A Rocha Kenya (ARK) serves the natural world through scientific research, advocacy, environmental education, and sustainable community-based conservation programmes.
By working with local communities, our partner aims to achieve the long-term conservation of threatened habitats and species, with a focus on the Important Bird Areas clustered around Watamu and Malindi on the Kenyan coast.
ARK’s work restores habitats and empowers people to be agents and stewards of conservation.
ARK is part of the wider A Rocha conservation network, which has a presence in more than 20 countries around the world.
Since being founded in 1999, ARK have worked closely with local authorities, communities and conservation organisations in Kenya, studying and restoring threatened habitats and protecting endangered species within two landscapes (Dakatcha Woodland and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest) and two coastal seascapes (Mida Creek and Watamu Marine National Park).
ARK’s advice on avian conservation issues has been sought by the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Airports Authority and the National Museums of Kenya.
World Land Trust (WLT) have been working with ARK since 2020, when we began funding land purchase in the Dakatcha Woodland through our Action Fund.
Although recognised as a Key Biodiversity Area and part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot, the 465,000-acre Dakatcha Woodland area receives no protection from the Kenyan government; 50% of the habitat here has already been converted to farmland and pasture, and it continues to be cleared for agriculture and burned for charcoal (a source of fuel).
Together with a group of other organisations, WLT helped ARK to expand the size of their A Rocha Kenya Dakatcha Reserve by almost two and a half times in 2021.
A Rocha Kenya Dakatcha Reserve
This 3,714-acre (1,503 ha) reserve is home to four Endangered species, including three birds (the Sokoke Scops Owl, Sokoke Pipit and Clarke’s Weaver) and the Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew. With all four restricted to just a few small areas on the East African coast, protected areas like the ARK Dakatcha Reserve are key to the species’ ongoing survival.
Caracal, Blue Monkey, Crested Porcupine and Suni (a small antelope) are among the other wildlife that live here – and an image of Leopard captured on a camera trap in the target area for the reserve is the only record for the Kenyan north coast south of the Tana River.
In 2021, our partner employed six scouts to patrol the reserve and spread the message of conservation – and its importance – among local communities. This is part of ARK’s wider strategy to promote sustainable livelihoods and build strong relationships with the communities of Dakatcha.
Other Projects and Activities
Much of ARK’s work is connected to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, the largest and most intact coastal forest in East Africa. ARK is involved in management, research, conservation, fundraising, and community roles here, including:
- Secretary to the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Management Team (ASFMT)
- Lead partner in the Research & Monitoring Working Group for the ASFMT
- Implementing the Arabuko-Sokoke Schools and Eco-Tourism Scheme (ASSETS), which has provided eco-bursaries to over 800 children living around the forest
- Publishing digitised biodiversity datasets on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) as one of just four GBIF publishers in Kenya
Outside of Arabuko-Sokoke, ARK’s work includes:
- Governance and applied conservation research in Watamu Marine National Park
- Lead partner for the Ngulia Bird Migration Project in Tsavo West National Park
- Lead partner in the teaching contribution for an annual course in Kenya, ‘Fundamentals of Ornithology’, which has trained over 600 birders and bird guides
- Forest regeneration studies at Gede Ruins National Monument
- Contributing to long-term local, national and international bird monitoring schemes, including being a lead partner for the Kenya Bird Map since 2013 and the African Bird Atlas Project since 2020
- Scientific research and monitoring of avian populations, forest and marine habitats, and the impact of humans on natural habitats
National Director: Colin Jackson