Segera - August 2011

Aug 30, 2011 Segera Retreat
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Beating Extinction
Patas monkeys and Grevy's zebra are amongst the species living on Segera that are on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Their populations are dwindling across their natural habitats and they are fast approaching extinction. In celebration of conservation and monitoring efforts on Segera, this year three young ones from both species have been spotted, significantly boosting numbers on Segera and globally.

According to the IUCN Red List, the Grevy's zebra population in Kenya declined from an estimated 4 276 in 1988 to 1 468 - 2 135 in 2006. In 2007, the population estimate of 1 838 - 2 319 indicates that either more individuals were being accurately observed or that the population is stabilising and increasing. The trend from 1988 to 2006 is a decline of 50 to 66%. The data for 2007 indicates an increase in the population in Kenya.

For patas monkeys, the IUCN Red List says the optimum density of the patas monkey is estimated to be approximately 1.5 animals per square kilometre. Studies have recorded 110 patas in a 311 200ha area. In Kenya, the geographic range has declined from approximately 88 800 square kilometres in 1995 to roughly 48 200 square kilometres, and the gaps among populations has increased. The current geographic range is approximately 54% of the known historic (pre-1995) range.

Current estimates for Segera indicate that approximately 50 patas monkeys, in three distinct groups, include Segera as an important part of their range. Segera represents a vital refuge for some of the remaining patas and is also a vital link in the corridor that enables patas to move freely around Laikipia. Once the accuracy of population trends is confirmed, plans for a number of infrastructural developments, such as high wire fencing, which will strengthen conservation management, will commence.

Citizen Science - a winning formula!
Citizen Science is a conceptual approach that governs Segera's interactions with neighbouring communities. It covers a wider spectrum than 'indigenous technical knowledge' - the label which local insight and experience is often assigned. It seeks to bridge the gap between modern scientific advancements and locally available technologies which are often at a mismatch and empowers local communities to take charge of the issues that impact them as opposed to relying on scientific assessments from external experts.

The intrinsic values that local people hold for their environment are a cultural resource which is often ignored, or undermined, by external researchers and consultants whose personal values and training may lead them to believe that local people see species and habitats purely in utilitarian terms.

Theatre and Climate Change - an unlikely marriage.
Theatre has been around since the dawn of humanity; a testimony to its power and on Segera, this power has been demonstrated. As with other regions in Africa, the art of storytelling, also known as oral traditions, has been practised for millennia. The transition from these oral traditions to theatre came quite easily to the communities around Segera, who are now receiving, in a language and form they understand and can relate to, education and information on climate change, a worldwide scourge that has impacted their lives immensely, as well as a range of other environmental and social issues.

Working with Resource Africa UK - a non-profit organisation that works to support rural livelihoods and improved local governance based on sustainable use of natural resources in Africa - Zeitz Foundation staff were trained in basic acting, directing and script-writing skills. Through this training, they have been able to stage plays at community meetings, which have helped to spur discussions on contentious issues in a light-hearted and fun manner. This strategy has had overwhelming success, and has empowered communities who now understand that they are not helpless in the face of a changing world, but can adapt old ways to address new challenges.

Vivienne Westwood visits Segera.
In June 2011, as part of the Ethical Fashion Programme, Segera hosted world renowned fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her entourage. Theirs was not merely a sightseeing trip, but an ethical fashion mission aimed at creating incomes for Segre's neighbours. Vivienne and her team visited the Satubo Women's group, based just outside Segera, who joined the Ethical Fashion Programme earlier in the year. The aim of the programme is to lift communities out of poverty using environmentally sustainable methods.

The Satubo group, made up of 20 women, will now be joining 250 Kenyans who are currently working with Vivienne to incorporate traditional designs into her line of bags and accessories which are sold internationally. Much more than conserving the environment, the Ethical Fashion Programme also serves to address dependence; it is driven by the principle: Charity = dependence, Work = control over your own life. Vivienne's visit will also result in a substantial new order for the group, thus providing further work and income.

This summer, Daniel Gastriend, a post graduate student from Princeton University, has been helping to develop the group's business skills through a number of training sessions. This training is aimed at transforming the group's ventures into a sustainable micro-enterprise that will continue to bear fruit in the years to come.

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