• Construction of fence was a significant conservation achievement, with approximately Sh100 million invested to secure the 43.3 kilometre-long forest reserve boundary.
• Rhino Ark says fence is ensuring the forest is secure and as such, it is a long-term conservation solution that needs to remain in place.
Heavy rain has destroyed 110 metres of the fence around Mau Eburu forest reserve.
The fence meant to resolve human-wildlife conflict is in need of repairs, Rhino Ark, a local conservation NGO, said on Wednesday.
“Maintaining the fence is a continuous process that requires deep commitment,” it said in a statement.
Construction of the Eburu Electrified Fence was a significant conservation achievement, with approximately Sh100 million invested to secure the 43.3km-long forest reserve boundary.
The initiative has resolved human-wildlife conflict and is ensuring the forest is recovering from years of willful destruction. It was spearheaded by Rhino Ark with support from partners such as the M-Pesa Foundation, the government of Kenya and James Finlay Kenya.
It is the first conservation fence to be constructed around a mountain forest ecosystem within the Rift Valley, heralding a new dawn in conservation efforts within the highly threatened Mau Forest Complex.
In December 2010, Rhino Ark made a formal commitment to support conservation of other mountain forest ecosystems, building on the experience of the Aberdare fence project.
The Mau Eburu Forest has already been fenced with a 43.3km-long electric fence.
Completed in 2014, the fence provided the basis for a multi-faceted conservation strategy.
Eburu forms part of a wider Rift Valley ecosystem and conservation area encompassing Lakes Nakuru, Elementaita and Naivasha, the Soysambu Conservancy and the Mt Longonot and Hell’s Gate national parks.
Eburu Forest spans 87 square kilometres of prime indigenous habitat on Mount Eburu, whose highest peak Ol Doinyo Eburu stands 2,820 metres above sea level, forming part of the catchment for Lakes Naivasha and Elementaita.
This natural forest, rich in biodiversity, is home to more than 40 species of mammals, including the critically endangered Mountain Bongo antelope.
However, surrounded on all sides by human settlement and impacted by illegal logging and charcoal burning, the forest cover had been seriously degraded and the wildlife decimated by bushmeat hunting.
Some of the wildlife in the forest include hyenas, leopards, giraffes and zebras, among others.
On Wednesday, the NGO said the terrain of Eburu, coupled with poor local road infrastructure and in some cases, extreme weather presents major logistical challenges to the fence maintenance work.
“This challenge has seen the 12-man fence maintenance team scrambling to respond to seal the gaps in the fence and ensure that forest wildlife does not invade adjacent farmlands.”
It said the hard work of the full-time team is backed by a well-established system coordinated and supported by Rhino Ark.
“A technical oversight committee, fence vehicle, tools, equipment, materials, training and other resources provide the comprehensive operational support necessary to keep the fence in full working order all year round.”
The organisation said the fence is ensuring the forest is secure and as such, it is a long-term conservation solution that needs to remain in place.
It said the funding for fence maintenance is provided by Rhino Ark’s wider family, particularly the Rhino Charge community through their annual fundraising efforts.
“We sincerely appreciate the support we continue to receive from our supporters. Without you, this good work would not be possible, and we call upon you to continue to stand with us through your fundraising support and encouragement as we carry on with this epic conservation journey, in particular at this difficult time.”
Edited by R.Wamochie