Kenyan conservationist shortlisted for Tusk award

Serah Munguti
Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa finalist, Serah Munguti. Photo: Tusk

Tana River Delta conservationist, Serah Munguti, is a finalist for this year’s Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa.

This award is given to an individual who has been judged to be emerging as a leading conservationist in recognition of their outstanding contribution to, and considerable success, in their chosen field.

Sponsored by Land Rover, the winner of the three finalists will receive a beautiful trophy, as well as a grant of £20,000. The two runners up each receive a grant of £7,500.

Serah Munguti, Tusk Award for Conservation in Africa finalist

Serah was raised in Machakos and worked tirelessly to win a place at Moi University to study conservation after developing a passion for wildlife from watching birds on her grandmother’s farm.

After University, Serah joined Nature Kenya as a programme assistant. She was promoted to become advocacy and communications manager before winning a scholarship in 2005 and completing an MSc in water and coastal management at Cadiz University.

Since 2007, she has spent her time advocating locally, nationally and internationally for the conservation of the Tana River Delta in Kenya.

The Delta is a 130,000-hectare wetlands area rich in natural resources and supports two endemic primates, the endangered Tana River Colobus and Tana River Crested Mangabey, 350 bird species and internationally important populations of 22 water birds.

It also provides a migration corridor for elephants from Tsavo National Park.

However, despite this natural wealth, the 102,000 population are amongst the poorest in Kenya with 77% existing on less than US$ 1.9 a day.

When Serah started working in the Delta, communities and biodiversity were seriously threatened by land grabs for large-scale agriculture projects with conversion of the region seemingly inevitable.

Serah spearheaded the Land Use Plan (LUP) and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) throughout the Tana Delta area in 2015, which won the 2016 UK’s Royal Town Planning Institute’s International Award for Planning Excellence.

She has also fronted community livelihoods projects in the Tana Delta supporting farmers, fishermen, and pastoralists to pilot sustainable production methods. Communities earned in excess of Ksh 20 million from crop production, honey, fish farming, cattle dips and milk marketing over a two-year period.

Serah spends her time developing relationships between people and biodiversity, particularly governance of natural resources, empowering local conservation groups to claim rights to manage resources sustainably and advocates for changes to policies and plans to support them.

Nature matters to all of us. It is the food we eat, the medicine we use, the fuel we use and the clothes we wear. We should all do our part in conserving the natural environment. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to future generations.

Serah also sits on various national and international working groups including Kenya Wetlands Forum and the BirdLife Africa Sites and Casework Taskforce. She also chairs Afri Water, a regional NGO group.

Tusk Awards 2017

The 2017 Tusk Award finalists will be recognised at a gala ceremony in Cape Town on the 4th of October, hosted by Derek Watts, presenter of Carte Blanche, South Africa’s longest running investigative journalism television programme.