ARK’s usual research activities have continued FULL STOP at Sabaki River Mouth over the preceding week, and new research to aid in developing a management plan for the area has gained ground after a month of waterbird and visitor surveys. I (Kate from the University of Cape Town) have been lucky to work with the local conservation group at Sabaki to collect hundreds of hours worth of data on human visitation and activity and waterbird distribution in the estuary. With more than 200 visitor surveys having been conducted throughout October – Kenyan and foreign tourists, students and teachers visiting the estuary for educational trips have all had their say on how conservation, education, and tourism can be improved at Sabaki.
As for the birds… after a rush of Eurasian Golden Orioles, the Barn Swallows are now moving through, and a few of the less-frequent visitors have been spotted at Sabaki. A lone Garganey tried unsuccessfully to camouflage itself in a flock of White-faced Whistling Ducks last week and we have picked up some Three-banded and Kittlitz’s Plovers during our waterbird counts. Flocks of Pink-backed Pelicans have been roosting up-river from the flamingos and terns during low-tide. On the full moon this past Saturday, we again braved the night to count the thousands of terns which roost on the sand flats near the beach at Sabaki.
Amongst all of the bird-counting, we’ve been perfecting household surveys and hope to complete 200 of them in the coming month. This information will illustrate the economic importance of the estuary’s natural resources to local livelihoods, and thus provide an informed framework to implement a management plan for this area. It’s clear, from the attention garnered by the illegal land-grabbing which has occurred in Sabaki, that both the people living here and conservation NGOs are highly motivated to get this area formally protected for both biodiversity and people! Please show your support for protection of Sabaki River Mouth by writing to the National Environment Management Authority (www.nema.go.ke). For more information about my master’s research, feel free to comment here on the blog or email questions to [email protected]