Deforestation and decimation of Biota in Kericho district of Kenya, East Africa

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Kerich, Richard Kimutai
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Deforestation and decimition of Biota in Kericho District, Kenya. Deforestation and decimation of biota have been recognized as some of the most pressing world problems of the recent times. Today certain plants and animals are faced with a threat of extinction due to increased deforestation and decimation of biota within the natural environment. This study focuses on deforestation and decimation of plants and animals and sought answers to the following questions: a)Is the amount of land under natural forests in Kericho District the same extent now as it was twenty (or more)years* ago? b) What kind of faunal and floral changes have taken place within Kericho District since the last twenty (or over) years* ago? c) Is the productivity of soil the same now as it was twenty (or over)years* ago? and if not why? d) Is there a plant or animal whose existence in the District is endangered outside the protected areas? e) What are the major causes of increased rate of deforestation and decimation of species within the District? *Refers to twenty or over years from 1988. The study was carried out in Kericho District of Kenya, East Africa using fifty (50) randomly selected nodal or study points. The selected study points were scattered throughout the District. From each study points ten (10) interviewees were selected. Interviewees were selected. Consequently the total number of people interviewed were five hundred (500). When all the fifty nodal points are considered. The District was divided into two ecological zones and for each of the zones thirteen (13) plants and thirteen (13) animals were sampled for the study. The information required from the respondents was that which helped in the attainment of the objectives stated. Specifically, four broad areas were dealt with by the stated objectives and these are:- a) Magnitude of deforestation of the past twenty (or over) years ago as compared with the present. b) Relative abundance of named plants and animals. c) Cultural traditions and perception of environmental conservation. d) Environmental awareness and mode/rate of information dissemination. The data required were collected through the use of a questionnaire and an observation record sheet. Field observations were done by the researcher using the observation record sheet as a tool while the questionnaire was used to elicit information from the respondents. When preparing the research tools, the objectives of this study were borne in mind. This was necessary if the set objectives were to be achieved. In summary, the study was intended to: a) determine the extent of deforestation in Kericho District. b) identify the major reasons for deforestation in the District. c) identify the conservation measures taken to safeguard the forests in the District. d) identify those floral and faunal species that are endangered within the District. e) identify major causes of elimination of plant and animal species within the District. f) identify (if any) attitudes and perceptions of the people of the District that would reinforce or go against the conventional conservation measures for soil, natural forests, and endangered plant and animal species. g) determine the state of environmental awareness of the people of Kericho District. The tools were therefore designed so as to meet the requirements of the stated objectives. Majority of the data collected were in form of stated opinions checked off in the provided Likert Scale within the questionnaire. To ease analysis and interpretation of data, responses were categorized depending on their position within the provided Likert Scale. For all the responses received in form of a Likert Scale, categorization was done accordingly. Classification of the opinions expressed made it easy to distinguish between the extreme opinions e.g. "Low" and "High". However, "decision" level was set for all responses given in form of a Likert Scale. In judging the provided responses the set "decisions" level was "moderate". Any response that was either high, or very high was categorized "high" while responses given as very low, low, or moderate were categorized "low". From the recorded opinions, frequency of responses falling into any one category (i.e. low or high) was determined using the set criteria mentioned above. As a basis for conclusion, means, percentages and absolute counts were determined for the various categories of responses received. The other set of data collected was that obtained from field observation and these include actual counts of plants within their natural environment and self assessment of the extent of deforestation within the study areas. Data derived from actual field observation were intended to confirm the information given by the respondents regarding deforestation and decimation of biota. From the assembled data relevant calculations were done depending on the parameters involved in the objective under consideration. Basically, averages, percentages and frequencies were computed and these sufficed for to conclude on set objectives. It was from the computed values that conclusions were made concerning the stated objectives. The research findings indicate that: a) Deforestation in Kericho District is currently higher than it was in the past** according to peoples views. (see table 11p.83). b) Majority of the forests within Kericho District have reduced in size by people's opinions. (see table 12 p.86). c) Due to habitat destruction (in form of deforestation) animals have greatly reduced in number everywhere within the District). d) Within Kericho District, there has been a great reduction in both plants' abundance and their species diversity. e) Cultural traditions and environmental perception of the people of Kericho District are supportive of conservation measures of plants and animals. f) Of the sampled plants Juniperus procera was found to be the least frequent outside the gazetted area and needed protection from wanton destruction. g) Acacia lahai, although still abundant within the District, was found to have experienced the greate
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