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UNESCO World Heritage Listing Includes Famous Coast Cultural Sites Of Lamu Old Town And The Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests

Coastweek -- Kenya has seven sites inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage listing. Of these four are classified as ‘Cultural’, namely Fort Jesus, Lamu Old Town, Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests and Thimlich Ohinga Archealogical site.

The other three sites, Kenya Lake system in the Great Rift Valley, Lake Turkana National Park and Mount Kenya National Park are categorised as ‘Natural’ sites.

Of these sites the Lake Turkana National Park has been identified as ‘under threat’. At a UNESCO committee meeting held in Bahrain last month the panel opined that Lake Turkana will most likely be placed in the endangered list due the negative and so far unmitigated impacts from the construction of mega-projects in the vicinity; the Gibe III dam in Ethiopia, sugar factories and the Lamu Port South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Project (Lapsset).

Lake Turkana, also known as the Jade Sea, is a conservation hot spot. It is the largest desert lake in the world and most saline in East Africa. It is of immense archaeological importance.

It has fossil deposits and is believed to be the site of mankind’s birth.

It is the source of livelihood for some 300,000 people who live nearby.

Construction of the Gibe dam started in 2015.

Already the water levels are receding and there are fears they may reduce dramatically over the years with disastrous effect on the environment. Of equal concern is the impact of the Lapsset project.

At an estimated cost of Sh. 2.5 trillion it proposes oil pipelines, highways, railway lines, airports and resort cities.

While the UNESCO’s listing of Lake Turkana in the endangered list will no doubt generate funding for carrying out much needed detailed environmental assessments for all the proposed projects, experts believe that it is unlikely to save Lake Turkana.

Mombasa is going white and blue! The recently introduced colour code that all buildings are required to comply with is being implemented with gusto.

Even buildings within the Old Town Conservation area, a gazetted monument, are being re-painted.

Mombasa, one of the oldest metropolises, has buildings with distinct architectural styles but these are now being hazed with a regimented colour scheme.

Every building has its individuality that is expressed through its style and colour.

Whether a monochromatic Mombasa will be more attractive and boost tourism remains to be seen.

However, what Mombasa residents and visitors would like to see is a cleaner city free of flooding, better roads, etc.

Fatima Lobo our longstanding treasurer of more than 10 years is leaving Kenya this month to return to her homeland, Goa.

Fatima’s contribution to FFJ has been immense.

She has managed our accounts meticulously, liaised with auditors and tax authorities, all with great efficiency. She has been very supportive and participated in all our activities.

Thank you, Fatima! Our best wishes to you and Oscar as you return to India.

We look forward to seeing you in Mombasa when you visit. We are very grateful to Selina Uballa and Neelam Shah for taking over Fatima’s role.

Selina will handle the petty cash and memberships and Neelam who is an ex-council member and accountant by profession will be the treasurer.

After a lull over Ramadan we have a busy month ahead. Our regular events, tree planting and heritage visit are delayed and we have had to squeeze both programmes in July before the schools close.

Thanks to several members for their donations for these events in cash and kind. (Taibali Hamzali, Chairman)


Saturday, 19th May - Bird Walk at Forest Trail

We set out with a slight delay due to traffic manenos, which might as well have helped in getting to some spots at the right time!

At the Forest Trails one has to earn ones stripes by listening to bird calls and looking keenly at dense shrubs and sedges for any movement.

We heard Black-throated Wattle-eye, Tambourine Dove and got a glimpse of an African Paradise Flycatcher with its long white tail.

From high up in a Casuarina Tree a young Verreaux Eagle Owl checked us out from a nest, which had been a nursery to another young VEO a year ago.

Village Weavers were busily building nests and displaying to a few females and while watching this activity and scanning the nests with our binos we “discovered” to our amazement a beautiful Giant Kingfisher perched even closer to us!! What an exciting moment this was! 

It took us about 2hours to complete a loop and record 10 precious species of our feathered friends.


Giant Kingfisher | Caostweek

Coastweek -- Giant Kingfisher. PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE

Tuesday, 26th - ‘Colubus Conservation’: Talk by Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, conservation manager at the Colobus Conservation, gave a very succinct presentation on how and why the trust came into being and the work they do to conserve the Colobus monkeys.

Colobus Conservation was set up 20 years ago by a group of Diani residents who were appalled at the number of monkeys dying from vehicle accidents as they tried to cross roads.

