Sharpes Longclaw (Maxronyx sharpie) is classified as Endangered. The preferred habitat for this highly specialized bird species is quickly diminishing. One of the major threats is loss of habitat due to change of land use. In 2000, only 50% of 77,000 ha of the Kinangop Plateau Grassgrands remained with only 58% of these suitable as habitat for Sharpe’s Longcalw.
In 2002, Kariuki Ndang’ang’a predicted that, by 2010, only 20% of the grasslands in the Kinangop Highland Grasslands IBA would be remaining.
As I carried out the project, I realized that the pressure to the grasslands and therefore Sharpe's Longclaw is increasing alarmingly. There is very high human population increase (Between 1999 and 2012, there was a ~54% growth) leading to a huge change in land use (conversation of grasslands to crop cultivation and settlements). It was also clear that there is increased need for further urgent action to secure some future for the species. Buying of nature reserve and managing them optimally for the grassland is the best option. However it needs substantial investment ~ $ 94,117 (for a 10 acre reserve; this can hold 10 individuals- Density is 1.02 individuals/ha. Leasing a grassland of the same size for 10 years would cost an average~ $ 23,529. The most current estimates of Sharpe's Longclaw (2000) put the number of individuals between 10,000 and 20,000. The project funding will help us have a more up to date estimate of the population to help informed decision making. From the preliminaries, the population in Kinangop is far below the previous estimate. Being the strong hold, it would help appreciate that the global population is equally getting smaller.
Based on the assessment from January to June 2013, of the approx. 77,000 ha Kinangop Plateau (Important Bird Area: IBA “Kinangop Grasslands” KE004), a surface area of only about 2000 ha could be considered to be actual grassland habitat by now. This corresponds to less than 3%of the region’s total surface area. Of this, only about 1000 ha could be considered large enough to hold at least one pair of Sharpe's Longclaw (~2 ha). In addition, in many places one could recognize that, based on neighbouring, freshly ploughed surfaces, that even the grasslands still extant are increasingly strongly endangered. The surfaces found are distributed over the entire plateau, but in many regions only very small parcels of grassland complex still remain. A total of 69 farms were visited in the entire Kinangop IBA. The grasslands were mainly identified through the help of local knowledge of the remaining grasslands. General search for additional grasslands were done on the areas that were not fully known by the local assistants. A total of 853.04 ha were mapped. Considering that we found a density of 1.02 Individual Sharpe's Longclaw per hactare, we therefore estimate that there could be a total of 875 individuals. Kinangop being the stronghold of the endangered species globally, and considering that the other areas are also subjected to pressure, there is therefore every need to put more energy in conservation of these highland grasslands. Working with farmers who own the grasslands through giving them incentives would help retain the remaining grasslands. Acquiring grasslands through buying and leasing grasslands would also be very helpful. The project helped get a clear estimate of the number of individuals in Kinangop which can also give an indication of the National (which is also the global population). The remaining grasslands were also mapped and this would be used as a baseline for monitoring of the trend of the habitat and the population.
Project 12254632 location - Kenya, Africa