Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gorilla Population Increases

It is now official that the number of one of the world’s most charismatic and endangered species is out and its good news to the world today especially the enthusiastic conservationists. This is according to the partial report posted by the African Wildlife Foundation in Kigali, Rwanda.
The analysis of the census conducted in last year indicates that there were a total of 480 mountain gorillas, (Gorilla beringei beringei), in 36 groups along with 14 solitary silverback males in the Virunga Massif.
Along with the 302 mountain gorillas censured in Bwindi in 2006 and four orphaned mountain gorillas in a sanctuary in DRC, this brings the new total world population to 786 individuals. The last census undertaken in the Virunga Massif was in 2003, when the population was estimated at 380 individuals.
The current figure represents a 26.3 % increase in the population of mountain gorillas in this area over the last seven years, which is a 3.7 % annual growth rate. This increase in the population occurred despite the killing of no less than nine mountain gorillas, in four separate incidents, during this time period.
Of the 480 mountain gorillas censured, 352 (73%) were habituated (349 in groups and three solitary males) and 128 were unhabituated (117 in groups and 11 solitary males).
Virunga massif includes three contiguous national parks namely; Parc National des Virunga in DRC, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The only other location where mountain gorillas exist is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
The goal of the census was not only to assess the population level of the mountain gorillas, but their level of health as well. Analyses conducted on fecal samples will contribute to one of the most comprehensive health screenings of any wild ape population.
The results will also be extremely valuable in order to make comparisons between populations, and between habituated and unhabituated groups. These results will not only serve as a baseline for understanding the health status of the mountain gorillas, but may also provide insights into past and future exposure to human pathogens.
The census itself was an exercise in collaboration, and IGCP played a lead role in attracting support for the census and coordinating all participating institutions and organizations. Over 1,000 kilometers were systematically walked by six mixed teams of seventy-two people from DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Teams covered the entire range and meticulously documented fresh signs of mountain gorilla groups. Genetic analysis of fecal samples collected was analyzed to identify and correct for any double-counting of individuals or groups, ensuring the most accurate estimate for the population.
Although habituated mountain gorillas are continuously monitored, periodic census of the population is a necessary step in conservation. The census not only recorded the presence of mountain gorillas, but also the presence of other large mammals and illegal activities like bamboo cutting and snares.
While the incredible increase in this population of mountain gorillas is clearly a good thing and cause for celebration, the threats to their existence are persistent. Recently, a coordinated patrol discovered and destroyed just over 200 snares in the Virunga Massif over a five-day patrol. Although poachers typically do not target mountain gorillas, the snares they set are a threat nonetheless.
The Virunga Massif mountain gorilla census was conducted by the protected area authorities in the three countries: L’Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, the Rwanda Development Board and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The census was supported by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (a coalition of the African Wildlife Foundation, World Wide Fund for Nature, and Fauna & Flora International), the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund – International and the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
The census was funded by WWF-Sweden, Fair Play Foundation, and the Netherlands Directorate General for International Cooperation (DGIS) through the Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration.
The full report of the census, which will be available in 2011, will include details on population dynamics and distribution of the Virunga gorilla population as well as population structure and genetic composition. These details will provide a scientific basis from which IGCP and other conservation institutions and organizations will plan collective conservation efforts.
PKP-Kenya Safari desk
Natural Track Safaris


