Conservation volunteer work and gap years in Kenya

Mad In Africa

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by Rupert Pate

“Not all endangered species in Kenya have four legs”. Michael Mugo and his two companions, Bob and Martin, are heading up a local Kenyan conservation initiative and myself and fourteen other Madventurers are here for five weeks to do what we can to help.

Conservation is one of many activities that Madventurer gets involved with on its expeditions. This particular project involves working with ASACDOK, which is an abbreviation for the rather convoluted, Arid And Semi Arid Conservation And Development Organisation Of Kenya. Today is day one and Michael is explaining what we will attempt to achieve over the course of the next 5 weeks.

One of ASACDOK’s major concerns is that the Sahara desert is moving south at 11kms per year turning what was fertile workable soil into infertile unworkable sand. This is happening mainly because of ignorance by the farmers as to how to use the land’s resources sustainably. Being ‘green’ is for the most part a philosophical luxury reached by societies living in relative financial wealth. In other words, conservation concerns normally only come to the fore in a environment where you are not worried by questions such as: where will my next meal come from? It is for this reason that indigenous developing world conservation organisations are rare. ASACDOK is different and so has attracted the attention and support of Madventurer.


Education is key for ASACDOK and they set about doing this by establishing ‘conservation clubs’ in schools. Children at the school are then encouraged to join these clubs where they learn how to grow trees. Once the trees are mature they are sold by the clubs at the local markets at a cheap non-profit making price. The revenue raised is enough to buy more seeds, tools etc. making the clubs financially self-sufficient.

ASACDOK careful chooses the species that it domesticates. Prunus Africana is a rare species that has been earmarked for domestication. The bark from this tree is a valuable remedy against a prostate disorder, called benign prostatic hyperplasia. Unfortunately Prunus is being harvested unsustainably at a staggering rate. According to research carried out by ICRAF under the current conditions, Prunus has 5-10 years at best before it is extinct. ASACDOK, with the help of Madventurer, is trying to raise awareness about this problem and slow the depletion rate down by growing the species in the school nurseries.

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Image courtesy eGuide Travel




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