RUNNING TO RESTORE AND CONSERVE!
Versatile Adventures is an initiative aiming at creating awareness on the importance of Conservation through photography. The Initiative is Guided by four main pillars, that is Conservation, Tourism, Culture and Wildlife. This time round, we traveled to Kakamega county, Shinyalu constituency courtesy of an invitation from Kakamega Forest Heritage Foundation. “The Foundation was primarily set up with the objective of complementing the efforts of the Kenya government of restoring and conserving Kakamega Forest, the only Guinea Congolian type rain forest remaining in Kenya today (that continues to be exploited for resources for survival by the communities in the ecosystem) for the larger welfare of the ecosystem through various interventions.” Marathon Brief.
In relation to the foundation’s theme, Running to Restore and Conserve! It also branched to Empowerment programs such as Donation of wheelchairs, donation of sanitary towels to the girl child in conjunction with Mama Ibanda foundation, Mentorship program to the boy child saving him from the drug and alcohol abuse world, conducting medical camps and educating the local community within Kakamega forest on the negative effects of deforestation thus empowering them economically to eradicate the mentality of selling firewood as a source of income.
One of the corporate social responsibility activity carried out during the Kakamega forest marathon was donation of bikes to every girl child in high school. The bicycles were donated by the Turkish Embassy so as to ease access to students who travel for long distances to get to school.
Prior to the Kakamega Forest Marathon, The foundation conducted a tree planting day. 15000 seedlings were donated to the local church, mosque and to the community. Once the community is educated on the importance of planting trees, they will experience an improvement of water quality, natural flows, natural food, medicine, and shelter to the birds. There will be a fade-out of soil erosion, a positive change in the rate of global warming thus a decline of carbon (iv) oxide in the air. Present dignitaries promised to help the Foundation achieve a more than 10% forest cover within the western region.
Early in the morning on 23rd November, 2017 we experienced bull fighting and danced to the beats of the famous Isukuti dance. I interacted with Sir. Valentine Musonga who informed me on his experience of breeding a bull meant to take part in the fight. The bull is mainly fed on Napier grass and hardly do they feed on processed animal feeds. Crossbreeding of the bulls is done to improve quality for instance between a friesian breed and an asian breed. When injured during the fight, the bulls are treated with traditional herbs and in case of death, the bull is tested and if found good for human consumption, the bull is shared to the butcheries in the area, and it can cost as much as Ksh 200,000 if it’s big enough and worth the price.
Bullfighting is considered as a game for both the old and young. Home games are conducted and at the end, the bulls winner is awarded with a good lump sum of money thus promoting co-existence.
Bulls are graded in groups according to experience, and weight too. A bull in category A would hardly fight a bull in category C because it would consider that as a way of lowering its status.
Bull Fighting at Solyo Playground, Shinyalu.
Bicycle Race held at Solyo playgrounds, Shinyalu division and the Kakamega Forest Marathon attracted participants from all over the country and the world thus promoting domestic tourism. The two activities are meant to bring the foundation into focus highlighting their core action which is to conserve. Through the marathon, within the 3 days, Kakamega county and Kakamega Forest Heritage Foundation had an increase in population and wide visibility.
The athletes had to go through an Anti-dopping test later there effort was awarded with trophies and took home a huge sum of money.
Kakamega forest is widely known for the presence of butterfly’s, 400 species of birds, lizards snakes and more. It is the best place to view butterflies in kenya. The forest is not only productive of an amazing biological diversity, the animals, birds are all interconnected and part of supporting the forest’s ecosystem itself by spreading the seeds of the trees and pollinating the flowers.
Kakamega forest is a tourist attraction in the country thus we should visit and experience its ambiance.
Story by: Christine Mwaura