Biodiversity & Conservation
The Biodiversity and Conservation Programme was established to exploit opportunities for improving conservation outcomes provided by the Kwale Project.
The Kwale Mine is located in close proximity to forests and forest patches that constitute part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot. They comprise small fragmented forest remnants rich in biodiversity. Plant, reptile and amphibian surveys undertaken in partnership with the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Services and the Kenya Forest Services as part of the Monitoring Programme have established new distribution records for a number of species.
Working with these and other partner organisations, Base Titanium aims to improve biodiversity outcomes in the region. Two notable success stories involve the endangered Shimba Hills Reed Frog (Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus) and a leguminous tree species, Gigasiphon macrosiphon.
The Shimba Hills Reed Frog is endemic to a small area around the Shimba Hills in coastal Kenya. It is inherently at risk because of its limited range and habitat destruction through agricultural expansion, thus its IUCN Red List Threatened Species classification. Through construction of the Mukurumudzi Dam, which provides a suitable fringing environment for the frog and wetland restoration, the Kwale Project has significantly increased suitable habitat with an increase in numbers evidently reflecting an early conservation success.
Gigasiphon macrosiphon is a rare, medium sized leguminous tree. It was first described from Tanzania in 1915, but not officially recorded in Kenya until 1957 at Mrima Hill, although it had been reported in 1919 from Kaya Muhaka. Attempts were made in the 1980s to locate the tree at Mrima, but without success. It was eventually rediscovered in Muhaka in 1987. Realising that this beautiful tree is extremely rare, efforts were made to rediscover it in Tanzania. Repeated searches in the East Usambaras proved fruitless, but eventually a small population was found in the Rondo forest in SE Tanzania and at a new locality with only 2 individuals in the Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Tanzania. A healthy population was also discovered in Gongoni Forest Reserve near the mine. Severely restricted distributions and the small size population sizes pointed to the species being under severe threat of extinction, prompting its placement on the IUCN Global Red List as Critically Endangered. We are now prioritising propagation of the tree as part of our Rare and Threatened Flora Propagation Research Programme.
Establishment of a Biodiversity Corridor
Work commenced on the establishment of a corridor in December 2013 to bridge several remnant patches of indigenous forest within the mining lease to the Gongoni Forest. Over 10,000 trees propagated in the nursery, including more than 1,500 of species classified as being of conservation significance, have been planted in the designated corridor.