Wildlife Clubs of Kenya

Time photo 5 Near threatened in Longonot
Time photo 4 Near threatened in Longonot
Grant's zebra

Status of registration of the group at national level

Nonprofit, with certificate of exemption from registration (Kenya)

Governance and management structure of the group

WCK is a nongovernmental, nonpolitical, charitable organization formed in 1968 with the government’s mandate to empower the young people of Kenya with conservation knowledge. WCK is run by a national secretariat, backed by a 20-member governing council and an executive committee of specialists in conservation education, business and public administration. The organization uses schools and other learning institutions as an entry point into communities to advance environmental education. WCK promotes diverse ecosystem awareness-raising and conservation empowerment in Nairobi National Park, Ngong Forest, Mombasa Marine National Park and Reserve, Lake Victoria and Lake Nakuru National Park, in addition to other major donor-funded projects.

Exact location, including geographic coordinates

The proposed land purchase lies at the base of Mount Longonot National Park in the Great Rift Valley, 90 kilometres northwest of Nairobi. S 0°54′48′′, E 36°29′11′′

Short description of the area and the land to be purchased

The proposed land purchase lies at the base of Mount Longonot and is visited by wildlife from Mount Longonot National Park and from other parts of the Lake Naivasha basin in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya. Mount Longonot is a young stratovolcano, rising 2,776 meters above sea level, and has a savannah ecosystem. Its sides are steep and sparsely vegetated but the crater itself is densely forested. The vegetation is mainly grassland and shrubs, dominated by camphor bushes (Tarchonanthus camphoratus) and several varieties of acacia trees. More than one hundred species of birds have been recorded, including the Near Threatened bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus). Other threatened species found in the area include hippopotami (Hippopotamus amphibious), ungulates such as Thomson’s gazelle (Gazella thomsonii)leopards (Panthera pardus)cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)Naivasha mole rats (Tachyoryctes naivashae) and mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula). The basin is rich in biodiversity and has become a major tourist attraction. There are three national parks (Aberdare, Mount Longonot and Hell’s Gate), several private wildlife sanctuaries, protected forests and a fertile farming zone supporting a rich variety of wildlife, including zebra (Equus burchelli boehmi)impala (Aepyceros melampus), and Kirk’s dik-dik (Madoqua kirkii). The land around the mountain is privately owned. Maasai pastoralists are selling their land to small-scale farmers, who in turn are cutting down vegetation to create land for farming and settlement.

Main threats

  1. Losing species of conservation concern: Mount Longonot National Park is only 52 square kilometres in size. Acquiring an additional 3.3 hectares for wildlife habitat will signal the need to create more protected habitats for endangered species. Species we are particularly concerned about include the leopard, which is Near Threatened according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The rarely seen mountain reedbuck is also a species of special concern in this area because it is rarely found in other parts of the Longonot-Hell’s Gate ecosystem.
  2. Diminishing wildlife dispersal area: Wildlife in Mount Longonot National Park is under threat from surrounding small-scale farmers. The park’s wildlife is dependent on the adjoining ranches, especially Kedong Ranch, for periodic dispersal to Hell’s Gate National Park. The immediate challenge is the conversion of land from ranching to horticulture, which reduces the wildlife dispersal area and leads to an increase in human-wildlife conflict. Our project will mitigate this challenge in two ways: First, the purchased land will act as a wildlife dispersal area and sanctuary for wildlife outside the protected areas to prevent poaching and mitigate other dangers to the wildlife. Second, a conservation education/information centre will be constructed to initiate educational programmes intended to lobby, create awareness and educate schools, community groups and landowners about land use activities that are compatible with wildlife conservation.
  3. Spoiling existing protected habitats: Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has new geothermal generation sites in the nearby Hell’s Gate National Park. The development of new sites, disturbance, noise and waste disposal may render Hell’s Gate National Park unsuitable for wildlife, and many species may seek refuge in nearby Mount Longonot National Park. The only way to safeguard wildlife habitats in this conservation hotspot is through land purchase and land-lease programmes. Acquiring this parcel of land will therefore be an ideal example to showcase the way forward to protect the Longonot-Hell’s Gate ecosystem.

If this land is not purchased for conservation, it will most likely be converted into land use activities that are unfriendly or incompatible and destructive to wildlife, such as small-scale farming, horticultural farming, and the construction of private homes and settlements. KenGen is also searching for more sites for geothermal generation and some areas near Mount Longonot National Park have been earmarked as potential sites for future geothermal generation.

Estimated value ($) of a single hectare (average)

$44,818

Long-term conservation plan for the purchased land

WCK has experience managing similar properties. Our organization will demarcate about a quarter of a hectare to develop a conservation education centre and camping grounds for students and youth groups. The aims of this development will be to:

  1. Disseminate information to visitors and communities: There is currently no comprehensive educational programme or visitor information centre where tourists, local communities and schools can get information about Mount Longonot’s ecology and geology, as well as threats facing the ecosystem and possible solutions, including demonstration projects. The centre will also be a source for education materials including maps, film documentaries and conservation publications.
  2. Initiate conservation education and awareness programmes: Running conservation education and awareness programmes will help to instil conservation knowledge, interest and skills among school youth and community members. This programme is urgently needed due to the critical conservation issues facing the Longonot-Hell’s Gate ecosystem and will target schools, community groups, private ranchers and landowners. Disseminating education and raising awareness will be key to finding solutions to the existing conservation challenges and generating a positive change of attitudes. To further education and awareness, WCK also intends to establish school wildlife clubs, organize ecology trips, mark global conservation days with communities and schools, and conduct research.
  3. Generate income: Groups will camp at the site at a fee. Revenues collected from the campsite will be invested to build an eco-hostel. Income from the eco-hostel will enable the facility to become self-sustaining and pay for employees’ salaries.
  4. Increase the involvement of researchers and stakeholders: WCK intends to establish continuous bird watching, mammal identification and research programmes and to form a strong network of member clubs and stakeholders in order to encourage the engagement and support of birders, club members and researchers.

Finally, WCK hopes to increase the space available for conservation in the future. Landowners around Mount Longonot National Park are selling their land, making it possible for WCK to purchase more land adjacent to the current plot earmarked for this application.