Protecting the Boni-Dodori Forest, Kenya

Aders Duiker

Protecting the Boni-Dodori Forest

The Kenyan coastal forests are globally recognised for their wealth in biodiversity and endemism. The Boni-Dodori forest marks the northern end of this unique system and is among the most fragile ecosystems in Kenya. The Boni-Dodori National Reserves were established in 1976 and covers over 2000km2 and is one of Kenya’s last remaining coastal forests.

Yet, the area’s importance was only recognized very recently due to its political insecurity and inaccessibility. It still remains primarily intact but is at great risk from forest degradation and threats of development. Urgent action is needed to preserve it, while allowing it to be used in a sustainable way by the indigenous communities.

Conserving the rare Aders’ Duiker

Aders’ duiker, Cephalophus adersi, is the rarest of Africa’s forest antelopes, endemic to the forests of East Africa. Until recently, it was known only from several other coastal locations in Kenya, but was sighted for the first time in 2004 by a ZSL and Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) team in Dodori forest. A rapid survey was undertaken by ZSL, KWS and Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) in 2008 to establish its distribution. Results of the survey even suggested the Boni-Dodori forest was a stronghold for the Ader’s duiker population, and so a globally important area for its conservation.

The Aders’ duiker is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting for bushmeat. Population estimates show that over the last 20 years the number of Aders' duikers has fallen by around 80% from 5000 individuals to around 1000.  

Camera trapping in the Boni-Dodori

Boni-Dodori is a priority area for research and conservation efforts, and ZSL are working with KWS to carry out more in-depth surveys of these forests. Boni-Dodori's biodiversity needed to be understood before action could be taken to protect it. In 2010, the ZSL and KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service), with partners WWF and Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, set up camera traps in three locations around the Boni-Dodori region and in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest National Reserve. Just under 63,000 images were collected, revealing 40 mammal species, including a potentially new species of giant sengi (Macroscelidea).

These findings have fuelled plans for a wider conservation project that aims to continue developing our understanding of Boni-Dodori’s biodiversity, train Kenyan scientists and forestry staff to study and manage the area, and to raise awareness in local communities of its importance. Ultimately, preserving  the valuable coastal forest ecosystem without impinging on the livelihoods of the local communities.