for the job!

Register as citizen scientists and join academics, conservationists and local community members capture Grevy’s Zebras on your GPS enabled camera (provided by organizers for the two days). The only thing you need to keep in mind, for uniformity,  is to take pictures of only the right flank of the Grevy’s Zebra.

The Great Grevy’s Rally will be taking place in Nanyuki, Kenya and there will be many camping and lodging options – there are affordable camping options that begin as low as KSh 400 per night. The Registration fee is KSh 2,000 per vehicle team and each member of your team must provide proof of medical evacuation or AMREF air evacuation coverage at time of registration. If you don’t have proof of medical evacuation, AMREF air evacuation annual coverage will be available for purchase on Friday, 29th of January for KSh 2,000 to KSh 2,500 at the registration desk at Nanyuki Sports Club.

If you would like to help, I would suggest registering as soon as possible. The first teams of citizen scientists will be able to reserve a specific location to conduct their census and book their preferred accommodation.

For more information on how you can register, complete the form here.

Cheers to a year full of mistakes!

Happy new year good people…

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, travel, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, this year, next year and forever.”
Neil Gaiman

How Women Are Effecting Change in Kenya’s Kasigau Corridor

It is well known that women are more likely to invest in their communities than men, and that a developing country that invests in women advances quicker and further. What is amazing is to see this phenomena occur in a society, as I did last month in Kenya.

As part of my work documenting Audi’s carbon offset program, I flew to the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in the southeastern part of Kenya. Like in many parts of Africa, women are generally considered second class citizens. But in the Kasigau Corridor, they are creating systemic change that, in turn, is protecting the land.

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Income is a huge issue in the corridor. Slash and burn farming, the deforestation of the land for charcoal, and elephant poaching all provide quick sources of income for families in need, particularly the men responsible for support. Unfortunately, the income is not sustainable and fleeting at best.

The long-term impacts are many. The land is ravaged, meaning less economic opportunity. There is a resulting downward spiral that creates a desperate situation in the home.

zurukenya wildlife works

As a result, women often find themselves in suffering households with many risks ranging from HIV/AIDS to extreme poverty. That is why their role in the Kasigau Corridor’s recovery is so amazing.

The Power of Kenyan Women

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Women’s groups in Kasigau Corridor are one of the leading solutions ushering in sustainable change in the region. The loosely knit associations of women engage in entrepreneurial activities like producing arts and crafts sold in the U.S. through the auspices of REDD+ Project manager Wildlife Works. In all, there are 26 registered women’s groups in the Corridor, touching 550 women or 4% of the overall population.

With the resulting money women are building clean water tanks, buying solar lights and clean cook stoves for their households, and providing an education for their children. Husbands see the positive impact on their households and encourage their wives’ newfound roles in the Kasigau community.

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These Marasi Primary School girls are dressed up for a traditional dance ceremony to celebrate World Environment Day. They have a chance for a different future than their mothers, thanks to the changes occurring in the Kasigau Corridor.

The impact is far more than numerical though. Each woman has her own story of renaissance. And each story impacts handfuls of others, creating a spreading boon of positivity and economic growth in the Kasigua Corridor.

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Saum Chaka (above) is a member of the Neema Women’s Group, which has been operating since 2011. The group helped her out when a windstorm destroyed her house. She and her six children had nowhere to go, so the group put up funds to house her and her family while the home was being rebuilt.

The Neema Group has 15 women in total, and they often help each other out in times of need. They make their money by selling young trees, creating paper from elephant dung, and making beautiful jewelry. Some projects the women have taken on include building a water tank for their community (which ended a five-mile walk for water) and sending their children to school.

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Jenliza Mwikamba (above) is part of the 32-member, 10-year-old Bungule Women’s Group. She said her house was made of grass and leaky, and that her kids did not have beds and were not attending school. Now there is a metal roof over her house, and her children sleep in beds and are in secondary school. She and the other women in Bungule make money by weaving and selling colorful baskets.

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A third women’s group features opportunities for women who have suffered injuries or are handicapped. The Bugata Disabled and Handicapped Group produces stuffed animals for the Wildlife Works markets.

The Overall Impact

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Women’s groups are powerful, but they are not completely open. A woman must be invited to participate, and participate she must. If a woman does not show up and meet her obligations, she is asked to leave.

