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Friends of Nairobi National Park Field Trip Video

This little video illustrates the fun and craziness that we get up to – a visit to the Olerai Conservancy in the Nairobi Park wildebeest dispersal area, and installation of a biogas unit at a Masai homestead.


To Join the exciting group of Friends of Nairobi National Park simply email us on fonnap1@gmail.com, or visit our offices at the Nairobi Park entrance, KWS HQ on Langata Rd , we are right next door to the Smart Card office.

Membership – 1,000 per person per annum, 2,000 per family, 10,000 for corporates.

Tell all your friends!

March 21, 2011 Posted by | biogas, carbon emissions, Climate change, Conservation, Wildebeest migration, Wildlife | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Biogas bursting with Energy

We’ve been away for a few days and received this email

Subject “Full of goodness, Bursting with energy”

Content – of the email was simply this photo

bursting biogas.jpg

You cant imagine my pride… my cow dung has done that! Wow!

I hope you’ll agree that’s pretty serious expansion if you compare photos of the system just a few days ago. And if it’s your first time to participate in my biogas experiment, then you must check out my condom experiment here.

Well, we finally made fire!biogas fire.jpg

Check it out! I’m so happy 🙂

We all knew it would work – so why were we so impressed when it actually did?


There’s something quite delicious about making this thing work – but truth be told, while it was fun flaring the gas around and enjoying the warm blue flame, we have come across a snag. The pressure in the bag is insufficient to run my kitchen stove.

So now we have another plan, it involves two bright blue tanks, more pipes, wrenches, glue and a hose… and some rather ingenious ideas of creating pressure using water… watch this space.

Please note that This is a home experiment to create biogas for our home consumption – we (Paula, Peter and Dominic) would love to hear your comments, get your involvement and hear your ideas.

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June 8, 2010 Posted by | carbon emissions, carbon footprint, Climate change, Conservation, green house gases, Kenya | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Sick of Raila-baki rip off schemes? Help us re-plant the Mau

Moi, Kibaki and all the other uselesss politicans in this country have left us no choice but to replant the Mau ourselves.

So, @kahenya (kahenya.com) and I are going on a wild expedition to Ogiek-land with Dr. Mukuria to learn about how we slept when the  forest was destroyed, and to replant our own patch with indigenous trees ….and God Forbid anyone tries to chop them down. This is part of a lifetime commitment to repair this damaged country.

Karuru Falls

Join us, we need your help, please make your contribution to the Kahenya smile-or-swear-for-a-tree campaign, and we will plant trees, and bring you news from that bleeding heart of Kenya

MPESA your contribution to 0724985074 or make an online donation to Mau-Mandala blog


January 12, 2010 Posted by | carbon footprint, Climate change, Conservation, Presidents | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Video on climate change – Rhoda’s footprint

I made a mistake in a previous guys – no not about gays or wife beaters, but about Rhoda’s carbon footprint.

It’s actually much smaller than I’d estimated so I’ve made a movie about Rhoda’s Footprint.

Watch it here

Poor people living in African countries are feeling the brunt of global climate change even though it is believed that most Africans cause hardly any green house gas emissions. To find out more about the average Kenyan carbon footprint I spoke to my neighbor Rhoda.  Rhoda is a domestic worker and she came to Nairobi from her rural home in search of a  job. Like me Rhoda she rents her house, and lives with her husband and one child.  What’s her carbon footprint?

You can also  listen to the podcast here on PRX

December 4, 2009 Posted by | carbon emissions, carbon footprint, Climate change, Conservation, green house gases, Kenya, Podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


In a previous post I was disgusted with the size of my carbon footprint. Do you know the sources of your carbon footprint?

