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Top Things To Do & See In Democratic Republic Of Congo

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Planning a safari in Congo? When it comes to safaris to Africa, most visitors think of South Africa but a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rewards travel endeavors with lifetime experiences. DR Congo straddles within western central side of Africa and bordered by many countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, Zambia, Sudan, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Burundi and others. It lies suitably along the equator with two thirds of it lying below equator and the southern side of the equator is characterized by wet season that lasts from October to May and the northern part from April to November. The following are some of the incredible things for you to do and see in Congo.

Mountain gorillas

Besides, Rwanda and Uganda, the DRC also featured as one of the best areas where you can catch a glimpse at the rare mountain gorillas while in their natural habitat. To see these fascinating creatures, you can pay a visit to the Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  This forested protected area was established in 1925 by King Albert 1 of Belgium making it the first national park in Africa largely to off refuge to mountain gorillas. To track these critically endangered apes in DRC, you need $400 for you to secure a permit and you can book one through a ground tour operator or through park authority.

Waterfalls

Besides wildlife, DRC also boasts of its most picturesque waterfalls and they include among others the Livingstone waterfalls-that comes with a succession of large rapids and cataracts on the lower course of the Congo River in western Equatorial Africa, downstream from Malebo Pool and it was named after explorer David Livingstone. The other stunning one is Boyoma falls that were formerly called the Stanley falls. It is composed of 7 cataracts each with not more than 5 meters high, expanding over 100 kilometers via a curve of the Lualaba River between River port town. Also, the 1000 meters portage railway bypasses a series of rapids linking Kisangani and Ubundu.

The Lola ya Bonobo

If you are interested in seeing the rare bonobos then the Lola ya Bonobo is the only sanctuary in the world for you to pay a visit. It is located south of the suburb of Kimwenza at the Petites Chutes de la Lukaya, Kinshasa in the DRC and founded in 1994 by Claudine Andre and it is a home to 60 orphaned bonobos.

Magnificent mountains

DR Congo features a number of mountains but exploring its scenic Nyiragongo, Mikeno and Nyamuragira Volcanoes is remarkably the most breathtaking and thrilling experience. Nyamuragira on the other hand is one of the most active volcanoes in Africa and lies within Nord Kivu approximately 25 kilometers from Lake Kivu. Mount Nyiragongo and Mikeno equally are found within Virunga National Park.  Nyiragongo features permanent Lava Lake which is the largest in the world and most powerful.

Lake Kivu

This lake is one of the great lakes and most scenic water bodies in Africa.  It is the 10th largest inland island in the world-Idjwi island which is situated within this water Lake. There is also tshegera that is found within the border area of Virunga National Park. This lake currently has about 55 billion cubic meters of dissolved methane gas at a depth of about 300 meters. It is a home to various fish species like Clarias, Barbus, Haplochromis, Nile Tilapia, Tanganyika sardine, Limnothrissa miodon a mention but a few.

Caves

Cave exploration is one amazing experience one needs not to miss out while on safari in the DR Congo. You can visit the Dimba Cave that refuges the oldest remnants of human activity in Bas Lower Congo. It was inhabited in the 18000 BC or even earlier. There are also arte facts that date 2nd to 1st C. BC and this mark the shift from Stone Age to Iron Age. Matupi cave-Orientale, Mount Hoyo-this is significant archaeological monument which lies within Orientale, Mount Hoyo in Ituri rainforest. It consists of sediments that have recorded a sequence of human settlement that lasted for about 40000 years.

There are also some oldest microlithic tools in the world that were used as arrows and saws. At a time when these tools were made about 12000 years back, this area was savanna grassland. Thysville caves also known as Mbanza Ngungu caves Bas Congo a group of caves in Bas Congo that feature endemic blind fish caecabarbus geertsii boulenger dating from 1921 living in 7 of these caves. The fact that it is one of unexplored areas, perhaps there are a lot more endemic animals that live in here. Kakanda malachite caves straddle within Katanga popular to be lined with highly rare malachite stalactites and also feature rare malachite crystals of about 2 centimeters large.