Maasai are one of the best known African tribes.
Perhaps they are so well known because of their tall elegant muscular features or their fierce and brave reputation or maybe because of their simple yet distinctive appearance with ochre covered warriors proudly holding their spear and wearing their bright blood-red shoulder cloak
(shuka/kanga) and the women wearing bangles and strings of colored beads around their neck (both sexes wear earrings, taking pride in stretching large holes in their ear lobes).
The Maasai becomes clearer during the nineteenth century which saw increasing western encroachment into Kenya. This took the form of missionaries and explorers. The missionaries were keen to convert tribes to Christianity , halt slave trading and stop some of the Maasai practices which they perceived as barbaric ( such as dressing almost naked and leaving their dead for wild animals rather than having a burial ceremony). Under the great pressure from foreign influence and more inter tribe warfare; the Maasai were deeply affected when rinderpests (a cattle disease) struck their herds around 1880-1890. The reduced grazing led to more woodland which encouraged breeding of the harmful Tse Tse fly. The Maasai were also hit with drought, famine, smallpox and cholera. Later they were forced out of even more of their land which had already been bisected by the Kenya- Uganda railway and in the early 1960 they also lost more of their territory during the government land redistribution program which included the creation of the Maasai Mara game reserve. The Maasai still remain one of the great nomadic tribe of the modern world.
The Maasai are semi nomadic pastoralists who rear cattle and as a result sometimes have to travel searching for new grazing pastures.  The cattle are fundamental to the tribe’s survival and this has led to an almost mystical relationship. The Maasai believe that their God granted all cattle to them for safe keeping when the earth and sky split (they feel this justifies them raiding cattle from other tribes). The cattle serve many purposes, their milk and blood is used for food. The hide is used for mattresses, shoes and other accessories; their dang is used for plastering hut walls, their urine for medicinal purposes, and their meet for food. Blood is obtained by shooting an arrow at close range through the cattle vein, then capturing he spilled blood into a gourd were it can be mixed with milk. Cattle are a major sign of wealth and exchanged during marriage to pay for the bride.
Maasai families live in an Enkang a form of enclosure formed by a thick acacia fence. This protects Maasai and their cattle especially at night from predators. The enkang may contain 10-20 small huts (manyattas). Maasai huts (manyatta) are very small with perhaps two rooms and not enough height for tall people to stand upright. They are also very dark with small halls at the wall which are used as vent to let the light in.
The Maasai are a proud and independent people who have survived despite incredible pressure; however their greatest challenges remain over. They are losing their grazing land and ability to roam freely throughout the country because most of the land has been taken for conservancy or large scale farming. The young generation is being influenced by modern school and town’s development. Some Maasai may seek comfort and income from tourism and neglect their ways of survival. Maasai are beautiful people.
PKP. Kenya safari desk


Tanzania was formed by the political union between mainland Tanganyika and the offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba. The two parts of the union attained independence separately, the mainland (Tanganyika) in 1961 and Zanzibar in 1963 and a year later formed a union under the new name of Tanzania. The coastal area was the subject of great maritime rivalry first between the Portuguese and Arab traders and later between various European powers. Zanzibar was well known for slaves and spice exportation.
In 1964, the Sultan was stopped in a communist inspired revolution and the majority of the Arab population were massacred and expelled. Later, the Sultan was replaced by Afro Shirazi party. It was during the reign of this party that Zanzibar and Pemba were merged with Tanganyika to form Tanzania. European explorers began arriving in the middle of the 19th century, two of the most famous being Livingstone and Stanley. In 1891 the German colonized the mainland and it was governed directly by the German government.
Meanwhile, Julius Nyerere found the Tanganyika African National Union, which envisioned villages becoming socialist organization created and governed by the local people. The economy was nationalized and taxed were increased. Nyerere banned government ministers and party officials from having shares or directorships in companies or from receiving more than one salary an attempt to prevent leaders from developing into an exploitative class. In 1985, Nyerere stepped down as president to lead his party (CHAMA CHA MAPINDUZI –PARTY OF THE REVOLUTION) Ali Hassan Mwinyi was elected and later Benjamin Mkapa preceded him. Jakaya Kikwete is the most recent president of Tanzania and the 4th president since the independent.
Unlike most of African countries, Tanzania’s population is not dominated by any one particular people from among 120 tribes occupying the country. The widespread tribe, the widespread is of Bantu origin. The wa-sukuma tribe is the largest. Other large tribes include wa-haya, wa-chaga, WA-nyamwezi, Wa- gogo, wa- hehe, Wa-ngoni, Wa-nyakyusia and the wa- Maasai who are dispersed across the northern plain and beyond into Kenya.
Tanzania is a home to many tourist attractions stretching from from wildlife to prehistoric times which has led archaeologists to regard the country as the cradle of mankind. The most important among others is Olduvai Gorge where Homo habilis, believed to be the ancestor of modern man was unearthed. The most and best tourism attractions in Tanzania are located in Northern of the country and includes world famous Serengeti National park which has spectacular seasonal migration of wildebeest. Mount Kilimanjaro which is Africans highest mountain. Ngorongoro reserve which has an extinct volcanic caldera. Tourism also stretches to the coast especially in Zanzibar and Pemba Island with beautiful beaches and, sport fishing and diving.

