John Gitiri – volunteering with A Rocha Kenya

My name is John Gitiri and my home is the Kinangop plateau in central Kenya and I am currently an intern with the Ornithology Section of the National Museums of Kenya. I have always developed my interest in conservation and in particular I have focused in learning more about birds and wetlands areas.

A Rocha Kenya is a Christian organisation which has been involved with conservation for more than decade in Kenya with its offices in Watamu on the north Kenya coast. I was introduced to ARK through Nature Kenya’s coast manager, Francis Kagema, based at Gede Ruins in October 2011, which after a few weeks they accepted me as an intern and I stayed until April 2012.

I found my internship to be very worthwhile – particularly since I had not much not to do by then. My stay at Mwamba was helpful and wonderful and included activities ranging from Bible study, fieldwork, office work and other volunteer tasks – I liked it!

My goals while interning with ARK were to learn more about birds as a major tool of conservation as well as improve my interaction with different people from different cultures and from different parts of the world – and most of all to grow in my Christian life.

Experience with a well-known Kenyan scientist/ ringer, Colin Jackson, as well as with other experienced ARK staff, volunteers and guests opened mental and physical doors for me. It expanded my knowledge in different working fields.

…me with an Emerald-spotted Wood Dove on my shoulder after it has been ringed

While volunteering I developed a strong interest in bird ringing after watching CJ ring and after sometime he started teaching me more about it.  After getting some ringing exposure at Mwamba, I was blessed to get a sponsorship to do the Introductory Bird Ringing Course that was being run at Mwamba with CJ after my internship ended. With the completion of my internship, I had some time to go back home to the Kinangop and do a couple of things with the conservation site support group back at home (Friends of Kinangop Plateau) before I got another internship opportunity with National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

The group of trainee ringers (I’m at the front next to Andrew) in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest on one of the drier days.

At the Nairobi Museum I am involved with bird ringing every Tuesday morning with the Nairobi Ringing Group and I had heard about the annual ringing of thousands of migrants at Ngulia in Tsavo West National Park and I thought of  requesting for a chance to participate and contribute where I could. Through A Rocha Kenya / National Museums of Kenya I got the chance which was very educational and I learnt more about migration as well as meeting with famous author/ ringer David. J. Pearson author of Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. I am looking forward to do a lot more ringing in future!! I sincerely appreciate ARK for their endless support and following how am doing from what I gained from them. If you have a chance to volunteer with ARK, from my experience, I recommend it’s worth it.

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