Celebrating A Rocha’s 40th anniversary

Thanks to the wonders of Zoom, on 14 September over 400 of us gathered from 26 countries, spanning the globe from New Zealand to Nigeria, Singapore to Sweden, Algeria to Korea and many places in between. Some of us were new to A Rocha; over 80 had been involved for over two decades, a significant number since the very beginning. We’d encountered A Rocha through friends, books, churches and conferences, through holidays near A Rocha centres, through universities and colleges and in the case of one person, because of a bumper sticker!   

Over the hour-long event, we heard from Peter Harris about A Rocha’s beginnings, remembered those we have lost along the way and celebrated all manner of highlights, from work with the Atewa Slippery Frog to the burgeoning network of A Rocha Friends groups and a recent environmental education conference. 

When our host, Graham Wright, asked people to share a species with which they have worked at A Rocha or particularly love, answers poured in. The European Roller in the Vallée des Baux, France; Western Toad (and the toadlets) in BC, Canada; Long-eared Owl, ringed at Minet Country Park, UK; the Algarrobo tree in the dry forests of Peru; the Halavi Guitarfish in Watamu Marine National Park, Kenya; the Otter at Aammiq, Lebanon. A Rocha has always drawn people with big hearts for ‘all creatures great and small’.  

You can watch edited highlights of this special event here. 


A fruitful forest encounter

A Rocha Kenya has been working to create a nature reserve to protect what remains of the coastal forest of Dakatcha. Home to 13 IUCN Red Listed species, this habitat has been stripped for charcoal, planted with pineapples and heavily grazed by cattle, camels, goats and sheep. The forest is recognized as a Key Biodiversity Area and yet remains one of the ten most threatened forest hotspots in the world. 

On a recent Habitat Assessment exercise, an A Rocha volunteer named Eric Kinoti, along with a reserve scout from a local community, came across a group of Somali herders who asked why grazing was not allowed in the reserve. Eric recounts what happened next:  

‘We took the initiative to show them how God has given the responsibility to humans to care for the earth, and why it’s everyone’s responsibility no matter the religion. We also showed them pictures of birds in Dakatcha. They recognized some and even taught us some of the birds’ names in the Somali language. In the end they were happy and quite satisfied and vowed to spread the word to their fellow herdsmen. It’s amazing to see the great work our scouts do. Despite the language barrier between them and the herders, they eventually sing the same tune, of conservation and hope.’  

Read more about A Rocha’s vital work in the Dakatcha Nature Reserve here. 


Fundraising heroes

Creation care can take many forms, including raising money to support the work of organizations like A Rocha. Everyone can be a fundraiser – you don’t have to be an athlete or take on an epic adventure, though sometimes it can help! Here we meet just a few of the heroes who are helping to protect people and the planet through their fundraising efforts: 

Angaza Taa is a social enterprise founded by Allison Karabu to fund sustainable development projects through the sale of tote bags. Allison developed the concept of Angaza Taa in Grade 11, wanting to use her artistic skills and experience in development – grounded in her Christian faith and values – to support communities and showcase the organizations and initiatives making a difference. Angaza Taa donates 30% of the profits from each tote design to a selected project or organization. Now people can support A Rocha Uganda’s conservation efforts in West Bugwe Forest, by purchasing a Flutter Butterfly tote! 

The fifth Sokoke Forest MTB Challenge bike race took place in Kenya on 21 May. Its aim was to raise awareness about the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and its conservation as well as raise funds for A Rocha Kenya’s ASSETS programme. 100% of the proceeds (race sponsorship, contributions from the riders and registration fees) went to supporting the secondary school fees of children living around the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest and practical conservation action through the work of ASSETS. Over 70 hero cyclists took part and helped raise over KSh 500,000, which will cover the secondary school fees of 13 children! 

When Russell and Sarah Hager got married earlier this year, they wanted their wedding gifts to make a difference to communities and nature around the world. So, as well as asking for contributions to their carbon-friendly honeymoon, they asked their guests to purchase a Gift with a Difference on their behalf. Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, they were delighted that their wedding could contribute to nature-based livelihoods for Syrian refugees, monitoring coral reefs, planting tree saplings in India, training communities in Uganda to make sack gardens and more!