One of the first projects was to erect ‘colobridges’ (they are like ladders, made from metal roads and pvc conduits) which are stretched across trees and help the monkeys traverse roads safely.

The impact was impressive with a noticeable drop in road accidents.

Since then the center has grown considerably. It is now a research base used by local and overseas students, has a clinic, rehabilitation facilities for distressed monkeys and an information centre.

The Centre’s activities are funded exclusively from private donations.

One of the major threats to the survival of the colobus is poaching.

They are hunted for game meat or sold as domestic pets.

Others die from electrocution from un-insulated power cables but this problem is being mitigated by trimming trees near power lines and the use of insulated power cables.

Tree planting to replace lost habitat, education and creating awareness within the resident communities, especially school children, are part of their activities.

Our thanks to Kelly for an excellent presentation and for patiently answering the endless questions put to her.

This was a very informative and inspiring talk. Thanks too to the many members who braved the wet weather.

Saturday, 30th June - Visit to Colubus Conservation, Diani

Our group of a dozen was warmly received by Esther in a well laid out information area adorned with beautifully painted murals and a mock ‘colobridge’.

After a brief resume of the activities we proceeded to tour the grounds where we saw the rehab facility that had three young residents, all orphaned. We saw only one, Whitecap, who came out of his shelter to munch on some leaves.

A cheerful character, he lost one arm (and his mother) to electrocution. However his disability did not deter him from swinging merrily from one perch to next.

Generally, upon recovery all the monkeys are released to the wild as a single group. Access to the clinic where the monkeys are treated was not possible as they had a quarantine patient.

The forest walk was brief. We saw some sample snares. They are used to teach children how to identify them. Snare removal from forests is a regular activity with schools.


The colourful information centre | Coastweek

  Coastweek -- The colourful information centre.  PHOTO: DORIS SCHAULE

Lunch was at Africachild, a rescue centre for young single mothers. Set up by a German philanthropist the centre not only provides shelter but also teaches the women income generating skills such as tailoring, cooking and hairdressing.

The centre is very efficiently managed by Ms. Salama and her small team. Funding is challenging as it is solely from private donations.

There was a boost from our member Aslam Kasmani who was so inspired with the good work he donated 20,000.

We ended the day with a delicious afternoon tea graciously served by Eileen while James gave us an update on the preparations for a grand celebration of the WW commemoration in Taita in late November 2018.

If there is enough interest FFJ will arrange a trip. We will circulate more details once the programme is finalised.


Saturday, 7th July -Tree planting at Gedi Secondary School

Our annual tree planting in collaboration with the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya will be at Gedi Secondary, one of the schools that participated in a last heritage visit.

Our aim is to plant about 1,000 seedlings. Tree plantings with WCK have been very enjoyable where students, teachers and parent come together for the planting.

We welcome all our members to attend and also for any donations that will help towards the purchase of seedlings.

Meeting point is at the school at 10.00am. To get there follow the road to Gedi Ruins, Gedi Secondary is clearly sign posted and is before the Gedi Ruins.

We will arrange for shared transport if there are enough members.

If you are interested in joining please confirm with Kalim Hassanali,
Email: or by SMS 0735 209 814. 

Saturday, 14th July - Heritage Visit: Schools for Gede area

The four schools for this visit are from the Gede area (near to Malindi) are Canon Mwer, Jimba Gede, Francis Bob Tuva and M’baraka Chembe Secondary Schools.

The students will arrive around 9 a.m. They will be served breakfast followed by a guided tour of the Old Town and the Butterfly House. After lunch Hassan Mohamed will give a tour of the Fort.

The programme will end at about 3.30pm.

Many children from less wealthy schools in outlying areas have never been to Fort Jesus or the Old Town.

These biannual visits, now in the 10th year, give the children an opportunity to see their heritage and help to educate them for the need for its conservation.

If any member wishes to join us please contact Taibali Hamzali by latest Wednesday, 11th July.  If you want breakfast and lunch, the charge will be Shs 600 per person, money to be paid in advance to the Mpesa quoted below.

If any member would like to donate towards this event please send by Mpesa: #0715565619 – Doris Schaule.

Saturday, 21st July - Bird Walk at Haller Park

This month’s walk is at Haller Park. The meeting point is at the ticket office at 3.00pm. Please note there is a small entry fee. 

For more information see our Facebook page or contact Doris Schaule Tel: 0722 277752. Email:

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