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The Kenya Bird Map project is an exciting new project that is a joint initiative by A Rocha Kenya together with National Museums of Kenya, Tropical Biology Association, NatureKenya and the Animal Demography Unit of the University of Cape Town and managed through the Bird Committee of the East Africa Natural History Society.
The project aims to map all of Kenya’s bird species and describe their status with the help of valued input from Citizen Scientists – volunteer members of the public who are keen to contribute through going birding and submitting their observations to the project.
A species’ distribution is the most fundamental information needed in order to conserve it. Almost 30 years ago bird records were collected across Kenya that resulted in the book, ‘A Bird Atlas of Kenya’ that mapped and described the status of all the 1,065 species of birds then recorded in the country. Since then much has changed in terms of habitats and climatic conditions in Kenya and as a result the distributions and status of many of our birds have also dramatically changed – but we don’t know how or to what extent.
By pooling the effort of many Citizen Scientist birders, Kenya Bird Map will tell this story and in so doing provide a powerful tool for conservation.
Since the first beginnings of A Rocha Kenya in 1998, we were looking for a property in Watamu that would serve as a Field Study Centre & Bird Observatory, a place where we could welcome birders, butterfliers, conservationists, researchers and holiday-makers alike and provide the kind of relaxed and welcoming hospitality that A Rocha worldwide is becoming known for. From those early days we sought to develop excellent relationships with many of Watamu’s local residents and businesses, one of whom was Mrs Barbara Simpson who ran “Mrs Simpson’s Guest House” at Plot 28.
Barbara, at that time in her 80s, was an avid conservationist and a Christian who’s guest house had a far-reaching reputation for being wonderfully laid back with good food and amazing stories and tales of Barbara’s extraordinary life and Colin Jackson (now National Director of ARK) would regularly be found visiting Barbara for her legendary tea times when tea was served with freshly baked cake and to update her on the latest happenings in the forest. It was through this friendship that the option was discussed of A Rocha Kenya taking on the Guest House as a functioning Field Study Centre and Bird Observatory with Barbara as part of the team, something that Barbara was keen to follow through with. Sadly on 31st March 2002, the day before A Rocha Kenya was due to take over the property as its new Field Study Centre and Bird Observatory, Barbara passed away. In line with her wishes, A Rocha Kenya, went ahead
with the plan to purchase and develop the former guest house into a fully functioning environmental field study centre which we called “Mwamba” (meaning “A Rocha” in Kiswahili,the most widely spoken East African language).
Since its opening, Mwamba has become a central part of A Rocha Kenya’s work and provides the hub for all of its activities as well as fulfilling the vision to provide a relaxed and friendly accommodation for visitors of a wide diversity of backgrounds and interests – come and visit us and experience it for yourself!