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Kileva Newsletter #8


CONTENTS

 

Cowpea Threshing
Wheelbarrow & Spades Gift
Cleaning School Compound
Sagalla Cluster Ball Games
World Environment Day
Lost Maize Harvest
Testing honey badger deterrent methods


Cowpea Threshing

Report by
Mdm Beata in charge of School Lunch Feeding Programme

Below are ‘photos of Kileva Eastfield pupils threshing cowpeas harvested from the school farm. The cowpeas will be cooked for lunch in the school feeding programme.

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Wheelbarrow & Spades Gift

Report by
George Mwaviswa-Farm club Patron

Farm club members receiving a wheelbarrow and two spades from the Elephants and Bees Team of the Save the Elephants organisation:

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Cleaning School Compound

Report by

Mdm Priscillah Nguku Music and dance patron and Teacher on duty

Pictures of routine cleaning of the school compound:

Pupil’s are eager to make their school more child-friendly by using a wheelbarrow and spades to remove stones, cowpeas husks, papers, bottles and sharp objects to the disposal pits, thus making the compound safe for pupils.

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Sagalla Cluster Ball Games

Report #1 by
Games Master, George Mwaviswa

Today we were privileged to host the Sagalla Cluster Ball Games competition. Over 15 schools took part in four disciplines namely : Football,Volleyball, Handball and Netball for both boys and girls.

Of the 10 participants from our school, 5 managed to proceed for Divisional Ballgames which will take place on 6/6/2018 at Upper Sagalla.

Report #2 by
Mdm Priscillah Nguku & Mdm Beata in charge of the School Lunch Feeding Programme.

Spectators from Sagalla zone schools today converged at the Kileva Eastfield for ball games.

Below you can see Kileva ball games players being served with a special meal to motivate them for their hard work – you see hard work does pay!

It was a great fun day indeed for the pupils at Kileva Eastfield primary school. Such a lovely way to end May month.

Below is the headteacher Mr Mwalwala addressing the crowd, giving a vote of thanks:

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World Environment Day

Report by
Md Priscillah

Today (5/6/2018) was World Environment Day. Pupils and teachers participated in making the environment clean and safe to mark this important day in Eastfield Primary school.

The learners were given gloves to protect them from germs, bottles and sharp objects.

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Lost Maize Harvest

Report by
Mdm Beata in charge of School Feeding Programme

The crops in Kileva Eastfield Primary School have dried up due to shortage of rains. They have not harvested maize. This situation has also been experienced in the villages in Mwakoma. Parents also have not harvested maize crop.

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Testing honey badger deterrent methods

Report by
International Master’s student Abi Johnson

During my time as an intern with the Elephants and Bee Project (EBP) in 2016, I became aware of the fact that honey badger predation of hives often makes the beehive fences less effective. EBP is and has been using metal sheeting on the hive posts to prevent honey badger attacks on hives with some success.

Beehives protected by metal sheeting as a deterrent

Yet, often the honey badger was still able to gain access to the hive. Once on top of the hive honey badgers use claws, teeth and sheer force of will to break through the lid of the hive. This often causes the bees to abscond, leaving the farms vulnerable to elephant crop raiding once again.

Honey badger damage to the lid of a beehive

Therefore, I decided to research economical and non-lethal honey badger deterrents as my Master’s degree thesis project. I am testing how the honey badgers of Sagalla Hill react to motion-activated lights as well as hive protection in the form of wire cages for the hives and cones for the posts. I have added these deterrents, one method per hive, to 18 hives and monitor them using camera traps.

Wire-cage-deterrent-being-installed-during-night-work

Cone-deterrent-being-installed-during-night-work-copy

Camera trap photo featuring an elephant and the cone deterrents

I have been officially collecting data and camera trap footage for just over two months now, during which time my cameras have caught 4 honey badger visitations! Often when I go out into the field I just switch the SD cards and have to wait till I get back to camp to check the footage. Who knew someone’s heart could beat so fast while opening a computer file!? Generally, I get a lot of videos of hares and mongooses, which was cute at first. Yet, those videos lose their appeal when you get a taste of real data producing videos.

