Biodiversity & Conservation
This programme was established to capitalise on opportunities provided by the mine for improving conservation outcomes.
The Kwale Mine lies in close proximity to forests and remnant forest patches that constitute the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa Biodiversity Hotspot, which support high biodiversity and endemic plant species.
In collaboration with specialists from the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service, Base Titanium regularly participates in habitat surveys to improve knowledge of the region’s rich biodiversity. Through this programme, new species have been recorded and insights gained into the life histories and status of threatened species.
Some Of Our Success Stories
The Shimba Hills Reed Frog
Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus, known only from a small area around the Shimba Hills in coastal Kenya is classified as Endangered according to the IUCN Global Red List. It is inherently at risk because of its limited range and is affected by agricultural expansion, increasing human settlement and declining wetlands. By constructing the Mukurumudzi Dam, with its fringing vegetation, and establishing and restoring wetlands, a significantly increased population of this amphibian is evident.
A medium sized, leguminous tree,Gigasiphon macrosiphon was first described from Tanzania in 1915, but not recognised in Kenya until 1957 near Mrima Hill in Kwale County, despite it being recorded in Kaya Muhaka in 1919. Subsequently, in Tanzania a small population was found in the Rondo forest in the south east of the country and two individuals in the Udzungwa Mountains.
The species is under severe threat of extinction. It is placed on the IUCN Global Red List as Critically Endangered and in 2012 included in IUCN’s Special Survival Commission list of the 100 most threatened animals, plants and fungi.
In 2017 a group of 10 mature trees was found on Mrima Hill and, more recently, a healthy population was discovered in the Gongoni Forest Reserve adjacent to the Kwale Mine, from which seed was collected for propagation in Base Titanium’s tree nursery.
Great success has since been achieved in propagating this species and over 1,400 individuals are now planted out in the biodiversity corridor.
The Changamwe Caecilian
Boulengerula changamwensis is a small wormlike soil burrowing amphibian found in southern Kenya (Changamwe and the Shimba Hills) and Malawi. Classified as Endangered by the IUCN Global Red List, this rare species prefers forested areas and moist soils rich in organic matter. Through regular surveys a number of specimens were found in the Shimba Hills, indicating that it is relatively common in this protected reserve. Specimens have also been found whilst undertaking routine herpetofaunal monitoring in the fringing vegetation of the Mukurumudzi Dam.
The Critically Endangered Euphorbia tanaensis is found near the Tana River in eastern Kenya. Occurring in Witu Forest, Lamu County, it is one of the rarest trees in the world with only 4 mature individuals known in the wild. It grows to nearly 30m and usually protrudes above the forest canopy. Repeated attempts to locate this tree in other forests have failed and there is no sign of regeneration or young seedlings near the mature trees. Its IUCN Red List classification is Critically Endangered and it is also included in the list of the 100 most threatened animals, plants and fungi compiled in 2012 by IUCN’s Special Survival Commission.
Following the successes achieved in propagating other species in Base Titanium’s nursery, we acquired material to try propagating the species and now have one 2-metre tall young tree planted out in our arboretum with several more cuttings struck in the nursery. It is planned to eventually re-introduce them to Witu Forest.