Conclusively, the DR Congo is undoubtedly a wilderness paradise with variety of rare things that are available for you to explore while you are on safari in Africa. With the above listed things, you won’t be left out choice on which activity or attractions to enjoy in this magical country.

Gorilla Trekking: A Journey to Encounter Gorillas

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This is among the most desired adventurous journeys desired a number of ecotourists today. Meeting the mountain gorillas in the misty forested mountains is a very rewarding wildlife encounter that brings tourists close to some of the closest wild relatives. Mountain gorillas are very rare primate species that today only inhabit the forested jungles of southwestern Uganda (Bwindi Impenetrable National Park) and in the Virunga massif that stretches covers the Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in southwestern Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda and Virunga National Park in eastern Rwanda. These primates adapted to living in the higher slopes of the forested mountains and are covered with thick black fur that helps them withstand the cold environment.

Since they live in the forested mountains, mountain gorillas entirely feed on plant leaves are most times are found seated as they grab all the leaves that are in the reach of their hands. By the end of the day, the gorillas eat several kilograms and a fully-grown silverback (male mountain gorilla) can weigh about 200 kilograms. Male mountain gorillas are usually in charge of a mountain gorilla group that usually comprises of the female, juveniles and young mountain gorillas. These groups usually range from 10 and more and the dominant silverback usually determines their activities of the day.

There are habituated mountain gorilla groups that are open to tourist’s visitation. Each of these gorilla groups is open to only 8 tourists a day who only spend an hour with them. This is a conservation measure that was put in place to ensure the sustainability of mountain gorilla conservation because mountain gorillas are very endangered primate species that were on the verge of extinction but were restored after a series of conservation efforts. Tracking the forested mountains to meet any of the mountain gorilla groups gives tourists a chance to explore the major wildlife species in the forest including a number of birds, vegetation species as well insects most of sighted while on the expedition to get to the mountain gorillas.

Only persons above the age of 15 are allowed to take gorilla safaris and this rule must be adhered to. Tourists who are sick are also not allowed to go tracking as they could easily pass on the diseases to the gorillas. On the morning of this great expedition tourists are first briefed about the major regulations that include always following the guide’s instruction especially while in the forest, not littering in the forest, not imitating the mountain gorilla character/behavior, not getting close or attempting to touch a mountain gorilla, keeping a reasonable distance away from the gorillas and always keeping in the tracking groups to avoid getting lost in the middle of the jungle.

The hike starts very in the morning and takes about 1 to 8 hours to get to the mountain gorillas depending on their movement and the tourists luck. This is so because mountain gorillas are very mobile animals that move from one place to another searching for food and new resting areas and therefore sometimes they are also on the move.

Once you draw close to these apes, the anxiety and curiosity increases and however much you try to, nothing prepares you for the encounter as its very touching, intense but very exciting as one looks in to the dark eyes of the mountain gorillas. Mountain gorillas are peaceful animals if not provoked and they therefore sit back and continue with their daily routine as tourists look on while taking photographs. After the hour with the gorillas, tourists are led back to the national park headquarters where they are given certificates of participation. Spending time with the mountain gorillas in the jungle is very rewarding and its activity worth anyone’s time.

Safaris in East African Parks

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No need to tell stories when the reality is in the open game viewing, the wildebeest migration, dreamy beaches, gorilla & chimpanzee treks are must watch on an East African safari any time of the year to Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda & Uganda. The safaris offer many wild world tour options waiting to be experienced in Tanzania’s Serengeti & Ngorongoro crater is another place where more than 30,000 wildlife animals graze in enclosed grassland, Kenya’s Amboseli, Masai Mara a host ground of the annual Great Migration that occurs as huge herds of wildebeest and zebras follow the fresh grazing in the wake of the annual rains, Uganda& Rwanda the blessed of great views and scenery where chimpanzees and mountain gorillas live free in the forests.