I was in the office after dinner sorting through footage when I came across my first honey badger video. I lost my mind a little bit, cheering the little bugger on from my desk. My yells of “climb, climb, climb” attracted my fellow Elephants and Bees team members, by which time I was out of the office dancing around with my computer. Crowded around my computer we all exclaimed in disbelief when the video cut short just as the honey badger reached the top of the post.

Camera trap showing a honey badger climbing a post to access the beehive

Once I calmed down, I saw that the next video was of the hive violently swinging as the badger walked away, meaning the honey badger must have made contact with the hive. Unfortunately, this behavior was not caught on video because of a delay between videos (this setting has since been changed). If the honey badger was able to make contact with the hive via the post, then why didn’t the hive have any damage? I suspect the wire cage deterrent must have done its job and prevented a honey badger raid on the hive. FIRST WIN OF THE PROJECT!

The next video footage of a honey badger came after a farmer, Wabongo, called to say he suspected a honey badger visited his hive. The lid was slightly dislodged and the bees had left. This hive was protected by one of the first cage prototypes, which is shorter than the current design so protects less of the hive. The honey badger spent 50 minutes attempting to gain access to the hive, whereas it only spent two minutes at the previously mentioned hive that had the full cage on it. Perhaps, the honey badger perceived the hive to be more vulnerable, motivating it to continue the raid. This extended raid duration is likely the reason the bees deserted the hive, however, it was a weak/new bee colony. I had to assure Wabongo that although the bees absconded, a stronger colony wouldn’t have left. With some grumbled Swahili, he expressed that he was willing to try the newer cage model on his next hive. I am grateful for the footage and that Wabongo didn’t give up on the project.

Honey badger visiting Hive 4 (light deterrent)

My most recent footage came from hives protected by motion-activated lights! Two hives at the same farm were visited twenty-five minutes apart. Although I can’t claim it’s the same individual scientifically, I bet it is… And if you assume it is the same individual, the honey badger spent much less time looking at the deterrent at the second hive!

Honey badger visiting Hive 4 (light deterrent)

Time diagram of Hive 4 (light deterrent) video: honey badger spent more time looking (orange) at the hive and deterrent

 

Honey badger visiting Hive 12 (light deterrent)

 

Time-diagram-of-Hive-12-light-deterrent-video-less-time-spent-looking-orange

Although I am surprised I got these four visitations and the corresponding videos, I am a bit anxious and greedy to get more! I still have not captured any honey badgers visiting the hives protected by cones. So, here’s to hoping for more honey badgers and that the deterrents continue to work!

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Kileva News Letter #2


CONTENTS

 

New Styles of Agriculture in Mwakoma
Farm club members participating in planting trees to conserve the environment
Learning more about Permaculture Farming
Strike impacting Margaret’s University Course


New Styles of Agriculture in Mwakoma

Report by
Madam Aggy

 

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Farm club members participating in planting trees to conserve the environment.

Report by
Madam Kelly, First Aid Teacher
Mr George, Wildlife Club Patron.

We have finally started the wildlife club in our school. Currently there is ongoing registration whereby each student is to become a member and with the help of Dr Lucy’s Save the Elephants Team who agreed to sponsor the school for a trip, then each child is to pay 50 Kenyan Shillings.

Until now we were targeting the whole school in order for them to get the park cards, but only approximately 20 have paid so far. So in conjunction to this we were requesting if maybe the foundation could In some way help for the most needy students.

Also today we requested them to come with a seedling each in order for them to plant each a tree and take Care of them daily with the help of the Wildlife Club. To this we shall have a planting session tomorrow.

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Learning More about Permaculture Farming

Report taken from a post made to the Elephants and Bees blogsite on December 24, 2017
by

Kenyan Student, Kennedy Lemaiyan

Myself at the permaculture course – getting my hands dirty!

