Our home for the twelve days of the Wildlife Handshake has been Diani Campsite and Cottages, a beautiful location just minutes away from the beach and bustling markets, and within easy reach of Shimba Hills National Reserve. With self-catering cottages, swimming pool, a fun and relaxed bar and restaurant and plenty of room for camping, this has been the perfect spot for us to live and work, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here. Along with the comfortable and roomy accommodation, we’ve been able to get to know the lovely, friendly staff and befriend the dogs and cats that lounge in the grounds.  We’ve also enjoyed the food at the bar when we’ve been too tired to cook, and the swimming pool has provided a great way to cool down after a long day of work. We’d all recommend Diani Campsite and Cottages for working trips or holidays; it’s got just the right mix of feeling at home and feeling excited to be surrounded by beautiful scenery and new experiences. More information can be found at: Website: http://dianicampsite.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/diani-campsite-and-cottages/89227530196 tripadvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g775870-d1961706-Reviews-Diani_Campsite_and_Cottages-Diani_Beach_Coast_Province.html...

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21 September 2013 was International Beach Clean-Up Day, an initiative of the Ocean Conservancy, sponsored by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), as part of the Trash Free Seas programme.  With the aim of galvanising volunteers to contribute to making the ocean and beaches cleaner, and to raise awareness about the effects of plastic waste on marine environments, the plans for the day caught the eye of Julie Church, founder of Ocean Sole.  Along with Steve Trott of the Watamu Marine Association, she has inspired around 500 people in Kenya and Tanzania to join in the effort to clean the countries’ beaches.  In Kenya, the majority of the coastline, from Kiunga in the North to Msambweni in the South, is covered, and it was in Msambweni that the Handshake joined the effort. Julie’s interest in the day, and in cleaning marine environments, stemmed originally from conservation work she carried out in Kiunga Marine National Reserve in 1997.  She was horrified at the waste washing up on the shores of fragile ecosystems and causing harm to the environment, then inspired by children making toys for themselves from the remains of flip flops they found on beaches.  She encouraged their mothers to collect flip flops, clean them and make them into colourful sculptures; this is the mainstay of Ocean Sole’s business, and continues today. In their workshop in Nairobi, Ocean Sole recycle about 100kg of flip flops a week.  They focus on selling what they are good at making, which is currently animal sculptures; their work is featured in zoos, museums and aquaria worldwide, including London, San Diego and Dubai.  With a clear target to turn over a million dollars in the next year, Julie and her colleagues are very focused on cementing the concept of recycling as a real business, as well as a good thing for the environment and the community.  Working with 20 suppliers around Nairobi, Ocean Sole buys flip flop waste for 30 Kenyan shillings per kilogram; this creates a trade for old flip flops and stops the waste at source, as all of Nairobi’s waterways flow back to the sea. This year, hoping to link the business back in with her roots in conservation, Julie started the Ocean Sole Foundation, ensuring that a percentage of profits goes back into marine conservation and into impacting people through training, education and awareness.  Through the foundation, Julie wants to start making simple bracelets that promote the ‘save the beaches’ message.  These will be made by women living along the coast, using recycled flip flops, and the aim is to get 4000 women involved and sell a million bracelets in...

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After all our hard work in Bore, and a couple of days beginning editing the video footage and writing up research, we relocated to Kwale County, a couple of hours from Mombasa, to spend 24 hours on safari in Shimba Hills National Reserve. A beautiful, green national park with the highest density of elephants in Kenya, the Reserve covers 300 square kilometres and is also an important habitat for primates, birds and sable antelope. While in the Reserve, we were lucky to spot several lone bull elephants in musth, herds of elephant browsing in the sun, buffalo, warthog, vultures and a whole host of other spectacular wildlife and...

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A trip to Bore


Posted By on Sep 6, 2013

Our trip to Bore to carry out the film and research work for the Reforestation Handshake began early on 4 September, driving from Kilifi to Bore with a brief stop in Marafa to visit one of the tree nurseries supported by Community Carbon Link.  Led by Alex Katana, a resident of Bore who had come to show us the route, we were able to see neem, mango and cashew saplings growing there, almost ready to be planted in shambas around Bore. On arrival in Bore, we were amazed to see two large fish ponds where last year there had been only scrub.  Filled with tilapia imported from Uganda, which are almost ready to harvest, these ponds will provide an important source of extra protein for Bore’s residents, and are also attracting frogs and snakes to the area.  After a brief tour of the ponds, wells and the drinking trough put in for cattle and wildlife, we set about the day’s work, splitting into film and research teams to complete tasks for Community Carbon Link and Size of Wales. The task for the research team was to interview women about their perceptions of the newly initiated Women’s Forestry Project (WFP) and find out whether it is benefiting them.  The WFP was set up to make the economic benefits of tree-planting in Bore more balanced; empowering women to gain their own income and the skills associated with tree planting.  The main crop currently being planted by members of the WFP is moringa, which can be used as a high-protein food or, when the leaves are ground up, has properties which can purify water.  In addition to this, many of the women have been given solar lanterns to enable them to work after dark without relying on expensive and dangerous kerosene or paraffin.   The women we spoke to were unanimously positive about the project, explaining that they felt empowered by having an income of their own, and were happy to be able to put it towards school fees and furthering their children’s opportunities.  Similarly, the solar lanterns have made a difference to children’s ability to study after dark and to make sure homework is completed.  While we were finding this out, the film team captured interviews with community members to demonstrate to donors in the UK the positive effect of their support. Another task for us all while at Bore was to gather some information and footage at Hell’s Kitchen, an escarpment which looks over Tsavo National Park and is the site for a proposed research and visitors’ centre which has recently been approved to receive a grant.  We used the beautiful surroundings...

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Today sees the start of the first ever Reforestation Handshake, a special 12 day project which will focus on the work being carried out in Bore, Kenya. Beginning with two days of orientation on the shores of the Indian Ocean in Mombasa, our seven volunteers will learn about reforestation, conservation, film making and blogging before we set off for Bore on Wednesday. Keep watching the blog for more updates as the project progresses, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see how we’re getting...

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