While the groups are a primary source of revenue for women, there are additional opportunities. The Wildlife Works Ranger Corps has added women to its staff in its efforts to protect the forest from slash and burn farming and charcoal burning, as well as its wildlife inhabitants from poachers. Other women have joined the Wildlife Works eco-charcoal making team.

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There are many, many levers that are changing the course of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project area’s future. It is clear that women are one of the most powerful ones.

When I consider that their reach touches more than 10% of the region, it is clear that the home improvements, education and general living improvements are lifting the morale of the region. I think these levers are a primary reason people are friendly and welcoming in Kasigau. Life is improving and the future looks brighter.

Disclosures: Audi paid me to visit Africa and capture content as part of a larger documentary project that will be released this Fall. Audi supports Wildlife Works as part of a carbon offset program that compensates for the manufacturing and the first 50,000 gas driving miles of the new A3 e-tron. All photographs are by me, the author, Geoff Livingston.

Source; Huffingtonpost Geoff Livingston

 

Make a Rhino, Save a Species

Saving the northern white rhinos isn’t just about species conservation, it’s about safeguarding wild species for future generations. We, therefore, remain committed to saving this species no matter how long it takes.

Make a rhino_funddescription

We want to raise £0.5m ($0.8m) to develop the IVF techniques needed for a new generation of northern white rhino to be born.

GoFundMe will make currency conversions or you can use our  USD Paypal account here.  For press enquiries, please contact elodie.sampere@olpejetaconservancy.org , +254 727 341 612
or jan.stejskal@zoodvurkralove.cz , +420 608 009 072

On Monday, July 27th Nabiré, a female northern white rhino at Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic passed away. With the sad and recent deaths of Suni and  Angalifu since the end of 2014, there are now just four northern white rhino left in the world.  It could be the end of a species.
Credit: Khalil Baalbaki/ZOO Dvur Kralove

Sudan (named after his birth-place but living in Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya) is the last northern white male in existence, and at 42 is in advanced old age for a rhino.  The chances of him successfully mating are close to zero.
Credit: Ian Aitken

The only hope now is to develop assisted methods of reproduction to allow new northern white rhino calves to be born.  Given the age and reproductive health issues that affect the remaining females, we are exploring in vitro fertilization and an embryo transfer. We aim to combine eggs from the remaining females with stored northern white sperm to create embryos that can be carried by surrogate southern white females.

This has never been successfully carried out with rhinos before.  It will be costly – we are working towards £0.5m (approx. $0.8m).  It could take 12-36 months of research to develop the new techniques required. There are no guarantees of success.  But if we are successful, we will save a species.

You might well ask:  “Why bother?” or “Most species have gone extinct over time, what’s the problem?” or  “Couldn’t this money be better spent on other threatened species, including black rhino?”

We wish we could give you the ultimate answer but beyond sheer, inspirational beauty, the maintenance of global biodiversity and the chance to see wild rhinos roaming free in central Africa at some stage in the future, we can’t.
Credit: Erico Hiller

However, when you consider the value of this magnificent species please consider:

£0.5m (approx. $0.8m) to save a species for now, for your children and for your children’s children…

Versus the same amount to buy…

16 m2 of real estate in Monaco (172 square foot), or
62,500 space hoppers, or
One Lamborghini, or
43 Methuselah bottles of 1990 Cristal Brut Millennium cuvée , or
5 and a bit, Supercharged Range Rover SVR Sports, or
Half of an Xten, Pininfarina designed office chair

Please see foot of this page for links to sources.

Feel free to share in your comments any more crazy comparisons as to how £0.5m ($0.8m) could be spent compared to saving a species.

Please contribute and help us make a new baby northern white rhino. Any and all funds raised here will go directly to the northern white rhino programme.

For more information please contact Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, or Jan Stejskal, Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, by simply posting a message to this Go Fund Me page.

——-

Important information:

There is no guarantee of success.  We could spend this money and fail.  But we hope that you will agree that it is worth trying.

Even if we do succeed it could take us much, much longer than the time frames we are hoping for as outlined above.

We estimate that we need to raise £0.5m (approx. $0.8m) before fees to make this work but we could be wrong – we could need more and would continue fundraising.

