Successful conservation projects put people at the centre. MKT has worked tirelessly to build trusted partnerships with the communities who live on Mt Kenya.
We offer mobile clinics and door-to-door services for remote communities in Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga and Tharaka-Nithi Counties. Our clinics and community-based distributors provide free family planning, primary health care, HIV testing, counselling and cancer screening to over 1,500 patients per month.
We reach 20,000 children per year with conservation messages on the importance of the mountain ecosystem. We organise children’s visits to the mountain with the Kenya Wildlife Service, provide reading materials to schoolchildren (including our own Mount Kenya Ecology booklet) and show environmental films.
We help schools establish tree nurseries and woodlots to grow their own fuel and reduce the pressure of wood supply from the forest. Schools have halved their energy bills and revenue from selling seedlings has been used to build gates or buy textbooks. These projects also encourage students to nurture and plant their own seedlings in the school grounds or in their homes, and to be self-sufficient in their own energy supply.
ENERGY SAVING STOVES
We provide schools with energy saving stoves (jikos) that use less wood and hold more heat, to reduce their fuel bills and reduce pressure on the natural forest for firewood. The jikos are cleaner and emit less smoke, which is better for cooks’ health and the nutrition of the pupils.
COMMUNITY WATER PROJECTS
Water Resource Users Associations are community groups mandated to look after the watercourses in their region. Many of these groups are under-resourced and we help to provide support through equipment such as water tanks or guttering or technical advice.
MT KENYA EWASO WATER PARTNERSHIP
Driven by its motto, ‘Maji yetu, Jukumu letu’ (Our water, Our responsibility), MKT work closely with the Mount Kenya-Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) which was launched in 2016 to address water related risks in the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment. MKEWP provides a platform to address challenges regarding water allocation and use management, water resource infrastructure development and institutional capacity in the catchment.
Our ground-breaking Mount Kenya Elephant Corridor reconnects a 14 km elephant migration route between the mountain and the Samburu lowlands, dramatically reducing human-elephant conflict. It is a conservation success story serving both wildlife and people. Communities are better protected and the elephants are safer and free to migrate in search of food, minerals and mates.
Over 1,000 elephants used the route in 2019, via its underpasses under main roads, as well as bushbuck, duiker, jackal, leopard, zebra, porcupine, reedbuck, serval cat, spotted hyena, warthog and wild dog. Even a lost rhino wandered in! Global recognition came with the extension of the Mt Kenya UNESCO World Heritage Site to include the Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, thanks to the functionality of the corridor.
Our Joint Wildlife Patrol Team is a rapid response team that handles illegal activities on the mountain, headed by Edwin Kinyanjui, KWS Honorary Warden and Disney Conservation Hero (2017). Our Imenti Patrol Team tackles threats to the Imenti Forest Reserve, a once-neglected area that has been heavily logged and grazed, which we are now replanting with indigenous trees.
Our 5-strong Horseback Patrol Team covers vast distances on hardy Ethiopian ponies to monitor the forests and moorlands, with high altitude satellite camps extending their reach. Our Marania Guards were set up 20 years ago as a team of ex-poachers, working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service for multi-day camping patrols to combat poaching.
HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT MITIGATION
Populations densities are high around Mt Kenya and conflict with wildlife is a major issue. With the help of local communities and the Kenya Wildlife Service, we have built solar-powered electric fences along the western side of the mountain to protect farms from wildlife. We work closely with the Rhino Ark charity as they build a game-proof fence around the entire Mount Kenya National Reserve.
Our teams are frequently called out to assist with problem animals attacking livestock or people. We are setting up one-way elephant gates to ensure that stranded elephants can safely re-enter the forest, but cannot get out again except via the secure Northern Mt Kenya corridor. Once the gates are established, we will support front-line farmers with ‘beehive fences’ to deter elephants and provide income from honey.
We work with the Kenya Forest Service and local Community Forest Associations to restore indigenous forest on degraded areas. We have planted over a million trees over the last decade at Irangi, Ontulili, Imenti, Marania and Ruthumbi, with new sites added each year.
We support the ‘Trees Establishment Livelihood Improvement Scheme’ in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Service and local Community Forest Associations. This allows people to grow crops such as potatoes between the young trees during the first 4-5 years of forest establishment. While managing their crops, they protect the trees from livestock and wildlife.
In sites too steep for cultivation, along rivers or inside the National Park, we contract community members to dig holes and plant trees to restore the natural forest.
COMMUNITY TREE NURSERIES
We source most of our seedlings from nurseries run by women or self-help groups. They use the income to set up small shops, buy pedigree livestock, pay school fees or acquire farm equipment.
We set up our own tree nursery in 2016 to grow indigenous seedlings for out-planting on the mountain and as a ‘best practice’ demonstration site for school children and community group visits.
If smoke is seen on the mountain, teams and equipment (with aerial support) are mobilised within hours to identify the location of the fire and to get fire-fighting teams on site. Fires are fought with a combination of manpower, fire breaks and water doused from helicopters or spray planes.
ELITE MOUNTAIN FIRE TEAM
MKT are training an elite team of 50 firefighters to be ready and well equipped to deal with the dangerous fires on Mt Kenya (and our neighbouring mountain range – the Aberdares).
These teams of 10 will be on standby whenever a fire is identified, and will not only be provided with advanced training in fire-fighting techniques but will be given the appropriate safety equipment required.