Kakamega Forest, Kenya's Last Tropical Forest Frontier

Kakamega Forest Kakamega Forest

Kakamega Forest, Kenya's Last Tropical Forest Frontier

Kakamega rainforest has dwindled greatly thanks to indiscriminate logging. Action is however being taken to reclaim 50,000 acres around the forest.

Kakamega forest is recognized as the eastern-most relic of the Guineo-Congolian lowland rainforest belt, which once stretched from Kenya across Uganda, East and Central Africa to the West African coast. Situated in Western Kenya, 35 km from Lake Victoria, Kakamega Forest is an exclusive sanctuary for an extraordinary variety of endemic flora and fauna, including insects, reptiles and birds which are not found in other parts of Kenya. An estimated 10 - 20% of the animal species in the forest are unique to this forest. Further the forest is also an important watershed for some of the rivers that flow into Lake Victoria.

As such, it is invaluable to the people living around it, as a source of income and subsistence through products such as timber, fuelwood, herbal medicines, pasture, building materials and food. However, much of the outer part appears to have been a mosaic of woodland, grassland and forest patches.

The United Nations Environment has teamed up with the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to reclaim 50,000 acres around this vital forest. Cabrine Nyona, a young conservationist explores why this reclamation exercise is critical.

The forest covers about 230 km2, and less than half of this area currently remains as indigenous forest. There are numerous grassy clearings and glades. Large mammals are rare in the forest, but the extensive variety of birds, reptiles and insects make it a specialist eco-tourism attraction for bird watchers and wildlife photographers.  Part of the forest also contains unique and rich highland ecosystems, but generally the fauna and flora of the Forest have not been studied comprehensively. The forest experiences a very wet climate, with over two meters of rain annually. The rainy seasons are April-to-May and August to September.

Author

Cabrine Nyona

Cabrine Nyona

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