The last Friday we had the opportunity to go personally to the forest with the FSF (Friends of Shimoni Forest), and enjoy of this endangered ecosystem with the persons that are fighting harder to preserve it. Hassan, one of the three trained guides of the FSF, walked us through the forest, leading us to some of the most remote parts, most of them new to us. This is the same walk tourists take when they come to visit the forest.
For all those who don’t know it yet, the FSF is a CBO (Community Based Organization) based in Shimoni. It was founded as an initiative of the community, with the help of GVI. Their objective is guaranteeing the conservation of this endangered forest, trying to develop sustainable uses of this forest which is so necessary for their livelihoods. One of their most successful projects was the creation of a forest tour, and the money they get from tourism is put back onto the community, in the form of different projects of grants to students.
And what was the result of our guided tour through the forest? A lot of Angolan black and white colobus, sykes monkeys, hornbills, tons of insects… but it was not only about what we saw. Hassan gently provided us with tons of background information and different stories about the forest, the plants and their medicinal uses and about the local culture. We visited one of the “kayas”, a sacred place of the forest where spirits inhabit and which serves for oration and prayer. After enjoying of such a trip, it’s not strange that tourists always turn out of the forest enthusiastic about all they have seen.