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Rwanda Mobilises Communities To Conserve River Sebeya Zone

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Various stake holders in Sebeya project are mobilising for long term conservation of River Sebeya zone that spans through districts of Rubavu, Ngororero, Rutsiro, and Nyabihu in Western Province.

During the rainy season, River Sebeya is known for turning into a destructive monster as water from the mountains bursts the river banks and washes away nearly everything along its path in these four districts. Lives are lost, crops washed away, houses destroyed and livestock also lost- this is how River Sebeya can get deadly.

However, the government of Rwanda through Rwanda Water Resources Board (RWB) came up with an initiative that aims at fixing the destructive nature of River Sebeya and turning it into an opportunity for those living within its catchment area.

In June 2020, the government launched Sebeya catchment protection and Landscape Restoration project through which communities in the river zone are mobilized, skilled and involved in the conservation efforts that will run up to 2022.

According to details, the project is financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) with technical support from the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Netherland Development Organization (SNV), and Rwanda Rural Rehabilitation Initiative (RWARRI).

The project aims at raising awareness on landscape restoration to the leaders and the population of Sebeya catchment, building capacity of targeted population on landscape restoration and water resources management practices, and enhancing  the socio-economic welfare of the targeted villages communities.

Uwizeye Belange, RWARRI Executive Director told Press that residents in the river catchment zone are being trained in the management and conservation of the catchment.

Thus, farmers in the catchment zone are being engaged to identify ways that may contribute to long-term River Sebeya conservation.

In its achievements, the project has managed to restore degraded land in the Sebeya catchment; Developed innovative financing mechanisms and value chains for improved livelihoods through ecological and economic benefits. It has also Implemented knowledge management systems for landscape restoration and integrated water resources management.

Details also indicate that this project has realised more than 1,500 ha of Landscape Restoration interventions including; afforestation, trenches in forest and tea lands, agroforestry and radical terraces and progressive terraces.

Officials also told media that through the project, trees have been planted along the roads on 1,900km, distributed and installed 518 Rain Water Harvesting tanks to community and institutions.

Statistics also show that 196 Farmer Promoters from the 4 Districts were capacitated while kitchen gardens have been established in 782 household across the catchment zone.

As Covid-19 pounded Rwanda and the rest of the world, this project had some solutions for the people in the Sebeya catchment zone, over 11,000 residents have secured jobs to restore the degraded landscapes.

Also 129 Cows were provided to the beneficiaries as part of livelihoods transformation. About 194 saving groups have been set up with more than 38 million Rwandan Francs.

The project plans to establish a Community Environment Conservation Fund (CECF) as an economic-empowering mechanism for communities to access credit and build a resource base to tackle poverty while restoring the land.

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Environment

Botswana Offers Hunters Rights To Shoot 287 Elephants

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About 287 elephants in Botswana are lined up for ‘dead’ after government announced Tuesday that it has offered hunting rigths.  

Botswana has the world’s biggest population of the animals- it is trying to breathe life into a hunting industry stalled by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The hunting season will begin April 6, with licenses to kill leopards, zebras and buffaloes also on sale, according to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.

The restart of hunting in Botswana last year, after a ban imposed by former President Ian Khama in 2014 was lifted, was largely thwarted by restrictions associated with the coronavirus.

With the disease still raging across large parts of the world, including southern Africa, hunting operators will face an uphill battle to maximize earnings.

Most hunters who visit the region traditionally come from the U.S., while a smaller number come from Spain, Eastern Europe and Russia.

“International clients such as those from the U.S. can come in under difficult conditions, but several European Union countries have lockdowns in place preventing travel to Botswana,” Debbie Peake, a spokeswoman for the Botswana Wildlife Producers Association, which includes hunt operators among its members, was quoted.

“The industry has put in place the strictest protocols in camps and among staff to protect clients.”Khama’s successor, Mokgweetsi Masisi, lifted the suspension, enraging conservationists who said the move would harm the $2 billion per annum photo safari industry.

The government argued that the country’s 130,000 elephants were destroying crops and occassionaly trampling villagers and their numbers needed to be kept in check.

Botswana’s neighbors including South Africa and Zimbabwe allow elephant hunting.

Bloomberg

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Environment

Msizi Tree Can Reinforce Rwanda’s Forests

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Eucalyptus and gervaria are the most common tree species grown across Rwanda mostly providing firewood, and construction and other wood work supplies.

With the growing demand for quality furniture products because of the rising elitist class, Land owners in Rwanda should consider adopting the Maesopsis eminii tree commonly known in Swahili as Msizi tree.

Msizi is a large tree found in East, Central and West Africa in rain forest and riverine forest. It grows to a height of up to 30 metres with a clear bole up to 10 m.

Apart from providing quality timber, this Msizi tree can be widely distributed in forest regrowth and secondary regrowth. It is remarkably long lived for a pioneer species, attaining over 150 years

In an experiment, Taarifa investigative team prepared a seedbed and planted 100 seeds on Christmas day, germination has just started this March. The seeds were picked from a giant Msizi tree in Rwamagana district, it is not known for how long the seeds had been on ground.

According to Agroforestry scientists, Msizi Seeds remain dormant for up to at least 200 days.

Germination is not triggered by light but appears to be affected by lunar cycles and enhanced soil humidity promotes early germination.

Timber: The sapwood is light coloured, heartwood brownish-olive to dark red, soft and light with a coarse grain. Wood density varies from 0.38 to 0.48 g/cubic cm.

The wood dries rapidly, but logs have a tendency to split during felling and storage.

The wood saws and machines easily, and its high absorbency makes it easy to treat with preservatives but difficult to finish.

Msizi wood is used in poles, boxes, crates, millwork, plywood, corestock and lumber construction.

Untreated wood is vulnerable to termites and decays in contact with the ground or continual moisture.

Lipids: Analyses of Msizi seed from Karnataka, India, indicate that they contain 40-50% of an edible oil, the main components of which are stearic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid.

Medicine: A strong purgative and diuretic can be made by soaking the bark in cold water. The root bark is beaten with clay and used to treat gonorrhoea.

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Environment

Desert Locusts Head To Uganda From Kenya

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Uganda is scheduled to brace for an attack by a swarm of desert locusts currently seen leaving Kenya towards its western neighoubour.

According to experts from the desert locust control organization of East Africa together with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) have warned that Uganda is under a possible second invasion of desert locusts. 

According to Everest Magara, the country manager of the Desert Locust control organization of East Africa, there are several swarms of locusts heading towards Uganda from Kenya.

Now, in a bid to avert the devastating effects in Uganda in case of any invasion, the Food and Agricultural Organisation has donated an assortment of desert locust fighting equipment worth U$11 million to the ministry of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, about three weeks ago, Kenya was attacked by desert locusts threatening farmers’ crops and pastures.

Last year Kenya faced its worst locust invasion in 70 years that threatened the food security of millions of people.

Experts say every day, each locust can eat its weight in vegetation daily and multiplies twenty-fold every three months. A swarm can easily eat as much food as 35,000 people in a single day and multiple two dozen times in three months.

“When we look at the magnitude of the problem, it’s much bigger than an outbreak and it’s an upsurge,” said Cyril Ferrand, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) East Africa resilience team leader.

“So that’s really the second biggest intermediate level of infestation, that is spreading across the entire region from Sudan to Somalia to Kenya,” Ferrand says.

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