Top Five Reasons to study Monkeys in Kenya with GVI
Everyone has probably heard the expression, “I want to see ________ before I die!” Some are lucky enough to achieve their goal and do whatever it is they aspire to do. Others might fall a little short. But have you ever heard anyone say, “I want to see ________ before it dies”? Many won’t think of it this way but, unfortunately, this statement may be more realistic than the previous one, at least when it comes to nature and the environment. We all desire to see the beautiful environments, animals, and plants that we see in the pictures, but soon the pictures may be the only place we can see these things. There are the lucky few who have jobs that require them to travel to such amazing places (scientists for example) but for the ordinary folk, traveling isn’t that easy. Places such as mangrove forests, tropical forests, and some marine ecosystems are being destroyed due to human activity and pollution and soon these places will only be seen in the history books. That’s why organizations like GVI are so unique. While their main goal is to prevent the destruction of such beautiful and important ecosystems, they also give ordinary people an experience like no other and enable these people to achieve their dream of seeing something before they/it dies while trying to prevent their destruction.
So what exactly can you experience at GVI that you couldn’t be able to experience anywhere else or experience something that might not be here in the near future? Here at GVI Kenya there are many experiences that you can only get here. The terrestrial program is a great example of this. Volunteers spend much of their time going into the forest and identifying animals, seeing things that not many people can say that they have. With that being said, here are the top 5 reasons as to why GVI Kenya is the ultimate “see-it-before-its-gone” experience:
5.) Mangroves Forests
What is a mangrove forest you ask? A mangrove forest is one that has learned to do something very unique: They grow in salt water. They are the only forest biome that is able to do this, which is why they are so important and unique. They house numerous different species of plant and animal life and also assist humans. Mangrove forests act as a buffer against bad storms and very high tides to help protect the coast and all of its inhabitants, including humans! These are extremely important; yet mangrove forests are becoming fewer and fewer due to human activity and the creation of new buildings where these mangroves used to live. All along the Shimoni coast you can see these amazing biomes and all of their life!
Some of the forest ecosystems we research are hotspots. A hotspot is categorized as a place that contains a certain percentage of endemic species and has lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation. An endemic species is one that is only found in that area so if that area is destroyed, so is that species. Unfortunately, the forests located around Shimoni qualify as a biodiversty hotspot. There are only 25 in the world and the Shimoni forest in Kenya is part of the smallest and most threatened one! We get to actually witness one of these amazing places! We see numerous endemic species such as the white headed dwarf gecko and Fischer’s Turaco. Being able to experience this hotspot first-hand makes this place priceless.
Ever wondered what a scientist actually does when he goes into the forest? GVI gives volunteers a once in a lifetime experience actually helping to conduct research. Every day when we go out, we execute a diverse range of surveys; surveys used by experienced conservationists. For aspiring scientists (like me!) this is something that looks great on your resume!
2.) Up close and personal to the animals
While looking at a monkey behind glass at a zoo is all fine and dandy, seeing a monkey swinging from the branches or carrying their precious babies is a remarkable sight. The first day we went into the forest we saw monkeys! You see them almost every single day when in the forest and get to watch them be the wonderful free creatures that they are. And they aren’t the only animals there. There are numerous colorful tropical birds, small mammals, and amphibians that you get to see in the wild! I know that many would probably be nervous to go into the wild with so many critters around but let me assure you, they won’t come near you. Unlike the zoos or the human-raised animals, there are free and wild. They really don’t want anything to do with you. They just sit around for your entertainment then leave when they feel like your time is over. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
1.) Speaking of beauty…
HELLO!! You are surrounded by amazing exotic plants and animals in one of the most beautiful places on earth! Pictures can’t do the forests justice but they sure do give you a better look at what you could be doing. The huge wild flowers growing all around you. The amazing birds coming and landing on a massive ancient tree. Watching the baby Colobus monkey watch you curiously from a far tree. This place is the epitome of beauty, of paradise.
So there you have it. The top 5 reasons why GVI Kenya forest program is like no other. It will give you lasting memories on many things that may not be able to be seen in the future. And while GVI is doing its best to prevent this from happening, they can only spread the word so much. Volunteers are what help to make the difference. They get to see this amazing place in person and realize how precious this place actually is. They realize that it is worth saving. So now instead of saying how badly you want to do something before it or you is gone, how about saying the most well-known GVI volunteer phrase, “I can’t wait to do that AGAIN!”
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