The Friends of Kinangop Plateau is a community-based organization that works towards the conservation of birds, especially the endangered Sharpe's Longclaw, which is endemic to the Kinangop grasslands in Kenya. The organization engages local farmers and landowners in sustainable land management practices, environmental education, and ecotourism. I have been volunteering with them for over five year now, and I have learned a lot about the challenges and opportunities of grassroots conservation.
The Cranes Conservation Volunteer is another organization that I am proud to be part of. It works towards the conservation of the Grey Crowned Crane, which is a beautiful and charismatic bird that is threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and trade. The organization conducts surveys, monitors nests, rescues injured cranes, raises awareness, and supports community livelihoods. I have been volunteering with them for over six months, and I have witnessed the dedication and resilience of the people who care for these magnificent birds.
Volunteering in conservation of birds is a rewarding but challenging experience.I will share some of the difficulties I faced while working with two endangered species in Kenya: the grey crowned crane and the sharpes longclaw.
The grey crowned crane is a majestic bird with a golden crown and a red throat pouch. It lives in wetlands and grasslands, where it feeds on insects, frogs, and seeds. The sharpes longclaw is a small and shy bird heavily marked with buff and rufous streaks, yellow underparts, and white outer tail feathers in flight. It lives in high-altitude grasslands, where it feeds on worms and insects.
Both of these birds are threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. As a volunteer, I help to monitor their populations, protect their nests, and raise awareness among local communities.
Some of the challenges I face are:
-Finding and accessing the birds' habitats. The grey crowned crane lives in remote and often flooded areas, while the sharpes longclaw lives in steep and rugged terrain. I have to use a combination of GPS, binoculars, and local guides to locate and reach them.
- Dealing with harsh weather conditions. The wetlands where the grey crowned crane lives are hot and humid, while the grasslands where the sharpes longclaw lives are cold and windy. I have to wear appropriate clothing and equipment to cope with the climate.
- Communicating with different stakeholders. The birds' habitats are shared by farmers, herders, hunters, and tourists. I have to engage with them in a respectful and constructive way, explaining the importance of conservation and finding solutions to reduce conflict.
- Facing emotional stress. Seeing the birds suffer from human-induced threats is always heartbreaking. I also witnessed some of them die from natural causes or predation. I have to cope with the sadness and frustration that comes with the job.
Despite these challenges, I have had many positive experiences. I have learnt a lot about the birds' biology, behavior, and ecology. I have met many inspiring people who are dedicated to conservation. I also enjoy the beauty and diversity of Kenya's landscapes and wildlife. And most importantly, I feel that I am making a difference for these amazing birds.
In addition to my conservation work, I have also been pursuing my personal and professional development. I have completed my front-end development course and worked on a weather app project. I'm about to complete my software engineering course with the ALX program, which will equip me with the skills and knowledge to create innovative solutions for environmental problems using technology.
My future plans are to start my masters in 2024 in environmental studies. I have applied for a few scholarships and I hope to get an opportunity to further my education and career. I am passionate about conserving the biodiversity of Kenya and contributing to a sustainable future for people and nature.