Everyone thinks that Rwanda is only for gorilla trekking but I strongly recommend you to consider it for a awesome wild life safari to East Africa with so much to offer in Akagera national park & Nyungwe forest national park. It’s very exciting to witness the rich wildlife of East Africa on a wildlife tour through East Africa’s greatest parks and reserves, with a visit to the region beaches and islands for leisure activities like sun bathing swimming, walks unlike others. Discover exhilarating East Africa on safaris through renowned national parks and game reserves, including Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, the Masai Mara, Bwindi forest, Volcanoes national park, Kidepo national park Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth & lake Mburo national park

Kidepo, Murchison falls & Queen Elizabeth National a park in Uganda

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa has ten national parks displaying the best of East Africa but only a few fulfill the wildlife travelers dreams of viewing wildlife in the wild among which include Kidepo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls National Park, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Kibale forest and Lake Mburo National park. The park offers thrilling wildlife safaris together with other activities like boat trips on both the Kazinga channel and the Murchison falls, forest hikes, mountain climbing which make the tourist wildlife experience more interesting and wonderful in Africa. For those who love wildlife and birds just end the search because the country has over 1000 bird species is among Africa’s best bird watching destination. Another thing which makes Uganda Wildlife Parks very attractive is that you don’t only view wildlife but you can also engage in different tourist adventures as you discover the countries wildlife in depth.

Rare wildlife Africa encounters are found in Uganda like the wild of Kidepo Valley, Tree climbing lions of Ishasha in Queen, a magical powerful waterfall in Murchison Falls, the highest number of chimpanzees in Africa in Kibaale and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park hosting half of the remaining mountain gorillas in the world. Get the most memorable wildlife encounter by visiting the best Uganda wildlife national parks. Plan well and enjoy every moment of your stay.

Amboseli & Masai Mara game reserve in Kenya

Very few travelers give thanks to the internet which supports all the planning session of a holiday to any destination around the globe but never mind what matters is how does your holiday end? Are your travel dreams fulfilled? Used to wonder why thousand visit Kenya year round especially to Amboseli & Masai Mara but all the answers made make like wildlife animals and even the places where they are found. It only requires a minimum of 5 days to be able to view the great Kenya wildlife in their local environment. You can’t miss to see mountain Kilimanjaro while in Amboseli the land of elephants. Spot the “Big Five” and observe one of nature’s greatest spectacles, the Great Migration which takes place in masai mara every year starting from July-October. Charge your camera and also carry a pare battery in order not to miss out any photography. With accommodation there are plenty of lodges, bush camps and hotels for every budget in both parks. You can also visit other parks like Lake Nakuru, Tsavo East and West, Abadare etc.

Ngorogoro Crater & Serengeti in Tanzania

Find Massive wildlife across the Serengeti and Ngorongoro craters reserve all scattered around the wildness area. Tanzania wildlife tours are operated by different tour operators and some tours are always on fixed programs while others are on daily departure. But much flexibility is enjoyed when you doing a private trip. Participating tours are very good, cheap and ideal for travelers on a very tight budget since you get involved in all the camp activities, cooking bed lying, putting up your tent which is a nice thing I loved doing every day since we had surely enough time for everything. However, you can also take on a tailor made private wildlife tour where all things are catered for apart from eating and sleeping.

Above all Tanzania’s premier national park Serengeti is famous for the spectacular annual migration of around 2 million herbivores across its vast plains. The Serengeti National Park is home to the largest concentration of wildlife in the world covering an impressive 14 763 sq km (5,700 sq miles) in the north-west of Tanzania, extending to south-western Kenya. But all safaris to Serengeti & Ngorongoro crater National Park center on game-viewing in the stunning wilderness area teeming with wildlife. As East Africa has so much to offer and not just the Gorillas, amazing views, conserved wildlife National Parks where you can see the only thousands of wildlife, birds plus the superb lodges, good food and friendly people stable for everyone.

Volcanoes National Park

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The world-renowned Volcanoes National Park in Northern Rwanda is one of the four national parks in the world where one can see the mountain gorillas in the wild. This park, a place Dian Fossey called home offers a wildlife experience that ranks among the best animal viewing experiences in Africa.

