A Bird Guide by&for the Daasanach people of Kenya

Help the Daasanach people to edit their own Bird Guide!

The Daasanach are one of the pastoralist tribes inhabiting the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana (northern Kenya), one of the most important wetlands in East Africa, which serves as a flyway and stopover site for many Palearctic migrant birds. Although the lake has been declared as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), the area has remained unexplored and unattended. The Global Change and Conservation team (GCC, University of Helsinki ) conducted a rapid assessment of the area in 2016, noting astonishing levels of bird diversity. This diversity has been poorly mapped and monitored, remaining one of the large gaps in large-scale bird mapping initiatives such as Kenya Bird Map. The GCC group consequently initiated a long-term integrative and collaborative project together with the Daasanach indigenous community to uncover the ecology, dynamics and future prospects of the birds of Lake Turkana and its surroundings.
The Daasanach have shown great passion for ornithology, and hold a vast amount of bird traditional knowledge. These characteristics are an asset to complement the existing knowledge for the area, if adequately assisted with bibliographic resources, largely lacking in the area (e.g. ornithological guides, translation of bird names from local language into Latin/English). In addition, given the immensely rich bird diversity and the exceptional number of endemic species in the region, we believe that the area has lots of potential to develop ornithological ecotourism in the long term. The Daasanach community and their authorities have long been interested in developing such tourism in the area to support alternative livelihoods. This interest has motivated a joint venture with the researchers from the University of Helsinki to profile the area as an outstanding destination for birdwatchers. The first outcome of this collaboration was the creation of the first Bird Club of Illeret Ward in March 2019, under the initiative of the Daasanach community and with the ongoing support from the GCC team. 

A Bird Club is broadly defined as a self-organized group of people who like birds, who gather to observe them regularly, who want to learn together about birds and how their numbers change in time, and who aspire to contribute to a global understanding of bird populations. One of the first activities of the Bird Club, as decided by their members, will consist in developing a guide of the birds of the region, so that the Bird Club members can continue learning about the birds of Illeret and encouraging an interest in the conservation of birds and their habitats among the different communities in and around the area. Helping the Daasanach Bird Club members to produce this guide will contribute to consolidate the Bird Club by increasing the capacity building of its members and encouraging ornithologists from other parts of the world to visit this remote, unknown and bird-diverse corner of Kenya. 

As decided by the members of the Bird Club, the Bird Guide will include the main species of birds found in the region of Illeret, with information on their habitat, diet, phenology, and conservation status. Other species that hold important cultural values for the Daasanach community will be also found in the guide. In addition, because birds feature prominently in many of the proverbs, folktales and songs of the Daasanach people, the guide will incorporate this local knowledge based on the material collected by the members of the Bird Club. The content of the guide will be in both Daasanach and English (with species names in Latin) and it will be very visual so that it can reach as many people as possible.

All the work that we do in relation to this project is completely voluntary and according to our past experience, it has been difficult to find the resources for editing local book materials such as this one. With this crowdfunding campaign, we hope that you can help us to fund both the edition of the guide (professional editor), the translation of the proverbs, folktales and songs from Daasanach into English (a member from the Daasanach community with enough experience to carry out the translation), and the printing costs of 200 copies to distribute between the members of the Bird Club and the eight different Daasanach communities of Illeret Ward. The work is expected to start next October 2019.

About us:

Ambrose Awosio Ajiko is a member of the Daasanach community (Watalii, Illeret Ward) who is currently living in Thika (close to Nairobi) to pursue his medical studies at the Kenya School of Medical Science and Technology. He is a regular collaborator of GCC and he is involved in several research projects taking place in the area. Ambrose is very passionate about birds and he loves birdwatching with his colleagues, describing the species, and learning about their ecological niches and migratory routes.


Job Guol Naasak
is a member of the Daasanach community (Watalii, Illeret Ward) who does a prominent job as a translator and has been closely collaborating with GCC in different undertakings developed together with the local communities. He has a genuine interest in birds and conservation, and has participated in several birdwatching excursions with the members of the Bird Club. At the moment, he is saving money to start his studies in environmental management in a near future.


Mar Cabeza
is an established PI at the University of Helsinki leading the Global Change and Conservation team. Most of the research projects that Mar currently leads fall under the conservation effectiveness umbrella, by which she attempts to address both ultimate and proximate causes of success and failure of conservation actions. She is especially interested in capacity building in developing countries.


Daniel Burgas
has been collaborating on various endeavours with GCC, from disentangling effects of habitat change on birds in Madagascar to wildlife conservation in Kenya. Although his background has a strong bird component, he is moved by biodiversity at large. Conservation biology and applied ecology resonate in his research. Community ecology and optimal wildlife monitoring are other topics that draw him in.


Sara Fraixedas’
current research project is focused on wetland ecosystems. She aims to produce policy-relevant knowledge for the conservation and sustainable use of European wetlands, thereby improving our indicators to track progress towards different international sustainability goals. She is also interested in capacity-building initiatives in developing countries as well as fundamental characteristics of bird ecology in remote and little explored areas. 

You can have a look at this project here: https://sibiloi.wordpress.com/projects/ 

We will upload the electronic version of the guide in this same site!


Many thanks for helping us to push this project forward… you are wonderful! With your donations, you are contributing to conserve the bird biodiversity in Lake Turkana and its surroundings!
  • Albert Burgas 
    • €40 
    • 2 mos
  • María Garteiz 
    • €50 
    • 22 mos
  • Francesc Kirchner 
    • €30 
    • 23 mos
  • Sara Fraixedas 
    • €56 
    • 23 mos
  • Sara Fraixedas 
    • €682 
    • 23 mos
See all


Sara Fraixedas 
Helsinki, Etelä-Suomi
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