Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Whole Forest Experience!

Week eight of expedition 103 and yet another species has potentially been discovered to live in the coastal forests of Shimoni! The last eight weeks have gone by in a blur of sun, rain, butterfly trapping, bird spotting, monkey watching, whale sightings, night walking, beach Olympics, barbeques, dancing, fasting for Ramadan, Baboons in the garden, data entry, meeting new friends, old friends leaving, walking, blisters, football, volleyball, swimming, tree planting and much, much more.
The last two months have been amazing. Only with GVI Kenya can you watch the Angolan black and white Colobus monkey in the morning, spot Humpback whales in the Wasini channel in the afternoon and then at dusk have hundreds of bats fly so close to you, you can feel the breeze. Then to top it off, to have well deserved cold tamarind juice, delicious Swahili food and good company with people from all over the world. Then to fall asleep to the sounds of the forest, ready to do something completely new and challenging the next day!

--Enjoying delicious local food after an amazing day of monkeys, whales and bats! --

Not only will you have the experience of a lifetime, if you come to GVI Kenya but you will also be doing some incredibly important work for Shimoni forest and the local people of Shimoni. With Shimoni forest being one of the 25 most important biodiversity hotspots in the world as well as having the highest densities of endemic vertebrates and being the smallest area. Never has it been more important to conserve this beautiful part of the world.
Loss of habitat is the single greatest threat the effects our forests. And this tiny unique place is shrinking rapidly from human intervention. Charcoal burning is a major issue and trees are being cut down in quick succession. Not only does this put a massive strain on the flora and fauna of this habitat it can cause whole ecosystems to be lost.

-- Dedicated conservation volunteers on forest surveys --

But all is not lost with GVIs hard work and the amazing dedication of volunteers, the forest can be protected whether it be through educating the local community on how better to treat their forest and why it’s so important or through the tireless research surveys GVI run.
Only this week we had a sighting of a strange looking creature that was seemingly not our well known Zanj Elephant Shrew; believed to be the Four Toed Elephant Shrew, which ran across our path whilst out exploring the forest. This rat sized elephant shrew seems almost half rabbit half shrew. Every time a new species is found living in this habitat it effectively strengthens our resolve that this forest is an incredible place filled with the most weird and wonderful creatures.

-- Weird and wonderful creatures; the Four Toed Elephant Shrew? --

On a personal note the time I have spent here has been the most fulfilling, exciting and memorable experience of my life, and I can’t wait to see what the following months have in store!