This park was established in 1925 to protect the endangered mountain gorillas of the Virunga Mountains that spread across Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo. These great apes were discovered by Captain Robert von Beringe in 1902 who shot two large apes during an expedition to establish the boundaries of German East Africa. This national park was originally part of the Virunga National Park of Congo till 1963 when Rwanda attained its independence from the Belgians who were also ruling Congo. After independence, the park got its official name Volcanoes National Park and this is the Rwandan side that is part of the Virunga Conservation Area.

The park is unrivaled in the diversity of its life forms and a world leader in advanced environmental management techniques and policies. The most famous destination in Rwanda, Volcanoes National Park has become synonymous with mountain gorilla tracking safaris and no visit to the country would be complete without visiting these majestic primates.

Truly of all Rwanda’s national parks, Volcanoes national park is the most visited and the most popular attracting tourists all yaer round looking for gorilla safaris in Africa. The park is home to an impressive number of nearly half of the world’s precious mountain gorillas – some 400 of them. The proximity of the park from Kigali makes Rwanda probably the best place in Africa for gorilla tracking.

Man’s interaction with the environment over many centuries including Diane Fossey is very evident in the volcanoes National Park. Volcanoes National Park is the Rwandan section of the great volcanic massif called the Virunga Mountains that straddles the borders of Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC. The massif covers a huge area of over 8,000km², encompassing six active and three extinct volcanoes. Gorillas, of course, pay no heed to borders and are known to cross between the countries, although most habituated groups are to be found in Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes National Park is Rwanda’s most exciting African safari destination. Steeped in legend and history, the iconic volcanoes National Park in Rwanda is waiting for you to explore its vast landscapes and spectacular African wildlife. Volcanoes National Park also has a historic connection with gorilla conservation. It was the base for the ground-breaking work of primatologist Dian Fossey which started in the late 1960s and is evocatively portrayed in the book and film Gorillas in the Mist. Plan your volcanoes national Park safari trip from our recommended safari tour options, which range from exclusive private safaris to affordable group safaris.

Combining a Gorilla Safari with a Cultural Tour

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It may sound in some way or another difficult to you however practically a gorilla trek and cultural safari visit to Rwanda and Uganda can be a success. I know you might have gone to these two nations either on a business trip or on a visit; however I question in the event that you attempted to investigate these two things without a moment’s delay. Joining these two undertakings is a lifetime experience connected with lower costs than anticipated. It allows a traveler to appreciate a portion of the uncommon encounters in the ever-green wildernesses of Africa.

With just 1000 mountain gorillas left on the planet, Rwanda and Uganda have 95% of these incredible apes and a safari to these two nations ensures one to track them in their regular environments. In Uganda, gorillas are found in Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga National Park while for Rwanda, they are found in Volcanoes National Park. Fortunately enough, around these parks are different cultural settings of people with different norms which depict the genuine way of life of an African man.

Around Bwindi Forest for instance, there is a gathering of individuals known as the Batwa and these have attracted a large portion of foreigners who visit the park specifically to meet these people. A tourist once in a while may go to Bwindi just to track mountain gorillas yet as he/she tries to penetrate through the thick rain forests, he/she encounters with these individuals in the forest trying to assemble natural fruits for eating. Because of the astonishment and amazement, the trekker gets tempted to investigate more about these individuals who are at times alluded to as antiquated individuals. Their way of life is genuinely in reverse however rich with social marvels which draw out the genuine picture of how early men in Africa used to survive.

I know a joined safari that includes both gorilla trekking and cultural visit is somewhat tedious and it takes more days however the experience which accompanies it is worth. It takes you nearer to the gorillas in the rain forests of East Africa furthermore close to the neighborhood individuals with interesting cultural settings.

When to go on a gorilla Safari and Cultural tours to Rwanda and Uganda

The best time to visit these two East African nations for this experience is amid the dry seasons. Since these nations share the area and are both close to the equator, they have the same climatic conditions. Both have two dry seasons in a year, mid –December to February and June to September. This is the best period to visit essentially in light of the fact that it’s the point at which the national parks have dry landscapes which makes the movement easy. Amid this time, it is not difficult to discover a gorilla family in the rain forest as they attempt to search for sustenance and water. In favor of cultural tours, dry season is perfect since neighborhood individuals can without much of a stretch be found as you travel through the different villages. During the dry season, people don’t spend much time in the gardens and therefore they are easily found on a cultural visit. It is amid the rainy season when they spend just about the entire day in the gardens making it hard to find them.

Yellow Baboon

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The yellow baboon is a baboon in the family of old World monkeys. The species epithet literally means “dog-head” in Greek, due to the shape of its muzzle and head. It has a slim body with long arms and legs and a yellowish-brown hair. It resembles the Chacma baboon, but is smaller and its muzzle is not as elongated. The hairless face is black, framed with white sideburns. Males can grow to about 84 cm, females to about 60 cm. It has a long tail which grows to be nearly as long as the body. Their life spans are roughly 20–30 years.

The yellow baboon inhabits savannas and light forests in the eastern Africa, from Kenya and Tanzania to Zimbabwe and Botswana. It is diurnal, terrestrial, and lives in complex, mixed-gender social groups of eight to 200 individuals per troop. It is omnivorous with a preference for fruits, but it also eats other plant parts, as well as insects. Baboons are highly opportunistic eaters and will eat almost any food they come across.

Yellow baboons use at least 10 different vocalizations to communicate. When traveling as a group, males will lead, females and the young stay safe in the middle, and less-dominant males bring up the rear. A baboon group’s hierarchy is such a serious matter, some subspecies have developed interesting behaviors intended to avoid confrontation and retaliation. For example, males have frequently been documented using infants as a kind of “passport” for safe approach toward another male. One male will pick up the infant and hold it up as it nears the other male. This action often calms the approached male and allows the former male to approach safely.

Baboons are important in their natural environment, not only serving as food for larger predators, but also aiding in seed dispersal due to their messy foraging habits. They are also efficient predators of smaller animals and their young, keeping some animals’ populations in check.

Baboons have been able to fill a tremendous number of different ecological niches, including places considered adverse to other animals, such as regions taken over by human settlement. Thus, they are one of the most successful African primates and are not listed as threatened or endangered. However, the same behavioral adaptations that make them so successful also cause them to be considered pests by humans in many areas. Raids on farmers’ crops and other such intrusions into human settlements have made baboons subject to organized exterminations projects. It is important to remember however, that habitat loss is the driving force behind baboons’ migration toward areas of human settlement.

Journeys to See Mountain Gorillas in Africa

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Taking journeys to Africa to view the wildlife there is very exciting and rewarding but going there to view the great mountain gorillas is another very amazing experience. With few of them remaining on the planet, mountain gorillas are very interesting mammals that are worth viewing while in their natural habitats. There are only three countries in Africa and the world at large where mountain gorillas can be viewed in their natural habitats, which include Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Mountain gorillas are very endangered wild animals whose numbers had been greatly reduced by poaching while others were killed during civil wars as some of the mountain gorilla national parks had become fighting grounds. After a series of conservation programs especially in Rwanda and Uganda, the mountain gorilla population started increasing steadily and today their total population is estimated at 900, which is also expected to increase in time.

These incredible animals attract a number of tourists who travel from different parts of the world to come and go for mountain gorilla safaris in Rwanda, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has a half of the mountain gorilla population in the Virunga area with a total of 10 habituated mountain gorilla families, Uganda has half of the total mountain gorillas in the world (over 450) in the mountain gorilla national parks of Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park with a total of 12 habituated mountain gorilla families 11 in Bwindi and 1 in Mgahinga. Democratic Republic of Congo has the least mountain gorilla population with only 6 habituated mountain gorilla families.

How Mountain Gorilla Tracking Is Like

This usually start very early in the morning as guides assemble at the national park headquarters for briefing and allocation to the mountain gorilla family they will be tracking as well as to the guides who will be leading them.

After the tourists are briefed, the guides direct them to the forests as they track the mountain gorillas. A hike through the forest gives tourists an opportunity to view other wildlife species in the forest hence providing a double experience. The hike through the forest depends on the movement of the mountain gorillas and can range from an hour to 5 hours or more.

