Zoological Research ›› 2016, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (3): 159-166.doi: 10.13918/j.issn.2095-8137.2016.3.159

Special Issue: Amphibians & reptiles

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Conservation education and habitat restoration for the endangered Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni) in Sagalla Hill, Kenya

Patrick K. MALONZA   

  1. Herpetology Section, National Museums of Kenya, 40658-00100 Nairobi, KENYA
  • Received:2016-02-20 Revised:2016-05-10 Online:2016-05-18 Published:2016-05-18
  • Contact: Patrick K. MALONZA E-mail:kmalonza@museums.or.ke
  • Supported by:

    This study was supported by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ) on the education (project number 11251778) and awareness work by US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) project award number F11AP00359 on habitat restoration work

Abstract: The Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni) is an endangered amphibian endemic to Sagalla Hill in the Taita Hills. This burrowing worm-like species prefers soft soil with high moisture and organic matter. The major threats to the Sagalla caecilian are soil erosion caused by steep slopes, bare ground and water siphoning/soil hardening from exotic eucalyptus trees. The purpose of this study was to get a better understanding of the local people's attitude towards this species and how they can contribute to its continued conservation through restoration of its remaining habitat. In this study, it was found that 96% of Sagalla people are aware of the species, its habits and its association with soils high in organic matter. It was also found that 96% of Sagalla people use organic manure from cow dung in their farms. Habitat restoration through planting of indigenous plants was found to be ongoing, especially on compounds of public institutions as well as on private lands. Although drought was found to be a challenge for seedlings development especially on the low elevation sites, destruction by livestock especially during the dry season is also a major threat. In this study, it was recommended that any future habitat restoration initiative should include strong chain-link fencing to protect the seedlings from livestock activity. Recognizing that the preferred habitats for the species are in the valleys, systematic planting of keystone plant species such as fig trees (Ficus) creates the best microhabitats. These are better than general woodlots of indigenous trees.