Geographers and biologists from the University of Helsinki have, for years, studied and surveyed the surroundings of the Taita Research Station in Kenya. The University recently released a map of the nearby wildlife sanctuary, and in early March it donated the map to local users.
“The map will be useful when planning land use and will help tourists move around the sanctuary without harming the sensitive habitats,” explains the Station’s director, Professor Petri Pellikka.
The map will also provide assistance to researchers touring the area.
“Local cooperation is of key importance to the Stations’ research,” says Pellikka. “It enables us to follow the University’s principles of global responsibility, of which the new map is the latest example.”
The LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary is also based on a community approach.
“The Sanctuary was formed out of three ranches in 2001 with funding from the European Union,” Pellikka explains. “The income from entrance fees and lodging goes to the local community.”
Lions and an orienteering champ
The new map is based on the Taita Research Station’s vast collections of positioning data. The required fieldwork and technical implementation were carried out by Mårten Boström, a doctoral student at the Department of geosciences and geography, whose terrain and mapping skills are well-known to Finnish sports spectators. Boström was crowned World Champion in orienteering in 2013.
The digital version of the map can be used for navigation with a GPS receiver. GPS also comes in handy when documenting the movement of lions and other animals around the reserve.
How are we doing with water?
At the map release ceremony, the Taita-Taveta county Governor John Mruttu, the county’s Deputy Governor Mary Ndiga Kibuka, who is in charge of land matters, as well as the University of Helsinki’s Chancellor Thomas Wilhelmsson all emphasised the long-term study and development of the area.
In Mruttu’s opinion, this research provides valuable information about the sufficiency of scarce water resources, among other things. “GPS also makes it a lot easier to evaluate the county’s natural resources and to plan operations,” says Ndiga Kibuka.
At the ceremony, Petri Pellikka handed over the map to the wildlife sanctuary, and Professor Jouko Rikkinen, chair of the research station’s advisory board, signed a cooperation agreement with LUMO.