Thank you so much to the 48 people who attended our lively second annual general meeting on Wednesday 15 March 2017 at the KWS education hall.
For those of you unable to attend chairman Maarifa Ali oversaw proceedings and in his address called upon members to help the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest other than paying their very welcome subscription.
Having thanked his committee for their hard work Dr Maarifa stepped down as chairman but will remain on the committee along with Francis Kagema vice-chairman, Deborah Goodhart – secretary, Lissa Ruben – vice-secretary, Sammy Safari, Andrew McNaughton, Jonathan Baya, Charo Ngumbao and Helen Curtis. We are delighted to welcome onto the committee Crispin Sharp who is now the treasurer, Lynn Njeri Njuguna from KWS and Ray Muremi from One Twelve printers, Malindi. Nicky Parazzi will leave the committee but remain as an advisor.
Treasurer Jonathan Baya ran through the accounts for the year 2015/2016 and thanked Crispin Sharp for taking over as treasurer.
Ann Robertson formally thanked the chairman and committee for their work during the year.
Nigel Arensen told the meeting that he knows that there is much going on in the forest that Friends are not aware of including research work. He also put forward the idea of quarterly meetings, perhaps with a speaker, but also to update members.
Lissa Ruben gave a synopsis of the road clearances, patrols and many other activities that the Friends had supported during the year. She also thanked Andy Thomas for his donation of four motor bikes to the Friends that will enable the mobilization of the community in the forest. She asked for a show of hands of how many people would attend quarterly meetings, there was a unanimous show of hands and so it was agreed that these would be arranged.
Suzanne King suggested that various Friends set up working groups, to encourage involvement. It was agreed that this is an excellent idea.
Valerie Nicholls asked about the number of elephants in the forest and the number of snares collected last year. Lissa responded that the exact number of elephant is not known but work is underway to get more detail. It was confirmed by A Rocha that 517 snares were found, mostly for duiker.
The new KWS warden L K Lenguro was introduced and spoke of the new CCTV cameras he is putting in place to monitor activity. He said that he is working 24/7 with his staff to protect the amazing Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
At the end of the meeting Professor Jan Christian Habel from the Technical University of Munich gave a short talk. He has 40 students researching in the forest from the birds to sociologists working with the people. He invited those present to attend the final presentations at Jamii Villas the following day. He said these findings would eventually be available on the internet and the Friends could link it to their website.
Once the proceedings were over some of the audience went for a walk in the forest and a few of us almost saw the elephant at the swamp. Thank you to everyone for their support and look forward to seeing you more often during the year.