Based on a little research I figured out that it’s easy to calculate your own footprint with out using those web based black box carbon calculators

  1. Air Travel is pretty bad- for every km you fly you emit 0.119 kg of CO2 – the good news is that it’s half or less per km of what you emit from your car, but the bad news is that you tend to fly long distances. This Carbon emissions website helps you to calculate distances you travel and will even calculate your emissions for you.
  2. Fuels – In Kenya we use fuel primarily for transport, cooking and lighting. Our electricity in Nairobi is mostly generated by hydro and thermal power so I’m leaving this out for now. For people in Mombasa where power is generated from diesel and heavy fuel oil and where we tend to use the air conditioners the carbon impact could be significant. 1 kilowatt hour is equivalent to 1 kg of Carbon dioxide emissions.
  3. HOLY COW! I’ve included cows because they are especially bad news. Each cow produces 90 kg of methane per year in form of farts. Methane is 21 times more potent than carbon Dioxide as a Green House Gas. This means that every cow you have contributes 1,890 kg of Carbon Dioxide equivalent per year.
Fuel and carbon emissions

Carbon emissions by fuel type

*1 Based on how charcoal is produced, I’ve assumes that for every 1 kg of charcoal produced is equivalent to 3 kg of raw wood. Charcoal and wood are both carbon neutral as they are not fossil fuels – but unless you are harvesting them sustainably their use is contributing to carbon in the atmosphere
*2 See Holy Cow! above

(Note that different websites give slightly different rates of carbon emissions for things like petrol/diesel)
Based on the above rates, here are my calculations for my carbon footprint.

Sources of my carbon footprint

Ok despite the fact that I mostly use cotton bags at the super market, I generally don’t buy water in bottles, and I compost my garden wastes, I’m still pretty disgusting – my carbon footprint is nearly 16 tons!!! I’m weeping..… despite everything I’m doing, compared to the global average of 4 tons, my footprint is truly massive (though I should indicate that this is the combined feetprints of me and my partner ;}
How do I compare with carbon emitters elsewhere?

Some Australians on average spend 14 tons on household energy in warming homes alone!
The Average American uses 11 tons of carbon per year  – the range is vast
The Average Kenyan uses .31 tons (but I don’t think the average estimates include all those farting cows, burning of fields and all the firewood burned every day).

Looking at the figures it’s easy to see that my massive footprint is because I travel too much and drive a 4×4. But it’s all necessary for work. Thank God I don’t have a cow! Turns out cows may be worse for the planet than car and this article tells you why. Well, surely I can offset these emissions fairly easily?
Options for offsetting my Carbon Footprint

Planting trees – everyone is doing this it’s a treeplantingmania in Kenya. But to me it seems futile, most seedlings aren’t cared for and just die….while more and more trees are being felled daily.

Take into consideration the fact that  seedlings hardly absorb any carbon at all…they are just too small with too few leaves. I’ve calculated how many seedlings I need to plant if we estimate that the survival rate of my seedlings is likely to be about 75% (feeling confident here).

They will need a liter of water every few days – that means I need to find about 150 liters of water per seedling per year to achieve this rate of survival. I must not use pesticides or fertilizers as these are carbon emitting products.

After 5 years or so these seedlings will be absorbing about .5 kg carbon each per year. At this rate I need to plant 15064 x 1.25 (survival rate) x 2 (kg of carbon) = 39,160 seedlings and sustain them for the next 100 years.

For this I need to find 5.9 tons of water every year for their first 5 years or so – that’s 804 20 liter jerry cans per day! That’s just a rough estimate.

As if that’s not bad enough, for these trees to survive I need to find a place to plant them ..lets see for a tree to do well and grown into a giant carbon sucking machine, they must be at least 5 m apart – that’s 400 per hectare so I’ll need 94 hectares and I’ll have to keep these tree alive.

If these calculations are right, then planting seedlings seems totally ridiculous! Where on earth will I find that much land?

Ok, let me look at the alternatives

If I don’t have ninety something hectares I could invest in grown up trees as they are more efficient at absorbing carbon. A mature tree absorbs between 1 – 1.2 kg of Carbon Dioxide per year and will live for approximately 100 years.
What if I just save grown up trees that are already massive carbon sucking machines rather than invest in all that water and care to seedlings that spend their first five pathetic lives doing very little to offset my footprint. It will mean that to offset my footprint I must ensure that 15,000 trees are protected each year. That’s 37.5 hectares of forest land. I know that I can’t afford that!