PKP- Kenia safaris desk

Weekend out after the week’s hustle and bustle.

What do you do after a busy week? Just SLEEP! How would you relax after a busy week? Would you spend it with loved ones or just alone by yourself? What activities are you going to do to relax your mind and body from gossiping and jumping whenever the BlackBerry buzzes in the office?   Somehow, we cannot escape all the distraction and stress at work but we can try a weekend out to refresh up our mind from; Annoying co-workers, Ringing telephones, Email notifications and Interrupted meals.
It will not take long for you to forget all this and most of all the traffic jams!
Where to go!
Kenya is a beautiful country with beautiful gardens, scenery and wildlife and many other activities. Considering the distance, you don’t need to focus on driving a long way. For instance Naivasha is one of the best places to visit during short weekend with a distance approximate 75kms.
You can take a boat ride on the lake to see hippos and beautiful birds, go for a walk among zebras and giraffe at Crescent Island, ride horses among wildebeest and gazelle at the sanctuary farm or in hotels and camps, ride bicycle among wildlife and dramatic scenery at the hells gate National park and many other activities. You can never run out of things to do including doing nothing at all.
Kenya is abundant of natural produce; combine with the rich variety of traditional food.
Kenyans are also formidable meat eaters. One of the best known Kenyan specialties is NYAMA CHOMA (rosted meat) this is usually slow-rosted over an open charcoal fire and served with a mixture of greens and Ugali. Ugali is the most loved staple food in Kenya. Essentially a stiff porridge of maize flour.
This can be made possible without breaking the bank. You can go out on weekends with friends or family at a pocket friendly price.
Meals are generally washed down with the local beer for those interested in the local beverages. Sodas are also widely available and it’s difficult to miss the saturation of advertisements for Sodas. Beers are offered in most locations. Tusker well know as (my beer, my country, stand tall..) and white cup including others are readily available with a reasonable prices. Rural bars also serve the local beers known as muratina but drink this at your own risk. Coffee and tea (chai) are also excellent and properly made. But you have to insist on ‘Turungi’ if you want tea without milk. Most coffee lovers are familiar with the quality of Kenyan coffee.
No matter what your taste in food, music, visual and performing arts, sightseeing and outdoor activities, the best of the best is found in up country, at any hour of the day or night.
PKP.Kenia safari desk
Natural Track Safaris


Located in semi arid region, Naivasha community and hotels are changing the face of tourism and future of conservation.  This was an area in decline parched by repeated drought, revenged by almost dying lake and destabilized by the departure of its once beautiful ample wildlife.
Much of Naivasha is ecosystem on brink of collapse.
Today, visitors go to do the king of things that most safariers only dream of and that very few places promise to offer. They spend the day walking through thick, green bush teeming with giraffe, waterbuck, dik-dik and zebra and by which at night are usually being accompanied by the hippopotamus. Boating is the main action which no visitor can afford to miss. Cycling and the horse back in the hells gate National Park is also one of the main activities in Naivasha.  The change has been nothing short of the spectacular as the number of the animals has increased in the last few years. This shows how people are friendly to fauna and flora, and thanks to Kenya Wildlife efforts.
Naivasha has become a place where compliance with environmental regulations is a norm. The hoteliers and the community have demonstrated a firm commitment to responsible Eco-tourism by eliminating the use of chemical fertilizer and established the use of composed manure in their farms.
This has fulfilled a comprehensive series of environmental economic and social criteria as well as raising awareness about environment. Together, they also actively promote best practice in waste management, energy and water conservation. Though there still space for improvement.
This place has become much more than a response to global calls for sustainable development and has proved that Eco-tourism as long as it’s implemented properly and transparently can help people in even the remotest places and make a living in process.
Be a part of it, enjoy hells gate national park and its environs and travel responsibly.
PKP. Kenia safari desk
Natural Track Safaris.