How about growing food in an organic manner, caring for the environment, sustainably feeding school kids, and equipping local farmers to put more food on their tables?

Kileva Eastfield Primary School permaculture garden was initiated by the Kileva Foundation and the Elephants and Bees Project in late 2015. The farm was initially a research field testing the potential growth of some of the non-palatable crops to elephants.

Class work: coming up with designs and suggestions on crops to grow at Brackenhurst school garden.

Later on, after the realization of its potential in food production, the project extended the small farm into growing vegetables, fruits, and even employing two community members (Paul and Jacinta) to work in the farm. The farm has occasionally fed the school kids, especially the young ones in the Kileva kindergarten and at times the entire school. There was a need to come up with plans to feed more mouths more frequently. This required gaining more skills and knowledge into the world of farming.

Mark Nicholson holding Desmodium incanum, a nitrogen fixing plant in the forest.

To gain these skills, The Elephants and Bees Project enabled me to attend a practical permaculture workshop hosted by Barefoot Soulutions at Bruckenhurst hotel in Limuru. The workshop began on 25th November to 1st December 2017. We were a group of fifteen trainees and three instructors (Sven, Mike and Tichafa the permaculture guru from Zimbabwe) – our first class begun where we were divided in to groups of two and told to introduce yourself to your partner and your partner introduces you to the class.

The workshop entailed a lot of lessons and practicals such as: companion cropping, dry land farming, ecological processes, soil regeneration, soil improvement through (compost making, mulching, double digging) erosion control, species selection, Integrated pest management(IPM), home garden designs, natural forest & the conservation zone, various presentations from trainees on before/after maps, plans of action and much more.

Our group ‘tea’ planting spinach, lettuce, beetroot, kale, onions on our mandela design.

We made field trips to various organizations and farms around. We visited ‘care of creation Kenya’ which is a Christian faith based organization in Limuru empowering farmers to grow crops in Gods perspective and highly discourages violent farming. The organization uses two set-ups (Farming Gods Way FGW and Conventional Farming CF). FGW involves mulching the field which comes with other benefits while CF involves normal farming without mulch.

Five different Crops are grown in plots size of 9m by 4.5m for the experiments, FGW plots produce significantly greater yields compared to conventional traditional plots. All the plots are given equal treatments; the same planting date, crop variety, spacing, planting depth, receiving equal amount of external input and rainfall yet all Gods way plots produce higher yield than conventional farming. From previous harvest onion yield from FGW plot was 5 times more than conventional plots onions, maize 3 times more and potatoes 4 times more. When mulching there’s more life in soil, minimal disturbance of soil because mulch prevents weeds, retains water, prevents erosion and holds the soil structure. Crag explained the disadvantages of leaving the ground bare; violent farming and clearing of vegetation cover for inappropriate farming with poor yield. Giving an example of plastic that is dropped at the start of the Tana river and finds its way in to the ocean in 3 days, compared to when it took 3 weeks in previous years, due to dense vegetation cover.

A comparison between 2 on-site plots. Both planted on the same day and given equal treatments in all aspects.

Further experiments were done on the two FGW plots which are covered with mulch and CF plots which are bare and exposed. The first experiment was on water retention; it involved scooping the same amount of soil from both plots in a trough container and pouring in water. The CF soil sample lost water after pouring in one and a half cups of water causing run-off whilST FGW PLOTS retained water up to four and a half times better than CF. Experiments on soil structure and soil erosion were also done and Gods way soil structure was maintained while convention broke up so easily. When examining soil erosion through run-off water samples, the runoff from Gods way soils remained clean while runoff from conventional way soils was very dirty (washed away).

Making rectangular design – where we planted vegetables and learnt about companion cropping & pest control

We also visited Mlango farm which is a privately owned farm, a living paradise full of ripe fruits and vegetables of every kind. It is a living Garden of Eden where people go learn, rest and enjoy the peaceful rural environment under the warm African atmosphere.

