International students in the TROPIMUNDO exchange program have lauded locals in Arabuko Sokoke forest in Gede, Kilifi County, for their vast knowledge of tropical biodiversity and forest conservation.

During presentations conducted on Thursday, March 28, 2024, at KEFRI offices in Gede, the students termed Messrs Geoffrey Mashauri and Jonathan Mwachongo as ”living encyclopedias” for their extensive knowledge of animal, plant and bird species in the Arabuko Sokoke forest reserve.

The students have camped at the Arabuko forest for the last 10 days for practical lessons on plant diversity assessment, a survey of the Aviafuna of Arabuko Sokoke forest and camera trap surveys.

Addressing the students and dons from the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM), the Coast Regional Director Kenya of Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) Dr Linus Chesoli Wekesa disclosed that Arabuko Sokoke forest reserve has been rated the second top reserve in Africa and 50th globally for its abundant biodiversity.

“This is a home to 230 bird species and 600 plant species. Birds play a very critical role in pollination and seed dispersal,” Dr Wekesa stated.

The regional director urged the TROPIMUNDO students to be brand ambassadors for Kenya by highlighting good stories about the country. He called on the young scholars to utilize their time well to make a difference in life.

Dr Cosmus Munga, a local coordinator of the TROPIMUNDO program, was impressed by the creativity demonstrated by the students during presentations. He emphasized the importance of hard work and professionalism to excel in academia.

The 10 students were enrolled at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels Belgium studying the Erasmus Mundus joint Master Degree in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO) offered by a total of 13 Universities across the globe. This is a full semester with course work, practical experience, fieldwork and examination.

The program involves students pursuing a Master of Science in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystem in Belgium and those pursuing a Master of Science in Aquaculture in TUM.

The 10 students are from Colombia, Netherlands, United States of America (USA), Brazil, France, Germany, Belgium, Honduras, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tags: TUM