Impact of farmers knowledge, attitude and land use practices on the conservation status of hinde's babbler (turdoides hindeiy in Mukurwe-ini valleys, Nyeri County.
Chege, J. Mutuota
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The country has identified 60 Important Bird Areas (IBA). These are areas with special bird species. Mukurwe-ini valleys are one of them. Half of the world’s population of Hinde’s Bablers are round here. It is a Kenyan endemic species which is threatened with extinction. This study evaluated the impact of farmers on the survival of the species in the IBA. The entire IBA is privately owned, heavily populated and is under intense agriculture. This makes Hinde's Babbler conservation a great challenge. An initial step was taken by Nature Kenya and National Museums of Kenya to train a local youth group to create local awareness of its conservation status. It is the impact-of this group to the farmers that the researcher focused on. Briefly, the objectives of the study were to assess awareness and local knowledge of Hinde's Babbler, to evaluate the attitudes of the farming community and to determine the habitats the species need for its activities. Finally to determine land use practices that enhances the species habitat. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedules and direct observations. The research focused on a sampled group of farmers along two transects. There were 500 farmers along the two transects out of which 53 were purposively sampled. The study took place between June and October 2010. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data analysis were utilized to analyse the data. Chi - square at p ≤ 0.05 was computed to test the research hypothesis that awareness and land use practices have no impact on conservation of Hinde's Babbler in Mukurwe-ini valleys. Data from questionnaires was entered into an SPSS statistical package for analysis. This study found that a high proportion of the farming community (73.9%) had low knowledge of Hinde's Babbler. Of those who were aware of the species, more males than female could distinguish it from other birds. Community attitude to conserve Hinde's babbler was very high with over 84% supporting in situ conservation of the species. However, more than half of the farmers (54)%) had taken no action towards species conservation. 52 major plant species were identified to constitute Hinde's Babbler habitat where almost a third (29.75%) was Lantana camara. Cultivated land also contributed to the preferred habitat where crops such as Napier grass, weeds and coffee constituted the highest percentage. Within the preferred habitat, tall trees such as Grivellea robusta, Eucalyptus saligna, Acasia mearnsii and Briderllia micrantha were also present. The major threat to the species conservation was found to be destruction of the habitat to clear way for farming. The study recommended that the site ought to have centers of environmental education and more focus on females on environmental training. Government and other partners should also advance conservation policy specifically focusing on endangered species out of conserved areas.