Apr 30, 2011

DIdattica per l'ambiente a Kinangop - Teaching conservation in Kinangop

NOTA DI LUCA. Dominic Kimani e' uno dei tre studenti che nel 2010 hanno ricevuto una borsa di studio annuale con la nostra sponsorizzazione in collaborazione con il Museo Nazionale del Kenya. La specialita' di Dominic e' la didattica ambientale e l'area di lavoro e' l'altipiano di Kinangop, uno dei siti chiave per la conservazione della natura in Kenya. L'altipiano di Kinangop e' costituito da praterie naturali di alta quota, che ospitano numerose species endemiche, tra cui il ben noto Uccellino Zampagrossa (Sharpe's longclaw). Putroppo le praterie vengono rapidamente distrutte a causa della rapida espansione agricola, ed e' quindi importante sviluppare e propagandare tecniche di coltivazione piu' sostenibili e compatibili con la conservazione dell'ambiente.
Di seguito potete leggere un resoconto scritto da Dominic sulle sue attivita'.

NOTE BY LUCA. Dominic Kimani is one of the three students based at the National Museums of Kenya that we are helping with a one-year long fellowship that enable them to complete their studies and engage themselves in research and conservation activities in Kenya. Dominic's field of expertise is teaching environmental conservation in one of the most biodiversity-rich sites of Kenya, the Kinangop plateau, were natural high-altitude grassland is rapidly being converted to agriculture endangering many species of wildlife, among which a bird, Sharpe's longclaw.
Dominic just sent me this report on the activities he's carrying out in Kinangop. 


Report on teaching conservation in Kinangop
By Dominic Kimani

Water conservation and Harvesting - World Wetland Day
Kinangop has changed a lot especially in the last 2 decades and it has become very dry in most part of the year. Water conservation and harvesting is therefore inevitable.
This year’s World Wetland Day was commemorated on second February 2011. We selected Ndaracai-ni Primary school to host the event. The schools within this area came here for the days’ activities. This event attracted the parents, teachers and students of this area to mark this important day worldwide. The occasion was used to create public awareness on the importance of wetlands in the area and how they are connected to the large water bodies like Lake Naivasha and even oceans.

Young students from Kinangop on the World Wetland Day
The farmers and general public expressed their worries about the declining treads of waters quality and quantity in the nearby Turasha river. We used the event to explain the alternative water harvesting techniques that people could use. Roof and small ponds catchments were highlighted as the most applicable in the area.
Threats facing the riparian land in the middle catchment where Kinangop plateau is found were explained to the people gathered. The threats are mainly caused by poor cultivation close to the river banks. Results from previous research that we have been involved before indicates that the Sharpe’s Longclaw prefers nesting close to the river riparian land especially in Ndaracai-ini area. The conservation of riparian will protect the soil erosion and preserve the habitat for the endangered Sharpe’s Longclaw among other biota.
Teaching conservation in Kinangop grassland must be holistic, touching most of the life aspects that affect people in Kinangop. Having worked in Kinangop before, I have realized that the problems here need local solution that are well integrated with best examples and practices that have worked well in other parts of the world.

Action in Kimuri secondary school
Students are the best ambassadors and vehicles through which conservation messages get to reach a wide coverage. Together with their teachers they have a higher multiplier effect because they interact with many people. Teachers, especially in Africa, command respect among their communities.
In our teaching, we are targeting the issues that affect the local people in Kinangop, and the most prone i.e. the farmers. In Kimuri secondary school, we are liaising with wildlife club patron and his counterpart from the young farmers club (YFC) to demonstrate the best practices in farming. The main practice is the organic farming, this is because it utilizes small piece of land for maximum yield. This helps the majority of the students who come from the Kinangop farming community to learn the best farming techniques that are sustainable.
By so doing we are able to explain why it is important to leave some patches of grasslands for soil conservation, livestock grazing fields and for birds’ habitats.
Livestock rearing is proving to be more economically viable especially in spreading and coping with risks that farmers face in their undertakings. Our goal is to change the behaviour and general perception of the local farmers and enable efficient sustainable land-use.
Kimuri School has set aside a portion of land for demonstrations. The school has also allowed other schools and group of farmers to use it. This will ensure that once the students learn the best practices, they will teach their parents and the whole population will change for better. In this activities, Mr. Andrew Mwangi, who is the Sharpe’s Longclaw reserve manager is helping in coordinating and making follow-ups of the demonstrations in Kimuri.

Dry season grassland birds monitoring in Murungaru with selected school’s students
On 19th February 2011, students from various schools participated in this years’ dry season grassland bird monitoring. The schools were; Murungaru, Kimuri, Hajo and Ndaracai-ini. Seven students from each school were selected. The students learnt the monitoring techniques and census methods that the Friends of Kinangop Plateau (FOKP) monitoring team uses during the biannual grassland birds monitoring. This kind of teaching is aimed at passing basic research principles to the youngsters who will be helping the FOKP group to ensure sustainability of this important activity.
Three sites were visited, namely; Kirima, Githunguri and Ndaracai-ini. The next monitoring exercise will be done in August this year.

Environmental Game
Most of the activities in School were conducted outdoors. Environmental game was introduced in three schools namely; Murungaru, Kienjero and Wheatland secondary school.
Demonstration of environmental game
This game is an improvement of a traditional game called “Bau” which originated initially from central Africa . Two or more people playing using beads/ grains and dice. The beads or grains represent different natural resources. The game demonstrate how resources to be utilized sustainable without depleting others.
The student in these schools liked the game and its meaning hence more schools will be involved in future and do regular evaluations to measure the effectiveness on the game as a teaching aid.

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