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GVI have been working in Shimoni since January 2006 undertaking research in this important patch of 'coral rag' coastal forest, aiming to highlight its biodiversity conservation value and monitor the status of its beautiful but threatened Angolan black and white colobus monkey. We also recognise the importance of the forest to the local people as well as the wildlife and we hope to build capacity to sustain a harmonious relationship between them.
East Africa's coastal forests are a global biodiversity hotspot and here in Shimoni our forest supports one of Kenya's top 3 most critical populations of the Angolan black and white colobus, the critically endangered spotted ground thrush, near-threatened southern-banded snake eagle and the charismatic but vulnerable Zanj elephant shrew.
The communities of Shimoni, Anziwani and other local villages depend on their forest for fire wood, poles to build thier homes and trees to make the dug out canoes and fish traps that they still depend on for their principal livelihood, fishing, as they have for hundreds of years.
Shimoni forest also contains over 20 'kaya' forests - sacred shrines were ancestors were buried and village elders continue to respect centuries-old rituals and leave their offerings of honey and rose-water.
However Shimoni's forest is being lost at an alarming rate to property development, slash and burn agriculture, illegal logging and in the last few years, charcoal burning - the greatest threat to habitats in East Africa.
GVI have spent over 3 years surveying the forest, cataloguing the immense biological value of this isolated patch and also the rate of habitat loss. In November 2007 we helped set up Friends of Shimoni Forest, a community-based organisation that is taking our scientific research to the local community, raising awareness of both what they have and what they stand to lose.
The local community have begun their own patrols, supported by Kenya Wildlife Service, to protect their vital forest resources, their local administration has banned power saws, and with the help of GVI are reaching out to Shimoni's children so that they can take pride in their incredible natural resources and understand the global conservation value of their forest.
But Friends of Shimoni Forest need your help:
Community members can't afford to take a day out of earning money to feed their families, but just £10 would compensate for loss of earnings for a team of four to patrol the forest for a day.
Local charcoal burners have told us they would give up charcoal burning if they had an alternative income. Just £50 would fund bee-keeping training allowing them to make a living by harnessing the forest resources rather than exploiting them.
We plan to launch the Friends of Shimoni Forest School Fund (FSF-SF!); the children of Shimoni access Primary education for free but have to pay to enter secondary education, an expense that is often out of reach of many families. We aim to offer scholarships for the highest achieving pupils; in return they and their families will be asked to give something back to Shimoni Forest, planting trees, joining patrols or spreading the message amongst their community. £100 will enable one child to access secondary education for a year and give the next generation of Kenya's conservationists the opportunities they deserve.
We have been working with Friends of Shimoni Forest to get eco-tourism on the agenda with guided forest walks to see the beautiful Angolan black and white colobus in one their few remaining natural habitats in Kenya. Now featured in the Lonely Planet, we are eager to raise £500 to develop their tour with tourist-friendly trails and boardwalks, information signs and a centre where they could provide lunch for a day long adventure through Shimoni's coral rag forest to view unique wildlife on a 'Shimoni safari'.
Every little you donate really will help protect the forest, with conservation by and for the local community. The Angolan black and white colobus has already been exterminated from habitats north of Mombasa - we simply can't afford to lose them from Shimoni!