FORUM FOCUS 1604 - page 2

CONSERVATION INACTION
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LWFStrategicPlanningUpdate
April 2016 IssueNo. 7
What’s in aName?
F
or many in Laikipia, the use
of the word “wildlife” with
regards to Laikipia Wildlife
Forum has alwaysmeant a preference
for “wanyama wa pori”, or wild
animals, for the custodians of our
large tracts of rangelands. This is only
partly true.
LWF has long served a wide
varietyofmemberswithout anydirect
relationship towildlife.
We have supported peace and
securityeffortsamongconflictedareas
- bothhuman andwildlife.
We have supported healthy
rangelands, andworkedwith26Water
ResourceUserAssociations tomanage
and conserve scarcewater resources.
Wehavehelpedmembers buildnew
enterprises based on the generosity
of Mother Nature, and we’ve helped
tourism to grow in Laikipia as a new
form of land use, to generate income
and employment.
These are hardly “straight-
up wildlife” programs- they are
varied and targeted at both human
communities and the animals that
share the landwith them.
Themain focus of LWF has always
been its “Mission” - to conserve
Laikipia’s wildlife and ecosystem
integrity and improve the lives of its
people. It’s because of our land use
andour approach to landmanagement
as custodians that we are able to
extendbenefits toLaikipians.Hereare
a few examples:
Pure ranching and mixed ranching
producealmost 3billionKSHper year
inLaikipia.An additional 650million
KSH are spent on supplies and inputs.
Almost 775million shillings are spent
onwages.Andmore than 160MKSH
are used to pay taxes at national and
County levels.
Tourism facilities in Laikipia have
historically generatedmore thanKSH
320 million per year in the semi-arid
and arid areas of Laikipia. They spend
at least 150MKSH on local supplies.
These facilities pay a minimum of
55 million KSH in wages, with most
employees being local. And tourism
landuse contributes at least 13MKSH
in taxes per year for national and local
authorities.
Large land owners of Laikipia have
typically paid more than 200M KSH
each year into their vicinities in the
form of infrastructure, services, and
development. Most of this comes
While contributing to the
conservation of endangered
species, Laikipia is not just
about wildlife. The rhinos in the
picture above are some of the
beneficiaries of our landuse.
Rhinosbonding. PhotobyGabriel JohannesHuber
from wildlife tourists and wealthy
friends who believe that wildlife and
peoplecan live together.Otherpartsof
this annual payment come from land
holderswhohaveplentyandchoose to
share it because they believe in being
good neighbours.
Because large areas of land are
kept as rangelands that tolerate or
encourage wildlife, we benefit. We
benefit from food, from employment,
from tax revenues, fromdevelopment,
and from the conservation of our
national andworldwildlife heritage.
As we continue to consider “what’s
in our name”, as part of our strategic
planning about LWF’s future, you can
expect both our focus, and yes, even
our name to change.
We are moving towards greater
membership engagement in projects
of yourmaking.
We are moving towards stronger
neighbourhoods to make a greater
impact on projects and programs that
benefit everyonewho live in them.
We are moving towards greater
engagementwithCountyGovernment
and our county neighbours, to
improve our land use planning
and management, and to make our
management of resources more
sustainable both inside and outside of
county lines.
So far, our strategic planning has
shown that our members want to be
stewards of their own environment,
custodiansof their land, andcaretakers
of our heritage.
Certainly, that can’t be a bad thing.
Elephants lineupatOl JogiConservancy to receiveanentertaining
lectureandsong fromvisitingschool children, the futurecustodiansof
Laikipia. PhotocreditOl Jogi.
T
hepricklypear, orOpuntia, is
taking over our rangelands!
Initially
brought
into
Kenya’s Northern Laikipia territory
over 40 years ago to be used as a live
fence on ranches, the prickly pear
was used to keep out trespassers and
indicated landboundaries.
Today thepricklypeardemonstrates
a natural aggressiveness and occupies
vast stretches of land, displacing
pasture and taking over indigenous
plants. The fruits produced by the
cacti attract livestock and humans
alike with their sweet flesh. This is
part of the reason why the plant has
spread like wildfire in such a short
period of time.
Last year the Cochineal
(Dactylopius coccus) a “super bug”
that originates from South America
and Mexico, was introduced in
Laikipia. Manypeoplehoped itwould
wipe out Opuntia. The cochineal is
an insect specific to one species of
prickly pear. It can heavily infest the
prickly pear leaves, destroying the
plant gradually until it finally dies.
The female inserts a tube into the
pad, much like putting a straw into
a soda. She sucks the plant dry. This
is the way she obtains nourishment.
She also secretes a white, web-like
material over the plant for camouflage
and to prevent the plant she is feeding
on from dryingout too quickly.
In April 2015, John Weller from
Ol Jogi Conservancy, together with
Dr. Arne Witt from the Centre for
Agriculture and Biosciences (CABI),
Prof. GeoffreyWahungu, theDirector
General of NEMA, Laikipia local
government, and community groups
officially launched the first public
release of the Cochineal insect after
2 years of intense trials. But uptake
of the Cochineal insect among
ranches has been really slow, and
the insect spreads even more slowly.
Since prickly pear displaces natural
vegetation and grasslands, affected
communities are asking what can be
done.
Manual Extractionof the InvasivePricklyPearaPossibility
In a meeting held on February
2016, group ranchesMusul, Ilmotiok,
Ilpolei, Morupusi and Munishoi
came together. With the participation
of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum,
Northern Rangelands Trust, the
National Environmental Management
Authority,
Laikipia
County
Government, rangeland officers and
representatives of Suiyan Ranch, the
groups met under the leadership of
the InternationalConservationCaucus
Foundation supported by USAID, to
discussthemanualremovalofOpuntia.
Using methods recommended by the
County Government and tried and
tested by ranchmanagers in Laikipia,
theCountypledged to supportmanual
destruction trials under the new
financial year budget through the
ministry ofNatural Resources.
Opuntia spreads remarkably fast
especiallywhenbaboonsandelephants
move across the landscape. Livestock
are affected if they eat the fruit of the
Opuntia. Eating the prickly pear can
destroy their digestive systems.
The negative impact to our lands
from thecactus isundeniable.Wemust
look at additional ways to reduce the
effects of the plant on our grasslands,
our livestock and our livelihoods. It is
for this reason that additional solutions
must be implemented to increase the
rate at which the plant is destroyed.
Many species of invasive plants
cost the County significant loss of
grasslandsand revenue from livestock.
LWFplans to include invasive species
management and eradication as part
of its future rangelands management
programming inLaikipia.
TheCochineal insect feedingon
OpuntiaCactus
Workers removingOpuntiabyhand
OpuntiaCactus
1 3,4,5,6,7,8
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