Should any funds remain after success or failure, then the committee set up to safeguard the northern white future will reinvest those monies into protecting the world’s remaining rhino species.

The northern white rhino programme is administered by a committee comprised of the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, Dvur Kralove Zoo and the Ministry of Environment in the Czech Republic, and Back to Africa with support from Fauna and Flora International and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

The northern white rhino is technically recognised as a subspecies by IUCN AfRSG. For simplicity we have chosen to communicate this campaign under the banner of ‘Save a Species’ in recognition that northern white rhino genetics are uniquely adapted to their habitats and are subsequently irreplaceable and we believe invaluable.

This campaign has been set up by Robert Breare and Jan Stejskal. Robert is Chief Operating Officer of Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to three of the last four northern white rhino. Jan is Director of International Projects at Dvur Kralove Zoo, owner of all four remaining northern white rhinos. Their identity can be confirmed by checking out LinkedIn here  and here  or staff pages on OPC  or DK Zoo website .  GoFundMe also runs extensive verification checks.

Sources:

Banner image: Credit Jan Stejskal

http://www.gofundme.com/makearhino

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Raising Hope: The Angel Centre

What sane mother would abandon their baby? Is this person without a conscience? Does she not have a heart? could it be that she is simply evil?! We had so many questions when we got there. Questions that, truth be told, we may never get answers to…nevertheless one can’t help but wonder.

I had heard stories before and at an early age seen cases, of children dumped into dumpsites, on streets, on hospital facilities, in bushes or into pit- latrines. However over Easter weekend, these stories became too real. Holding these little angels in our hands, feeding them their formula, it was simply incomprehensible how these precious beings could have undergone so much pain and suffering, within such a short period of life.

ZURU KIDS

In my arms was this adorable bundle of joy, Alexander, with his appetite in check he hurriedly finished his bottle of formula within a number of minutes, as if to show who was the best feeder among the ‘siblings’. Alex’s story, like all of the others, is a sad one. With just a few hours in this cruel cruel world, the poor boy was stuffed into a sack like pieces of old clothes and dumped into a pit latrine. He was lucky enough to get rescued before it was too late.

zuru kenya Angel Center
cute little Alex after feeding
Abandonment breaches all fundamental parental roles of providing
nurturance, protection and guidance to one offspring, particularly during the most vulnerable stages of their lives, and that is why one wonders how a mother could inflict such pain and suffering on her own child. These things that could not be provided to them by their parents, Angel Center has committed to provide.
Founded by Wamaitha Mwangi, Angel Center for abandoned children  which is based in Dagoretti seeks to provide Basic human rights, Love & affection, Medical care, Complementary therapy, Good nutrition and most importantly, a place that these precious beings can call home until they find their long term families.
 zurukenya raising hope
Taking care of 27 or so kids, is a full time job that can only be described as a calling. Not that many people could commit to giving their all to children that are not their own. Babies are a gift from God and as helpless as they are, we commend the work that Angel Center is doing to give them “a fresh start”.
 angel centre
When we arrived for our playdate with the kids on Easter Monday, the mum’s were busy getting them ready; bathing and feeding them. Unfortunately at the time, some of the kids had come down with chicken pox so the younger one’s had to be kept separate from the older ones to avoid contacting the same. That didn’t stop us from enjoying our time with the Kids though. We played, danced, snacked together, and had loads of fun.
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While there, one of the kids was on his way out. Off to start a new chapter with his new loving family. Although oblivious of the fact that he wasn’t going to come back to Angel Center, the joy expressed on his face was enough confirmation that he was going to be just alright. In case you are looking to adopt or sponsor a child feel free to get intouch with the Angel Center.
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We had an amazing time with the kids at Angel Center. If we could carry them home, we would have ( they are so cute!!!). Nevertheless, despite not being able to understand how an otherwise sane mother could carry to term her baby only to abandon and in some cases kill,  desperation can never explain the “leave to let die” abandonment. Any sane mother, no matter how desperate her situation, will look for a caring place to leave her baby.

Dumping and abandoning newborns is a crime. There must be a law stiffly penalizing mothers for this.

That said, we don’t know the circumstances that led to these kids’ abandonement. Perhaps we’ll never know the full story. We can only thank God that people like Wamaitha and the ladies at the home exist. Because of them, these little miracles have a place to call home and a chance at a good life.