First Kenya volunteer team is back from the field

Posted on September 10th, 2008 in General by Administrator

This is an email to Craig von Hagen  last night.  Craig is leading MAPA in Kenya where a whole crowd of volunteers have divided 60 protected areas up between themselves.  Paolo and Filippo were the first out in the field and this is their report.

Incidentally, the quality of data they brought back was terrific and Wouter,  of Tracks4Africa who process MAPA data, suggests that their output could be used as a standard for everyone else – thanks guys!

Hi Craig,

 Here we are back to the cold Nairobi….it was much better on the coast.

The cooperation with KWS was perfect and at the end of the day we managed to drive for more than 12 hours inside the Arabuko Sokoke Forest, to map the entrance of the Malindi Marine park and to track all the way from Nairobi to Malindi and return with the data logger (1,500 km in total). The same was on during all the time of mapping. No time to complete also the Watamu marine park. It means that this has to be covered by somebody else. Pole sana

 We have taken many photos as well and we also have a list of lessons learnt that would like to share with you for the next mapping exercise.

At the end of the day we spent much more time than foreseen in the Arabuko Sokoke Forest as there are so many roads that are not mapped anywhere and this makes difficult to estimate the needed time to cover all the tracks.

 Anyway we managed to do quite a number of new roads in the forest that were not covered by T4A and by the maps they have. It was also fun because we had to chop down many trees that were obstructing the road due to the combined effect of heavy rainy season and many elephants pulling them down: so a lot of panga work and a lot of …blisters on our hands.

I have here in the office the datalogger, gps, external antenna but not yet the photos, transcript form the field book, and list of lessons learnt.

If you wish to pass and collect the waypoints in the office you are more than welcome.

Otherwise may be tomorrow you could get everything.

 Ah, a note on the antenna: it was not sticking on the roof of the landy: it is aluminium!

On top of that given the very close forest and the presence of too many branches hooked by the car we decide to stick the antenna on the internal side of the windscreen with some tape.

 Anyway it was really exciting!


 PS: I’ve copied also Aaron and Lucienne who were with us during these days.

MAPA in South Africa

Posted on September 3rd, 2008 in General by Administrator

Please use this thread to keep us and everyone else up to date with your thinking on the South African leg of MAPA’s work, thanks!

Kenyan mappers start work

Posted on September 3rd, 2008 in MAPA expeditions by Administrator

This thread is meant for anyone who is involved or interested in MAPA’s work in Kenya.  I will encourage everyone to check here for news and information.

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Now South African team are ready to go mapping…..

Posted on September 2nd, 2008 in MAPA expeditions by Administrator

Having set the Kenyans on their way, South Africa’s volunteers are now gearing up to complete that country’s conservation areas.


We have had a wonderful response from people willing to help map in South Africa – another country which we are tyring to map entirely using volunteers in their own cars.

For historical reasons, South Africa has 350 targetted protected areas compared to Kenya’s 60.  This doesn’t mean that Kenya is any less worth protecting (or mapping), it is just that South Africa has been more persistent in categorising its conservation areas and these formally classified reserves are the backbone of the MAPA target list.

Tracks4Africa has excellent road and waypoint data for many of these reserves and they are generously donating that data to the MAPA project.  So, it is a question of working out what still needs to be done. Volunteers will also be adding phots to the data – these will be used when we post the maps up on the internet.

Many, many thanks to Hannes Thirion who has been plotting all the target parks and examining them to see what still needs to be done.  He and I will be sending out the ‘to do’ lists as soon as possible.  You may be interested to know that the most committed mapping teams in the Eastern Cape are led by female drivers – the only part of the country where that seems to be true.

We need to get these guys on the road, and collect their data by the end of Novembe.  If anyone else can help we desperately need drivers out there.  If you plan to visit any reserves, let us know and we might ask you to take a few photos for us!



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Kenya team gets going…

Posted on September 2nd, 2008 in MAPA expeditions by Administrator

I have just come back from a week in Nairobi, and it has been fantastic.   I went with two main objectives:

  • First, we went to meet with the Kenya Wildlife Service who manage most (but not all) of the major protected areas in Kenya. Craig von Hagen and I presented a sample MAPA park(Nairobi National Park) to the KWS Executive, including Director Julius Kipeng’etich. Craig had mapped the park and the T4A team had created a Google Earth and MapSource representation.  It was very professional.  I will post those files up onto the website shortly, so that you can all see what the standard is.
  • Tom Sipul of Kenya Wildlife Service and Craig von Hagen of MAPA Kenya

Craig von Hagen of MAPA Kenya and Tom Sipul of Kenya Wildlife Service

    The meeting went really well and we will be working very closely with KWS to map the rest of the protected areas.

  • The second job was to see if we could muster enough self-drive volunteers together to map all 60 targetted Kenyan reserves.  We had a brilliant turnout at Village Market in Nairobi (and quite a lot of drinks) and I think we just might do it by mid Novemebr which is the project target for Kenya!  It will be fantastic if we can.  Craig and I are currently working out who will do which parks.

Sincere thanks to everyone who pitched up and especially Craig von Hagen who is giving so generously of his time and skill.

We also got great support from Rajeev Handa of Garmin East Africa who made several GPS units available to the Kenya team.