Saving Hirola antelopes in Kenya

This video says about itself:

9 January 2013

Learn about the plight of the world’s most endangered antelope, the Hirola, and what is being done to keep them from extinction! This short video showcases an interview with passionate Kenyan conservationist, Ian Craig, and the team from the Ishaqbini Community Conservancy. It’s inspiring to see what can be achieved when a caring few come together to protect their natural heritage. By Giovanna Fasanelli.

From Wildlife Extra:

Good news in the crusade to save the endangered Hirola antelope

The critically endangered Hirola is the last living representative of an evolutionary lineage that originated over three million years ago. The surviving herds of fewer than 240 individuals only live along the Kenya-Somalia border, inhabited by the Pokomo community and Ishaqbini Conservancy.

Resembling a hybrid of Impala and Hartebeest, the Hirola is instantly recognisable by its trademark white “spectacles”.

In 2006, the Ishaqbini Hirola Community Conservancy was established by The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), The Nature Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), and community partners to protect Hirola.

Rangers began anti-poaching and wildlife monitoring activities and were able to eliminate poaching within the 19,000-hectare conservancy. A predator-proof sanctuary was then built and 48 Hirola were successfully translocated to the sanctuary in August 2012.

Ishaqbini is home to Somali pastoralists who voluntarily established this dedicated area for Hirola, assisted with the translocation, and continue to play a crucial role. The people of Ishaqbini have been quietly conserving this landscape for centuries and regard the Hirola as a blessing.

With poaching under control and habitat improving, the Hirola population began to show signs of recovery. A recent survey has shown that in fewer than three years 34 Hirola have been born in the sanctuary.

“A lot of people may not view 34 births in three years as significant, but with fewer than 240 Hirola left in the world we’re talking about the difference between survival and extinction,” said Matthew Brown, Africa Deputy Director, The Nature Conservancy.

“Without immediate action like this community partnership, a mammal would go extinct for the first time on mainland Africa in modern human history.”

Additionally, the other wild animals in the sanctuary such giraffes, zebras, Lesser Kudu, Gazelles, Ostrich and many others are significantly multiplying.

Elephants have made their way into the sanctuary for the first time, and there is now an elephant family of eight settled in their new secured habitat.

The project’s long-term goal is to release animals bred within the sanctuary back into the free-ranging population, ultimately building a viable population that is equipped to cope with natural levels of predation and competition.

Harry Roberts, British colonial war soldier and cop killer

This video from Britain says about itself:

24 March 2008

Harry Roberts shot dead three policemen in London on 12 August 1966. He was eventually caught after a manhunt lasting several weeks and was convicted. 42 years later and well into his 70’s he still remains behind bars and is refused parole.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Harry Roberts: He Kills Coppers

Saturday 25th october 2014

Harry Roberts, who killed three policemen in 1966, is to be released on parole. PETER FROST looks back at the life of this colonial soldier turned murderer

Harry Roberts, now aged 78, is Britain’s longest-serving incarcerated murderer. He is due to be released on parole this week. Roberts, a professional gangster, was sentenced to life in 1966.

He has served nearly half a century in prison.

I well remember the long hot summer of 1966. Ann and I were planning our wedding. England beat Germany in the World Cup, Harold Wilson was having beers and sandwiches while talking to the TUC about a wage freeze. Groovy Kinda Love was the most popular choice on the jukebox.

On a sunny afternoon in quiet residential Braybrook Street in Shepherd’s Bush, not far from Wormwood Scrubs prison, and not far from where I was living at the time, three gun-toting London gangsters shot down three unarmed police officers.

The incident started when plain-clothes officers approached the van in which Roberts, Jack Witney and John Duddy were sitting planning the final details of an armed robbery nearby.

Roberts opened fire shooting dead two of the officers, while one of his accomplices fatally shot the third.

The shots would reverberate around the nation. Britain had finally abolished hanging just eight months before and the shooting reopened all the old arguments.

Harry Maurice Roberts was born in 1936 in Wanstead, Essex, where his parents ran The George public house.

