Conserving endemic endangered birds in Mau Narok/ Molo grasslands IBA: using alternative community-based conservation friendly approaches

Geoffrey Mwangi Wambugu

Mau Narok/Molo Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA) in Kenya, is renowned for holding a significant population of the Sharpe’s Longclaw (Macronyx sharpei) and Aberdare Cisticola (Cisticola aberdare), both endangered birds endemic to Kenya. It also forms part of the range of Jackson’s Widowbird, another species of conservation concern. Apart from birds, there are also other distinctive and little-studied unique biodiversity. Human settlement into the area started in the 1960s, and now the area is densely settled by communities from different ethnic backgrounds. Most of these communities practice agriculture, both small scale and large scale. The area is one of the most volatile in Kenya as it experiences tribal clashes frequently especially prior to general elections which occur every five years. This leads to displacement of people at varying degrees, and consequently, native vegetation regenerates. Generally, natural grasslands now remain along river valleys, with occassional, highly degraded patches occuring on private lands. This study explored the financial implications of retaining grasslands structure within the standards that are suitable for survival of the endangered birds and other unique biodiversity of Mau Narok/Molo Grasslands.