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Sagalla Caecilian Conservation in Kenya


To protect and expand remnant natural habitat across Sagalla Hill for the area’s threatened biodiversity and local communities, stop further environmental destruction and degradation and improve/enhance natural resource management.

Image | Sagalla caecilian | © John Measey
Sagalla Hill (Taita Hills - Eastern Arc Mountains), Kenya
Species Background

Despite its close resemblance to an earth worm, the Sagalla caecilian is actually a limbless amphibian. It spends most of its life below ground and is adapted for a burrowing lifestyle – its eyes are covered by a protective skin, it has a strong, bony skull for pushing through the soil, and possesses sensory tentacles either side of its head to detect the chemical signals from its prey. The Sagalla caecilian is only found in one small area in the south-east of Kenya – Sagalla Hill – which is around half the size of Manhattan Island.

Map & Range
Species Threats

Past clearance of the native forest and increased agriculture on the steep slopes of the Sagalla Hill has resulted in erosion of the good, thick soils the caecilian needs to survive. Non-native Eucalyptus plantations may also be causing leeching of toxins and drying out of the soil, with negative implications for both local farming communities and the rich biodiversity of this area.

Project actions
  • Removing Eucalyptus plantations and replacing them with native vegetation to stabilise the soil and prevent further erosion and desiccation
  • Developing sustainable livelihoods (e.g. fish farming schemes) to provide an income to local farmers as an alternative to draining wetlands and riverine valleys
  • Improving farming techniques to increase soil fertility and decrease soil erosion
  • Restoring vegetation along stream banks and on steep slopes in order to minimise erosion and loss of important soil habitat
  • TTWF nursery established along with 7 other community based nurseries
  • Over 12,000 trees have been planted on Sagalla Hill by community groups
  • Training of 54 fish farmers took place in February-May 2011 and four subsequent farms constructed
  • Training of 22 farmers in appropriate farming techniques for soil and water conservation in February 2011
  • Ongoing awareness campaigns in local communities and schools
Future Actions
  • Continue planting of native tree species in water catchment areas.
  • Continue rehabilitation of riverine areas.
  • Initiate nature-based enterprises that will improve livelihoods while contributing to conservation.
  • Provide an outlet (assist in marketing) for products of nature-based enterprises
Project Leader
Project Collaborators
Related Media
In Kenya, the Sagalla Caecilian Conservation Project is carrying out habitat rehabilitation through planting of indigenous trees and vetiva grass in Sagalla Hill forest, to reduce soi...
The alternative livelihoods project to secure a future for he Sagalla caecilian never stops... Tree planting The weather has favoured tree planting this month, enabling us to plan...
James Mwang'ombe is the project manager for the Sagalla Caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni) conservation project in Kenya. One of the projects activities is the planting of indigenous trees ...

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