His was a criminal family. Mother sold stolen and black market goods and fake ration books. Later the bent family business would move to a café in north London.

In his late teens, Roberts was jailed after using an iron bar to attack a shopkeeper during a robbery. He served a 19-month borstal sentence and was released in January 1956.

Just a week after leaving borstal, Roberts was called up for national service. He loved it. They gave him a gun and taught him how to kill Britain’s enemies in both Kenya and Malaya.

Later in life and in many prison interviews Roberts would boast of how many Mau Mau Kenyan freedom fighters and Malayan communists he had shot and killed. This was at a time of the worst excesses of British imperialism.

The freedom fighters of the Kenyan Land and Freedom Army were branded as Mau Mau terrorists and jailed, hanged and shot in their thousands.

In Malaya it was communists that Roberts and his fellow soldiers were encouraged to murder. This was the time when the Daily Worker published pictures of British soldiers holding up the severed heads of murdered Malayan communists.

Journalist and former armed robber John McVicar met Roberts in prison. Roberts gloated about his killings, telling McVicar that he had acquired a taste for killing prisoners of war on the orders of his officers.

Back in civvies Roberts returned to his criminal career. Often with Witney and Duddy he carried out scores of armed robberies, targeting bookmakers, post offices and banks.

In 1959 Roberts and an accomplice posed as tax inspectors to gain entry into the home of an elderly man. Once inside the man was tied up and beaten about the head with a glass decanter.

Roberts was captured and tried for the savage crime. Mr Justice Maude said as he passed sentence: “You are a brutal thug. You came very near the rope this time.”

Roberts was given seven years. The victim, who never recovered from his injuries, died one year and three days after the attack. Had he died two days earlier, Roberts could have been tried for his murder under the year and a day rule.

The victims of the Shepherd’s Bush shooting were 41-year-old police constable Geoffrey Fox, detective sergeant Christopher Head, aged 30, and 25-year-old temporary detective constable David Wombwell.

Roberts went on the run with a £1,000 reward on his head. He hid in woods in Hertfordshire to avoid capture. He knew the woods from games as a child and, using his army survival skills, he evaded capture for 96 days. Roberts was finally captured by police while sleeping rough in a barn.

He was convicted of all three police murders and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended minimum term of 30 years.
While in prison he showed no remorse. On the contrary he made macabre apple pies decorated with pastry cut-outs of policemen being shot. Numerous appeals for release on parole were turned down over the years.

The trial judge at the time of sentencing told him that it was unlikely that any future Home Secretary would “ever think fit to show mercy by releasing you on licence… This is one of those cases in which the sentence of imprisonment for life may well be treated as meaning exactly what it says.”

Theresa May, always keen to upset the police it seems, has decided otherwise.

Peter Frost blogs at

Gangs of more extreme football hooligans, some of whom would go on to form the fascist English Defence League, used Roberts’s name to antagonise the police. They chanted “Harry Roberts is our friend, is our friend, is our friend. Harry Roberts is our friend, he kills coppers.”

More Kenyan, Tanzanian rare wildlife than thought

This video from Tanzania is called Eastern Arc Mountains Refuge.

From BirdLife:

Many more threatened species in an East African biodiversity hotspot than previously thought

By Obaka Torto, Fri, 19/09/2014 – 10:05

The Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania and Kenya (EACF) are currently understood to host over 750 globally threatened species of plants and animals, more than double the 333 species listed in an assessment undertaken in 2003. This is according the newly released 2008-2013 biodiversity status and trends report for the EACF, a region that now forms parts of both the ”Eastern Afromontane” and ”Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa” global biodiversity hotspots.

In addition to 26 species now listed as more threatened than 10 years ago, the increase is mostly attributed to a comprehensive assessment of plants, which was not available in the previous assessment. New species descriptions for the region are also highlighted, including 20 amphibians and reptiles, one mammal and one plant species. The report recommends consideration of a further 17 sites for recognition as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs), owing to the presence of globally threatened taxa within them.