What else can I do to mop up my mess? Can I sequester my own carbon?

You’d be surprised. I’ll let you in on a secret in my next post …keep reading

November 30, 2009 Posted by | carbon emissions, carbon footprint, Climate change, Conservation, green house gases | 7 Comments

I don’t believe My Carbon Footprint –

Based on @rafikikenyas post about his big fat carbon footprint I thought I’d do mine and prove that I’m naturally much less of an earth destroyer.Rafiki Kenya discovered that his footprint is 11 tonnes per year – THREE TIMES BIGGER THAN THE WORLD AVERAGE AND BIGGER THAN THE AVERAGE FOR INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS which is TOTALLY SHOCKING!!!

Rafiki Kenya's fat footprint

GUILTY EARTHDESTROYER RafikiKenya has this to say

Yes, my carbon footprint is bigger than the average footprint for people in Kenya, bigger than the average worldwide carbon footprint, and even bigger than the average for the industrial nations. Since we are not talking about the size of my manhood here (Tsk only a guy would say this) – which wouldn’t be a cause for alarm – but about the size of my carbon footprint, something needs to be done about it here and now.”

I used the same carbon footprint calculator powered by Carbon Footprint as RafikiKenya used. The results are even more shocking! Knowing that I’m a good tree hugger I did the same carbon exam and found that despite the fact that I am a vegetarian, I only do essential driving (ok it is a landrover – Damn Kenyan potholes) and I only buy local vegetables, I hardly go out, I don’t buy the latest gadgetry I’m just as bad as Rafiki Kenya ..if not worse because I didn’t know how to enter household gas and electricity equivalent!

My results were not much better than his

  • Your footprint is 21.03 tonnes, which equates to 10.51 tonnes per year
  • The average footprint for people in Kenya is 0.31 tonnes
  • The average for the industrial nations is about 11 tonnes
  • The average worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 tonnes
  • The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 tonnes

I HOPE THAT THIS IS ALL DAMN LIES, ALL OF IT! Because if its not then the world is really messed up – if we in Africa have to reduce our impact by 80% on an individual basis I just can’t see how we’d function.

Africans in nations like Kenya have an individual footprint of .31 tons – that’s one 7th of the global average and one fortieth of the industrial average. Yet we are facing devastating impacts of climate change already with a drought that has killed 80% of our livestock, low rainfall and failed crops, forest cover loss that has dried up streams and stolen our power generation.    Climate change is causing conflicts and hundreds die annually as a result not to mention the thousands who are dying of starvation. And resolving starvation by planting more food is a sure way to make things worse – land use change is the greatest driver of climate change. We’re screwed.

This graph is from WildlifeDirects Baraza blog and should help you understand why I’m so pessimistic – carbon emissions must decline to pre 1990 if we are to save the planet as we know it. That means the average American reduces his or her impact by at least half. Well if my emissions in Nairobi are as big as the average Americans and I don’t even heat my house then I really wonder what they can cut out – meat, driving, buying stuff …really? That would drive the country into an economic recession … hey isn’t that what we’re bailing ourselves out of right now with a few cool trillion dollars?

According to a report on BBC today, industrialized nations promised Africa US$ 400 million per year to cope with climate change …and payments were supposed to start in 2001. That means that there should have been 400 x 9 or 360000000  or put it this way 3.6 trillion dollars sent to AFrica. Well, to date only US$ 260m (not even 10% of the promise)  has been placed in a bank and the rest cannot be accounted for.

It’s in todays headlines:

Africa seeks climate change cash

Climate change help for the poor has not materialised

So, whatever promises are made in Copenhagen, get drunk but don’t bother cheering  – divide promises by about 12 and you’ll find we’re on the trajectory to frying the planet. Lets face it Africa is already frying.

Carbon payments and offsetting MY ASS

What can we do as Kenyans? Well Rafiki Kenya is undertaking  a great solution patented by @kahenya – it’s called swear for trees and it might help to relieve your tension but will do nought for climate change.