Once the tourists get to the mountain gorillas, they are given an hour to view the gorillas as they take photographs and learn more about the life in the jungle. Once the hour elapses the tourists are guided back to the national park headquarters from where they are given certificates of participation. A one on one encounter with the mountain gorillas is usually the anticipated moment and its very rewarding and worth hiking through the thick forests. Mountain gorillas are usually on the move as they look for fresh foods and for new places for building their nests for shelter. Its therefore very likely to bump into a mountain gorilla family on the move while others can be seen relaxing or feeding on the green leaves that are in reach of their hands.

Mountain gorillas live in families of close relatives that are usually protected by the dominant silverbacks that usually protect the female and young mountain gorillas in case of any intrusion.

All the tourists interested in mountain gorilla safaris in Africa should endeavor to acquire their mountain gorilla tracking permits. Permits for Uganda are sold at $600 in the high tourist season and $400 in the low tourist season. Permits in Rwanda are sold at $750 while those for Democratic Republic of Congo are sold at $500. All the three countries offer exclusive mountain gorilla encounters that are truly remarkable and life changing.

Explore Haller Park of Mombasa

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Haller Park is a nature park in Bamburi, Mombasa, on the Kenyan Coast. It is the transformation of a quarry wasteland into an ecological paradise. Haller Park holds a variety of plant and animal species which serve as a recreation hot spot to tourists and locals.

Up to March 2007 it held the famous attraction of Owen and Mzee – the friendship of a hippopotamus and a tortoise.

History of the rehabilitation project

Effect of cement production
In 1952, Cementia Holding searched for a site at the East African Coast to build a cement factory. Dr. Felix Mandl found an ideal location 12 km north of Mombasa. Over the years cement production grew to 1.2 million tons per 25 million tons.

The area soon became inhospitable arid wasteland with brackish water. The Bamburi Cement company decided to rehabilitate the quarries which seemed to be an inconceivable task. No plants had been able to establish themselves in the quarries.

In 1959, Dr. Rene Haller was hired as manager of the garden department and given the task to beautify the area. In the 1970s Rene embarked on the reforestation project.

Task
The vital task was to find pioneer plants which could survive the limestone desert. The plants had to survive the fierce tropical sun. After planting 26 plants only 3 of them survived: The damas, coconut palm, and the casuarina.

Casuarina
The casuarina was used initially to colonise the barren quarry floor. The casuarina is adapted to grow under severe conditions. Its branchlets look like pine needles and have a strong outer surface skin which protects the tree against loss of water.

The casuarina could tolerate salty water which seemed perfect for the environment. However, due to the causarina’s high tannin content its needles are too tough and bitter to be broken down by bacteria into humus for other plants to grow in.

Introduction of the Millipedes
Dr Rene Haller observed a red legged millipede (Mombasa trains) feeding on dry casuarina needles and introduced hundreds of millipedes into the quarry forest.

The droppings of the millipede while feeding on the Casuarina needles made it easier for bacteria to break down resulting in a rich layer of humus allowing other plant species to grow.

After 5 years the Casuarina began self seeding and colonising the surrounding area. After 10 years the casuarina trees reached a height of 30 m. After 20 years some of the trees had a trunk circumference of 2.4 meters and the humus layer was 10 cm deep.

Many of the trees began to collapse after 20 years. However they had accomplished their task and created a friendly environment conducive to new plants. The tree trunks were used for building timber and firewood.

Effect on vegetation
More plants distributed by wind and animal established themselves in the quarry. The next tree species were carefully selected. The quarry slowly developed into a sanctuary for endangered species of plants.

Over the years, over 180 species of indigenous trees and bushes have been planted. Modes of propagation of plants however vary, all in the aim of ensuring succession. Vervet monkeys, insects and particular bird species have participated actively in succession within the ecosystem.

They feed on fruits of the ficus sp. trees, whose seeds must travel through an alimentary canal to completely break dormancy. If this step does not take effect, the seeds have to be boiled to achieve the same.

When the three above-mentioned animals excrete, seeds are dispersed in their feces and those that hit fertile ground germinate after some time. This has helped achieve growth in parts of the forest that are not easily accessible by humans.