Threats that are reported as facing biodiversity in the EACF include unsustainable charcoal production, which is a major driver of the decline in forest cover and habitat fragmentation in Dakatcha Woodlands in Kenya, important for the endangered Clarke’s Weaver Ploceus golandi and Sokoke Scops-owl Otus ireneae. Other threats include conversion of forest for agriculture, human population increase and forest fires. Invasive species are underscored as probably a more serious problem in the region than had previously been realised. At least 22 invasive plant species are considered problematic, with Maesopsis eminii, Rubus sp. and Cedrela odorata being probably the most serious. In Kenya, Prosopsis juliflora is reported to have invaded the Tana River Delta.

On a positive note, improved forest management resulting from improved protection status is observed at some sites. Among these are three forest blocks in Amani Nature Reserve, Tanzania, which changed from private to state tenure. Evidence also continues to emerge supporting the effectiveness of a Participatory Forest Management (PFM) approach; this is demonstrated by increased populations of wild game species in some sites, such as West Usambara, where PFM is implemented.

Further good news for the region follows implementation of new Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects, especially in Tanzania: for example, Piloting REDD in Zanzibar through community forest management project and Making REDD work for communities and forest conservation in Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Tanzania project”. These projects are designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to improve livelihoods in local communities by making them beneficiaries of REDD financing. However, the report recommends that successful REDD projects must have a strong focus on strengthening village institutions to ensure high levels of compliance and enforcement of forest user rules within project boundaries.

The report finally highlights some recent positive policy developments. Among these is the development of the conservation strategy for the Eastern Arc Mountain Forests in Tanzania. Also highlighted is the development of an action plan for conservation in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest which emphasizes enhancement of connectivity and quality of habitat and security of elephants while safeguarding against human-wildlife conflict. The enactment of the Kenya Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, as well as the Tourism Act and policy in Tanzania are also highlighted.

The EACF runs 900 km along the Kenya-Tanzania coasts and includes Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands off the Tanzanian mainland. The region is very important for its biological diversity and richness. It is characterized by a high level of species endemism, exceptional diversity of its plant and animal communities and a severe degree of threat. This report is a result of a recently concluded BirdLife project that aimed at consolidating and presenting biodiversity data for the region in order, among other objectives, to increase leverage of REDD+ and REDD Readiness for the EACF. The report mostly relies on collating published information from a variety of sources, including direct contributions by the researchers in the region.

The project was implemented by the BirdLife Africa Partnership Secretariat and Nature Kenya (BirdLife Partner). It was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Dévelopement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure that civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.

A copy of this and previous reports for the region can be downloaded from

Story by: Mercy Kariuki and Kariuki Ndang’ang’a

International Vulture Awareness Day, 6 September

This video says about itself:

International Vulture Awareness Day, 2011, Kenya

Kenya celebrates the International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) by showing the diversity of species, illustrating their critical role in the environment and focusing on their main cause for their widespread decline, poisoning with pesticides.

Dr Richard Leakey makes a personal statement regarding his own experience in witnessing the decline of vultures and highlights the need for governments to tackle poisoning issues seriously, otherwise the future of vultures is certain. IVAD is a global event with awareness campaigns in the Americas, throughout Africa, Europe, Asia and the far East. Vultures have declined as much as 95% over South Asia and India because of the side-effect of diclophenac, a pharmaceutical drug meant to relieve pain in livestock.

Wind turbines and electricity lines are proving to be another serious hazard for vultures all over the world. Habitat removal and disturbance also play major roles in their declines. Vultures are one of the most beneficial animals due to their “clean-up” work and removing carcasses that would otherwise rot and encourage disease. In Kenya vultures play a vital role in not only wildlife health but in the pastoral livestock rearing lands and in community public health. Join us in celebrating the vulture!

Saturday 6 September is not only World Shorebirds Day. It is also International Vulture Awareness Day.

From North African Birds blog today:

Looking at the International Vulture Awareness Day website, we can see that two regional organisations are celebrating the event this weekend (open the link and search, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia and see for yourself):

– The Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO) – BirdLife in Tunisia, and

GREPOM BirdLife Morocco

The country with more vultures than the others, Algeria, is not participating (so far).

Vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime warn conservationists: here.