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Sagalla caecilian conservation in Kenya’s Eastern Arc Mountains

  • Locations: Sagalla Hill (Taita Hills - Eastern Arc Mountains), Kenya
  • Active dates: 2011 - ongoing


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. To reconnect poverty alleviation to biodiversity conservation in Kenya’s Eastern Arc Mountains



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. Poor rainfall seasons continue to pose a major challenge to the biodiversity and the local people of this area, and have an impact on many things including tree planting.


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

Providing technical support visits to farmers, training bee-keeping and also training farmers to graft avocado seedlings.

Establish a support network and training in sustainable livelihoods

Training and supporting women’s groups in handicraft manufacture and marketing.

Create Community Forest Associations (CFAs) and Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) and locally led community groups.

Train community members, students and advisers in biodiversity conservation

Implement CEPA strategy

Implement the species action plans developed for the three Taita endemic species



6 tree nurseries are now in operation with involvement from locally led community groups

20 fishponds have been set up and 53 farmers have been trained in fish-farming during the project. An additional 70 farmers have been trained in bee-keeping, 13 farmers trained in carbon credits trading and 44 farmers trained in sustainable agriculture

The Mlilo Handicrafts groups were supplied with equipment and materials and have commenced production of various handicrafts, among them baskets, open shoes and other items

Farmer-to-farmer training took place in Taita where Tekida Bee-keepers group trained the Iyale Angamiza Jangwa Group on bee-keeping

46 community members were trained in biodiversity monitoring and materials/tools/equipment required for the same

The average annual income of participating households increased by at least 30% and diversified through inclusion of up to 6 additional sustainable alternative livelihood options

CEPA strategy activities were implemented including the participation of Project Officers in public meetings organised by community Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs to create awareness on environmental conservation and on the project activities

Species Action Plans (SAPs) have been developed and approved for the three Taita endemics (Taita Thrush, Taita Apalis and Sagalla Caecilian)

3 CFAs (Community Forest Associations) have been developed and registered

By the end of May 2017, over 290,519 seedlings had been raised and planted, which includes those planted by 184 farmers to enhance native forest connectivity between Iyale and Ngangao forests

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