Animals
Dr. Rene Haller believed animals should play an equally important role in the forest ecosystem as plants. The introduction of the millipedes into the casuarina forest triggered a chain reaction of colonisation by plants and animals.

The creation of new habitats attracted a number of birds, insects and mammals. Some larger mammals were introduced while others moved in.

The mammals had a huge impact on the environment. For example, the bush pig which feed on roots, maggots, and insects helped to aerate the trees root system. The female giraffes feed on leaves and dispersed plants seeds while their feces acted as fertiliser.

The dung beetles also played an important role by helping bring the manure underground where it is broken down by micro-organisms creating further plant life.

Elands
The Elands were chosen for domestication at Haller Park because of its usefulness. The Eland produces milk which is nutritious and has antibiotic properties which allows the milk stay fresh for months. Elands are also resistant to most livestock diseases and tame easily.

Oryx
Rene Haller also introduced Oryx to supplement the Eland group. The Oryx adapt to cope with poor grazing. They feed on dry, nutrient poor grasses. They have a great capacity to digest fibres. During droughts and desert conditions, the Oryx can survive. They are independent of permanent water sources. The Oryx were the perfect candidates for the condition of the park.

Aquaculture
Water was an essential resource for the development of the plant life in the quarry. Water played an important role in the economical and ecological development of the project. The aquaculture system at Haller Park is a commercial viable unit. The unit consists of the fish farm, crocodile area, and the biological water treatment area (Nile cabbage ponds and rice paddy fields). The Nile cabbage is a special plant which removes excess nutrients and impurities form the water body.

Fish Farm
The fish farm is a crucial part of Haller Park. In 1971, The fish farming project started alongside the reforestation project. Rene Haller created a fish tank system. The purpose of the tank system was to give the fish a chance to swim in a constant current. A Tilapia farm was also created in 1980 because of the success of the fish tanks. It produced 30–35 tons per year.

Watamu Turtle Watch

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Watamu Tortoise

The aim of the programme is to protect a small but important nesting population of sea turtles in the Watamu/Malindi Marine Parks and Reserves.

Through a nest protection program, which works in co-operation with local people & Kenya Wildlife Service to protect all nests laid on Watamu and Malindi beaches, local participation is encouraged with a financial incentive scheme.

Daily patrols check for nesting turtles, and tracks in the sand that indicate new nests. Nesting turtles that are encountered are tagged and biometric data collected. Schedules are continuously organised to protect and monitor incubating and hatching nests.

Nests are allowed to incubate in situ unless they have been laid in an area threatened by sea wash, in which case they are carefully relocated to a safe area. Research is also carried out on hatching success and DNA material is collected from the nesting population.

BY CATCH RELEASE PROGRAMME

In 2011 Watamu Turtle Watch had discovered and released 1,365 turtles after being caught in fishing nets. We tagged 544 of these turtles; the remaining turtles were either re-captures, admitted to rehab or were too young to be tagged.

REHABILIATION CENTRE

35 patients were treated in rehab in 2011; 28 green turtles, 6 hawksbill turtles and one Olive Ridley.  31% were admitted due to an infection, 17% due to damage from fishing hooks, 14% were due to poaching , 11% due to blockage from plastic, the remaining 27% was a combination of other factors.

The majority of these turtles were accidently caught by fishermen in Midas Creek – a reminder to everyone to enforce protection of our Creek to protect the turtles’ habitat.

EDUCATION PROGRAMME

Watamu Turtle Watch’s education programme reached over 2,064 students and 156 teachers in 2011. It covered information on three topics: turtles, corals and mangroves. It has worked with 26 local schools but plan to expand to 30 in 2012 due to the keen interest in the area.

Watamu Turtle Watch seen a great change of attitude towards conservation from many of the students. One child says that her father used to poach turtle meat but now he calls Local Ocean Trust if he catches a turtle in his net.

The Marine Scout programme has gone from strength to strength in 2011. Watamu Turtle Watch currently has 7 marine scouts who have all been awarded their certificate in “Basics in turtle welfare and care”.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

Watamu Turtle Watch’s community programmes continue to “quietly make a difference”.  Watamu Turtle Watch continues to support alternative income generating programmes to reduce the strain on Kenya’s marine resources.  Beach clean-ups and “Love your local ocean” campaigns continue in every corner of Watamu and around.