I have a better idea – the climate change calculator puts a huge amount of emphasis on what we buy and how we travel so I should change my car for a motorbike, stop international travel (my one flight to China costs the atmosphere 5.16 tons – equivalent to 15,000 km of driving in my car! A flight to NYC from Nairobi costs 2.7 tons. Equivalent to using a motorbike all year long. Damn.

I thought that being a vegetarian would count for something but that calculator seems to be faulty…

November 25, 2009 Posted by | Conservation | 5 Comments

Lions and cheetah in Nairobi Park


Visiting Nairobi Park every day has never become droll, inf act things just get better and better

Here are some of my favourite animals seen this week – Big cats!



lions play

And there are still cheetahs around!


September 26, 2009 Posted by | Conservation, Lion, Parks, Wildlife | Leave a comment

Who owns the cattle that are dying in Nairobi Park?


In a meeting this weekend with the warden of Nairobi National Park, Mr. Michael Wanjau of KWS and some other government officials as well as residents of the area, it was revealed that tens of thousands of cattle are grazing in the Nairobi National Park as a result of the ongoing devastating drought.

cows in park.jpg

Mr Wanjau admitted that the numbers of cattle in the park has reached record levels. So weak from walking hundreds of kilometers in search of grazing, many do not make it.

dead cow rangers.jpg

Some herders are cutting the fence of the park to let cattle in. Some are being herded across rivers.

vultures on dead cow.jpg

The southern part of Nairobi park is littered with cattle carcasses and vultures, hyenas and lions have eaten their fill.

dead cow in Kitengela.jpg

Out on the staging grounds in Kitengela adjacent to the park where cattle are gathering, hundreds are dying and nobody is removing carcasses. The Kenya Meat Commission tried to buy up the herds for Ksh 8,000 per cow (about 100$) but herders have refused to sell, they say they are hoping for rain.

dead cows in river.jpg

road side butchery.jpg

Some dead and dying cattle are being butchred on the roadsides which poses a horrific public health situation. The Ministry of Health is being informed as I write this blog post.

dying calf.jpg

Many cows affected by foot and mouth disease simply cannot walk anymore like this calf. She lay down by one of the entrances to KWS and just died right there. It broke my heart that no one would touch her or put her out of her misery for fear of whatever disease she was suffering from.

The meeting on Saturday felt that the situation is a crisis and are demanding that the government conduct compulsoray purchase of cattle to avert a public health and environmental disaster. But it is being whispered that these cattle are owned by rich and powerful Kenyans, a challenge that few Kenyans are willing to take head on.

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August 25, 2009 Posted by | Conservation, Lion, Parks, Wildlife | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Daniel wants to be a pilot

recording Daniel.jpg

Daniel is a Maasai boy aged 15 who lives on Mt Suswa. Like all boys his age his dream is to be a pilot. Listen to this podcast about his life in the wilderness – not much else is common to children his age the world over. He’s an extraordinary child with big dreams. I spoke to him and he had loads to say – listen to this podcast about Daniels plans to leave Maasailand and become a pilot

listening to play back.jpg

Daniel gave me a quick lesson in his language called Maa (spoken by the Maasai) and sends a powerful message to all children the world over.

daniel at cave.jpg

August 15, 2009 Posted by | Conservation, Lion, Maasai, Podcast, Wildlife | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The study of Zebra butts

The study of zebra behaviour starts with staring at their butts.
zebra butts.jpg
Like a fingerprint, each zebra has unique markings on it’s butt.
zebra sides.jpg
Of course the stripes on their sides are also individually unique
zebra yawn.jpg
but then you’d need two photos of each animal to identify it…
zebra kick.jpg
So after taking alot of photos of zebras assess you’d be able to tell who’s who in the soap opera of zebra life and understand why this guy is so mad.
Kenya has two species of Zebra, the plains zebra and the rare Grevy’s zebra. These two species co occur in Northern Kenya where they spend most of hteir time trying to avoid becoming lion lunch.
Shiva Sundaressan and his wife Corinne are studying what makes zebra society so damn interesting. Read their blog Saving Stripes on WildlifeDirect.

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August 14, 2009 Posted by | Conservation, Donkey, Lion, Parks, Wildlife | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment