I first arrived in Shimoni, a remarkable coastal community tucked away in southern Kenya close to the border with Tanzania, in November 2005, to set up GVI’s wildlife research and community development expedition. Since the beginning of 2006 we have been working closely with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the local villagers to integrate scientific research in to conservation managament of the incredible natural ecosystems found here whilst supporting sustainable development amongst the local communities.
Our marine research programme aims to provide the first long term data on dolphin populations in Kenya, looking for answers to the most basic questions such as which species we have, how many individuals are there, and how are they using the marine habitats. Working in and around the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Protected Area, home to some of Kenya’s most stunning coral reefs, we are also assisting local partners such as Kenya Sea Turtle Conservation Committee to understand more about the endangered sea turtles here.
On dry land, we are undertaking surveys in Shimoni’s globally important but increasingly threatened coastal forest, to assess it’s importance for biodiversity conservation and monitor the nationally important population of the beautiful and charismatic Angolan Black and White Colobus.
With our research base in the remote, traditional community of Mkwiro, at the eastern end of Wasini Island, we have been supporting KWS in community development initiatives, delivering education to both school children and dedicated adult classes, helping the orphanage, and working with community groups to develop sustainable ways of generating alternative incomes. Finally, away from the coast, we are supporting the World Society for the Protection of Animals, in a ground-breaking project to help conserve Kenya’s big game. Working with groups of former wildlife poachers on the edge of Tsavo West National Park, we are trying to combat the bush meat trade and destructive charcoal burning practices by building alternative livelihoods.