Mango farm, a small section planted with lettuce, spinach and use of onion as a boundary crop and keeping away pest.

After various lessons in class and trips it was time to get our hands dirty by going to the field for practicals. We worked in two different groups, tea and coffee, which are both crops that do well in highland areas and are both the pillars of Kenyan agriculture. In our first practical we came up with a mandala permaculture design at Bruckenhurst farm and planted different vegetable crops, cover crops, nitrogen fixing crops and fruits. Our second practical was at Mikes farm, one of our instructors, where we learned about different permaculture designs; mandala, kidney shape, and rectangular beds. We planted lettuce, spinach, onions, coffee plants and various other crops using compost and other organic substances like absorber, enhancer and much more.

Sample water collected after experiments from both plots (FGW & CF).

Bruckenhurst school farm was our last practical session where we came up with a small school garden for the school children. This involved coming up with a farm in-cooperating the five senses (smell, touch, sound, taste and mandala sight) for smell we planted herbs; citronella, marigold, lemon and lavender. Touch; aloe, vetiver grass, touch me not, sage and lambs ear. Taste involved edible crops bananas, passion fruit, cassava and sweet potatoes. Mandala sight; coffee and flowers. Sound; bird feeders and bird bath tubs

soil samples of farming god’s way and conventional farming.

Next, we took a tour to Bruckenhurst indigenous forest, which is more than ten years old and a true serving model of a totally ecologically restored forest. Mark Nicholson, the director of plants for life at Bruckenhurst botanical garden, began his work on changing the forest into a totally indigenous forest after a realization of almost empty gaps in the forest, invasive species, loss of indigenous biodiversity and loss of indigenous knowledge. The forest was cleared, invasive species uprooted, exotic species replaced and only indigenous trees were planted including critically endangered species, timber trees, curving trees medicinal trees and much more. Various tree species in the forest include; Croton megalocarpus, Prunus africana, Coddia africana, Wabugia ugadensis and Chrysophyllum ngorungosum. Now the forest is full of life with some wildlife species and birds making a comeback to what was originally their home.

A trip into Bruckenhurst indigenous forest showing various indigenous trees.

Back in Sagalla plans are under way for the school permaculture. First, we will use mulching to conserve moisture, reduce run-off, avoid weeding, and maintain our soil life. We will use various permaculture techniques such as the use of mandalas for vegetables, key holes on sloppy areas to harvest water, worm farming, companion cropping, and pest control. Through these techniques we are hoping our farm will become a perfect model demonstration site to the local community about crops that can survive in the arid climate of sagalla and have economic and nutritional values. We will also use our permaculture garden as a research field to come up with crops that are non-palatable to elephants. Through all of these things that we have learned, we hope to give a chorus to the win-win solution rhythm.

Sven, our instructor, using his forearm to measure space between crops, (distance between crops) for planting different veggies on the farm.

The work shop was very educational, with awesome trips, delicious meals, nice accommodation, good friends and YES!! Permaculture is the way forward for creating food security with the help of fellow gardeners, living systems and appreciation to the environment. The only reason for human wildlife conflict is because of greed. People are greedy doing things violently, chopping trees for land, violent farming, disrupting the soil, fighting against nature instead of working with nature, resulting to low yields and need for more land. The only solution is PERMACULTURE!!! Get your hands dirty!!!

Many thanks to Barefoot Solutions for such a productive, informative and inspiring week learning all things permaculture – we look forward to producing results in our own shamba at Kileva Eastfield School!

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Strike impacting Margaret’s University Course

Report by
Margaret Kiriro

As many of you may already know, Margaret, our Operations Director in Kenya, is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Education course at the Pwani University in Kilifi (click HERE for more info).

However her studes have been somewhat interrupted by disputes between the teachers’ union and the Kenyan Government. Click HERE for an article highlighting the latest situation in this dispute

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