William Holden Wildlife Foundation
 
 

The Education Center is located in Nanyuki, in East Africa, 3 1/2 hours north of Nairobi by car, adjacent to the famous Mt. Kenya Safari Club and the Mt. Kenya Wildlife Conservancy.

The Education Center offers on-site demonstrations of conservation through green methods that result in alternatives to habitat destruction. We offer lectures and programs featuring subjects relevant to the needs of local people including: solar heating of water, composting of biodegradable refuse, fuel efficient stoves for cooking, solar ovens, a tree nursery producing fast-growing indigenous trees which provide fuel and fodder to enrich the soil with nitrogen, and a trout pond.

The center also offers overnight accommodations for groups of up to 50 visitors housed in youth hostel style dormitory tents. There are male and female shower and toilet facilities powered by solar energy and kitchen wash-up and storage areas. We feature fuel efficient cookers powered by a small amount of fuel able to amply serve the requirements of our guests.

In East Africa humans and wild animals constantly compete for habitat. In an effort to demonstrate alternatives to traditional agriculture on a small piece of land that is economically viable, conserves soil and has minimal environmental impact, we created a trout farm prototype. The adjacent river is a source of irrigation for the pond and the cash crop is harvested twice a year. This plot would otherwise become eroded and unusable for man or beast in short order without reconceptualizing its usage. We use a six-wheel drive vehicle capable of accommodating 18 students for field trips and visits to the adjacent Animal Orphanage and Game Ranch to study and observe the 37 species of East African wildlife on the ranch property. There are additional 4-wheel drive vehicles for smaller groups and visiting guest lecturers when necessary. Trips to the surrounding forest and lectures by the forestry officer are part of the course study, as are discussions of regional problems conducted frequently by guest lecturers from the wildlife departments of all the National Parks. Some of these field trips are conducted on foot accompanied by our resident llamas used to porter water and food for the groups. Llamas are the camels of South America and our prolific herd was the first of its kind in Sub Saharan Africa thanks to the brothers of our late Vice Chairman Don Hunt who gifted us with the original four. Our llamas also provide a dramatic example of biodiversity.

Education Center Library

Our education center also houses an extensive library / video  and lecture hall. The library offers the students an opportunity to further explore the world around them in books and on film.

Trout Pond

Fish farming is a type of farming that can provide a source of income from a relatively small piece of land which would otherwise be productive only for an individual's needs. Since we had the land and the river adjacent, we could create a fish farm to demonstrate how one can use nature but not abuse nature. We only borrow the water to irrigate the pond and return it unpolluted to its source. We buy fingerlings from a nearby fish hatchery and feed them up to market size, thus creating a cash crop enabling us to teach sound financial and ecological methods.

Tree Nursery

There is no doubt that deforestation is one of the most devastating environmental consequences of this century. The simple solution is to plant more trees! In that light, we constructed a tree nursery, and students are shown two types of seedbeds and taught methods of sowing and caring for seedlings. Since the nursery was established in 1989, the Education Center has provided hundreds of seedlings to students from all over Kenya to take home, as well as to plant at the center for our own fuel source. We have also planted trees in areas close to the center suffering from soil erosion. The primary tree grown is Sesbania Sesban, a fast growing shade-type tree requiring reasonable watershed unlike the Blue Gum or Eucalyptus so commonly considered the best fast grower, which requires on average several hundred gallons of water per day during its maximum growth period. Sesbania Sesban can also be used for intercropping in agroforestry, and fodder for animal food since it is a legume.

Bellerive Cooker

The Bellerive Foundation is a non-profit organization operating in Kenya, and designed to assist people in protecting their environment by conserving natural resources while making most efficient use of these resources. The traditional source of cooking in Kenya is firewood. Due to the rapid population growth, the forest areas have suffered greatly from the unrestricted cutting. Without trees to hold the topsoil, erosion can carry it away so that pastures become unproductive and agricultural land is ruined. Therefore, by burning less firewood fewer trees will be cut, preventing the incumbent problems. To address this growing need, The Bellerive Foundation came up with the Bellerive Cooker, a remarkable cooking system. How does this amazing stove work? A stainless steel pot is inserted in the stove surrounded by fire bricks that conduct the heat around the pot, the heat is generated by the fire below, the food cooks quickly without burning the pot and the chimney conducts the fumes away from the cooking area. The stove can also serve as an oven so it provides every cooking need while demonstrating good conservation of fuel. The stove is built to last and only requires yearly maintenance of fire bricks, and with proper usage the stainless steel pots should last for years.

Model Garden

Our model garden teaches companion kitchen gardening and crop rotation, making an excellent lesson for efficient land use on small plots.

Permaculture Wetlands Project

With a grant from the J.L. Foundation, the Education Center has a permaculture wetlands project. The purpose of permacultre is multidimensional, at the same time as it conserves water by completely recycling grey water, it provides for wetlands which attract many forms of insect and bird life formerly lost due to over use of insecticides. By employing nature's own methods and translating them to adapt to a given site and source, water recovery can be accomplished at an astonishing rate.

Bio-Gas System

At the Education Center we have been using a bio-gas system as a source of supplemental electric energy and high-grade fertilizer since 1995 - the good news is that the rest of the world seems to be catching up. Recent articles in major newspapers and journals suggest that the sheer volume of manure produced by today's livestock 'factories' has finally reached critical mass. A single pig farm can produce as much as 70,000 tons of manure which not only has an unbearable stench, but threatens to pollute waterways and has been linked to serious health problems in neighboring communities. In years to come, improper manure disposal will not only increase pollution, but is a waste of a potentially valuable resource. Although bio-gas produces only half the energy of natural gas, benefits to the environment are not only undeniable but may be critical to our survival. As with all other alternative technologies more efficient methods will emerge - it wants only our willingness to try. Bio-gas is a gas mixture of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide - which is created when sewage or manure is fermented in the absence of oxygen. The material that remains in the digester after fermentation can be used as an organic fertilizer. During processing, organic substances are decomposed by microorganisms and in addition to manure, such materials as harvest surplus, vegetable oil remains, household organic waste and grass can be used to produce clean energy which contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases. It's a win/win all around.
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