Meet MEP’s Partner: SeedBalls Kenya
SeedBalls Kenya is a low cost, highly efficient forest regeneration program that involves using a seed inside a ball of charcoal dust mixed with nutritious binders that are then distributed by throwing them where they will take root and grow.
SeedBalls Kenya is the brain child of Teddy Kinyanjui and Elsen Karstad who are focusing on helping reduce the costs of planting various useful indigenous plant species in Kenya. The tree seeds used are all sourced from the Kenya Forestry Seed Center who has a stock of seed of about 220 tree species collected from more than 600 localities (provenances) around Kenya. They use this provenance data to guide them in their seed distribution efforts. All of the charcoal dust is salvaged from an urban vending site in Nairobi and they use only paper bags and packaging materials that are locally sourced.
Mara Elephant Project is a partner with SeedBalls Kenya because we see the advantage of reforesting Kenya. MEP expanded our area of operation into the Loita and Mau forests starting in 2017 because the elephant carrying capacity of forests in Kenya is heavily threatened by anthropogenic pressures (i.e. land encroachment for settlement and forest degradation through grazing, fires, illegal logging for timber, charcoal and firewood, and wildlife poaching). Although forests may contain a quarter of Kenya’s total elephant population, knowledge on the status of forest-dwelling elephants in Kenya is outdated with little reliability.
Current management policies are insufficient to protecting the forests and urgent action is required to stop the poaching of elephants, the destruction of the forests by illegal logging operations and ensure the safety of the surrounding communities. As a result of our efforts in these forests we’ve been able to shutdown illegal logging sites and arrest loggers who are harvesting indigenous tree species illegally. Logging is a major issue in the forests of Kenya and MEP supports the importance of SeedBalls Kenya’s mission.
In 2017, MEP began using packs of seeballs and throwing them out of the MEP Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter. This proved to be a perfect way to distribute the seedballs over a larger area of land. Additionally, MEP rangers carry bags of seedballs that they then distribute while they are out on patrol. This is our way of partnering with a company that we believe has a great vision for the future of conserving Kenya’s indigenous plant species and will have a direct effect on the elephants relying on those plants.
Now, you can help them too! Donate seedballs through SeedBall Kenya directly to MEP so that we can distribute them while out on patrol or while flying the helicopter.
Seedballs Kenya takes a natural approach to reforestation and in the long term, this initiative will be investing much needed stimulus revenue into the Kenya national tree seed growing and collecting industry, helping to expand our forest cover through the development of new tree seed orchards and encouraging Kenyans to grow seed collection trees on small scale farms.
MEP believes this is a worthy cause that will directly impact the well-being of the Mara ecosystem’s elephants.