Most of northern Kenya is very arid lowlands. In this desert, three mountains stand out: Mt Nyiro (2752m), Mt Kulal (2285m) and Mt Marsabit (1707m), each having a cloud forest. These cloud forests have unique plant and animals found nowhere else in the world: for example there is an endemic chameleon in each mountain (Trioceros marsabitensis, T. narraioca and Kinyongia asheorum, Mt Marsabit, Mt Kulal and Mt Nyiro respectively). These forests are also home to many endangered species, such as the tree Prunus africana (used against prostate cancer) and several animals including the African elephant and the Grevy’s zebra.
These forests provide water, firewood, poles, medicine, food and fodder to surrounding pastoralist communities. Samburu, Boran, Gabbra, Burgi, Rendile and Turkana are some of the tribes inhabiting the area. In these isolated rural poor areas, most families rely more on milk than meat for nutrition. They sell animals to get cash for other economic needs, and build herd sizes to accrue social status. Unfortunately, rural livelihoods in this area are particularly prone to uncertainties, mainly related to drought events and conflict like cattle rustling (herders stealing cows from other tribes).
Cloud forests, especially those found in drylands, are known to be particularly sensitive to predicted changes in climate. Population growth and large infrastructure development projects are other challenges for these forests’ conservation. Despite their ecological and social importance at a local and regional level, little is known about them. But we will soon change that!
This short film is a blink to these amazing ecosystems and their peoples.