The Friends From Ireland and Galana Wildlife Conservancy Research and Conservation project took place in the GWC between the 17th and 29th of May, 2017. It was the second such research project under the 2016 Memorandums of Understanding between UCD and PU and between the ADC and GWC. Students came from Ireland, the UK, Kenya and the USA. Project Base-Camp was at Kulalu Camp with logistical support from Wells Fargo, the GWC, Kulalu Camp and the ADC.
Six undergraduates and a PHd student from PU conducted research on the Galana River under the guidance of Professor Bernerd Fulanda from PU.
Their focus was on the characterisation of the Athi-Galana-Sabaki system, identifying fish species and aquatic inhabitants. They placed nets at three separate points in the river which were recovered at intervals. More complete results will follow but species of catfish, tilapia, eel, African carp were recovered with several shrimp samples.
Three Masters Students from UCD conducted scat analysis on elephant, giraffe, impala, oryx and lion. The aim of the eDNA analysis is to establish the degradation of DNA in the target species when exposed to the climatic conditions of the Tsavo ecosystem and in particular the effects of UV light. Scat samples were taken from three separate individuals, of each species, at the time of defecation and on 1,2,4,8, 16, 24, 62 and 128 hrs. When the analysis is completed at UCD, under the supervision of Professor Jens Carlsson the results will be available to us.
The services of the GWC Warden and Scouts in the field were crucial. The sampling timeframes required visits to various areas of the GWC between 6am and Midnight and security of the researchers was a critical concern. They are to be complimented on their enthusiasm, professionalism and their engagement with all aspects of the project.
Conservation volunteers, working in conjunction with the research students also commenced work on the “Three Towers” project which are essentially observation towers for use by the GWC Scouts and researchers and located in strategic positions, on Tank Hill on the Northern side of the Lali Hills, on the high ground on the main road through the conservancy with views towards the Galana River and Tsavo East and the third at the Tree House. The post on Tank Hill was completed in full and the posts and metal bracing have been prepared for the main road. Further work on the posts will commence during the next FFI project in early September.
These research stations will fill the following critical roles:
1. Research Points for eDNA collection – through water traps and scat/scent marking.
2. Wildlife Count Stations – To build time/season/conditions/movements layers.
3. Provide OPs for the Warden and Scouts, KWS and other related agencies.
4. A crucial support to our infrastructure to assist in our application for inclusion as a World Heritage Site in keeping with the existing application by Tsavo East and West.
5.We also have a number of independently experienced visitors and researchers who would avail of these positions to assist in our conservation efforts. (an example being the Wildlife Management Masters student from Eldoret University who joined us on the project).
In addition, all research and conservation volunteers got involved in the further development of the research classroom at Kulalu Camp. A metal staircase was erected and a new lobby area created. The floors were further strengthened, the walls painted and counters installed at lab-bench level. Further work will be carried out in September. Work on a Perma-culture plot has also commenced with a view to encouraging such coursed in the future.
Many thanks to Wells Fargo for making all the metal components for the observation posts and the stairs to the classroom and for organising their delivery to Galana. Many thanks also to the Kulalu camp team who managed the needs of the whole group over the nine days in camp. A big task but carried out in a professional and understanding manner at all times.
Friends From Ireland, NGO. (FFI)
University College Dublin, Ireland. (UCD) – Pwani University College, Kenya. (PU)
Agricultural Development Corporation, Kenya. (ADC)
UCD Pwani Student Research Project
Student Field Research Project