THREATS

Sadly the ring netters (a type of fishing method) have continued to threaten the sustainability of our marine life; Watamu Turtle Watch hope systems are put into place for 2012 to prevent the damage witnessed in 2011.  Destruction has been seen on our beaches with an increase in riparian developments and beach interference threatening our precious turtle nesting sites.

Entebbe Botanical Gardens

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Entebbe Botanic Gardens, the oldest national Botanic Garden in Uganda is strategically located at the ‘entrance’ into this country, that is the Entebbe International Airport. Three minutes drive form the airport and you are already in a welcome environment that will take away all your jetlag and initiate you into Uganda’s well known hospitality.

On your way back, the extra time before you catch your flight can best be spent in the gardens and you can be sure of carrying with you that everlasting impression which you will share with your pals back home.

And just 34km away from Kampala, the Botanic Gardens is the place for the city dweller where you can spend your weekend away from the routine noises and hectic daily chores of the city. At the end of the day, you will be feeling better than your anticipation in additional to learning about how you can make the living environment better for yourself and the generation to come.

What makes Entebbe Botanic Gardens so pleasantly special?

  • Entebbe Botanic Gardens has a total land area of 40 hectares.
  • 1.5 km along lake Victoria shore line; all of which present a breathtaking scenery.
  • A walk along the beach into the haunting forest.
  • A rock garden in the Entebbe Botanic Gardens.
  • A medicinal garden which sustains a big proportion of the Uganda rural peasant.
  • The Gardens have a collection of 389 species of higher plants.

In addition to offered leisure, the garden also offers opportunities to learn to care for the environment, taking care and conserving useful plants and real life experiences for students of tourism. By this time all you need is a cool shade and cool refreshment both of which are never in short supply.

A Brief History

In the years after its establishment in 1898, the garden was very active in plant introduction from many parts of the world. Crop species of foreign origin such as cocoa, coffee, tea and rubber were introduced and evaluated.

Uganda’s varied agro-climatic conditions offered a good opportunity for these plants to grow and they have become the main cash-crops of the country.

Experiments on economic crops have been taken over by the Agricultural Experimental Stations such as those at Kawanda, Namulonge and Serere, a move which contributed to the neglect suffered by the Entebbe Botanic Gardens from the scientific community.

The garden has until recently served simply as an area for public recreation and enjoyment, with no attempt made to develop its considerable potential as a systematic collection of plants, and as a centre for research and education.

This education is urgently needed for people from all walks of life, from policy makers to the botanic garden staff. The garden has not been equipped with areas for children or the disabled.

Staff

The staff includes:

a)  The curator
b)  One assistant curator
c)  One officer responsible for the cut-flower garden and potted plants
d)  One officer for plant propagation
e)  One officer for the medicinal plant garden
f)   One clerical officer
g)  One part-time consultant

Current Activities

Since October 1990, efforts are being directed towards the following objectives:

  • Garden maintenance and improvement, which involves construction of three pit-latrines and ten concrete garden chairs.
  • Nursery work, which involves germination of seeds of timber and fruit trees, ornamental trees and some grasses; vegetative propagation of shrubs, herbaceous plants and some grasses.
  • Establishment of a medicinal plant garden
  • Establishment of a cut-flower and indoor garden.
  • Compost-making to encourage organic gardening.
  • It is unfortunate that garden design work is not possible because the garden is unfenced, making it vulnerable to grazing cattle.

Future Objectives

  • The integration of conservation activities with agricultural and genetic resources development.
  • The educational and recreational potential of the gardens will be realized through the development of facilities and services that will benefit both residents and tourists alike.
  • Public involvement in the work of the botanic garden and extension into the community will be a priority.
  • The screening of native plants for utility and possible economic production.
  • A scheme to establish collaboration with relevant institutions in the development and production of native wild plant species of economic and educational value e.g. medicinal plants, wild fruits, fibres, spices, fuel-wood and forage crops.
  • Establishment of ethnobotanical gardens, if possible in each district.

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