Category Archives: Transect cutting

Transect Completed In Shimoni West Forest

Good morning (in Kenya anyway!),

I have some good news for those who have been following our progress in Shimoni west forest….we have completed cutting transect 1!

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I will briefly explain.  GVI have been conducting research in Shimoni east forest for four years now, with the surveys being conducted along our 6 transects.  Shimoni west forest is across the road on the other side of Shimoni village.  It is a bigger forest (about twice the size of east), and it is suspected that it has a larger population of black and white colobus.  Unfortunately it also has more human disturbance, with power saws and charcoal burning an all too common occurrence. 

A map showing Shimoni west forest (circled in white), Shimoni village and part of Shimoni east forest (far right)

A map showing Shimoni west forest (circled in white), Shimoni village and part of Shimoni east forest (far right)

There have been two colobus census conducted in the west forest, one in 2001 and one in 2007.  We have been wanting to start long term monitoring of the west forest for some time now, and in October last year we began the long (and sweaty) process of setting up permanent transects in the forest.  Because we are still continuing with our surveys in Shimoni east, we have only been able to dedicate one or two days of transect cutting per week in the west forest.  Although slow, our progress has been steady, and at the end of last expedition (December 2009) we had cut 1.5km of our north/south spine and had begun cutting transect 1. 

Will swinging his panga

Will swinging his panga

We are planning a systematic grid of transects, that will be placed randomly (with regards to colobus distribution) within Shimoni west.  This is the method originally used to set up the transects in Shimoni east.  Our transects are divided up into sections, with one section being 50m long.  This allows us to record where on the transects sightings occur, and also to make survey effort (essentially how many metres of transect have been surveyed) easily established.  Our longest transects in Shimoni east have 32 positive sections (a positive section being any section east of the north/south spine.  The transect we have just completed in west, has 34 positive sections (1700m)!  We are yet to start cutting the negative sections (west of the north/south spine), but we are still proud of our achievement. 

Rita and Stella cutting tags (markers)

Rita and Stella cutting tags (markers)

It is incredibly hard work cutting transects, as all we have are pangas (machetes) and the strength in our arms!  Sometimes one can get several hundred metres in a day, other times it can take several hours to get ten metres! It all depends on the vegetation you are trying to get through.  The final few sections of the our new transect 1 were brutal – endless thorn bushes!  We all came out with our arms in tatters, but with an enormous sense of achievement.


The long, hot, but victorious walk home!

The long, hot, but victorious walk home!

 Once we have our transects set up in Shimoni west, we can start doing long term monitoring on the colobus populations and behavior, biodiversity and anthropogenic disturbance.  Collecting such data is the critical first step in raising awareness and establishing the conservation status of Shimoni west.  We can then look into expanding the community conservation initiatives and work of Friends of Shimoni Forest across both east and west forests. 

We will keep you updated on the progress!


1KM Into Shimoni West!

Hey everyone,

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed the last couple of blogs about our marine team working with the Funzi Turtle Club.  I’m rather jealous I wasn’t able to go along with them!  I have had my hands full here on the mainland, carrying on with our coastal forest research. 

We have been pushing on through the heat and the sweat towards our goal of setting up survey transects in Shimoni west forest.  The last time I spoke about this I think we’d got about 600 metres up our future north / south spine. 


 Andy having a swing

We went in with a GPS a couple of days ago to continue plotting our progress, and to our delight we found that we had gone 1037 metres!  We’ve broken the kilometer mark!  By our estimations the north / south spine is going to be approximately 1.8 – 2 km long, allowing for up to 10 survey transects! 

This highlights how far we have yet to go, as each transect is going to be longer than the spine, but we are not backing down!  Our panga (machete) arms are bulging and our hands are blistered, but the future of research in Shimoni’s beautiful and unique coastal forest is in our hands, and every hour we spend in there takes us closer to assessing the conservation status of Shimoni west.


 Andy and Chelsea

Once we’ve uploaded the GPS points onto the map, I’ll stick them up on the blog so you can all have a look for yourselves!