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Laikipia Water Strategy






KENWEB botanist awarded the Fairchild Medal

Quentin Luke


Quentin Luke, KENWEB’s tireless botanist and co-discoverer of most of the exceptional biodiversity of the Tana Delta (the colobus and mangabey, the Madagascar Pratincoles, etc.) and responsible for taking its plant species list from 300 to almost 800, many of them threatened and several of them new to science, has been awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Field Botany: the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration. Given out annually by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) of the US of A, it rewards distinguished service to humanity by exploring remote areas of the world, using innovative travel itineraries, conveyances, or techniques to discover new plant species, playing a crucial role in the ex situ cultivation of rare or endangered plant species and ensure preservation of threatened and endangered habitats and natural communities. Quentin is best known for his work on the sacred Mijikenda Forests or Kayas of the Eastern African seaboard which largely through his work in the 1990s, are now recognised by Unesco as World Heritage Cultural Landscapes Those of us fortunate enough to spend time in the field with Quentin (and who in addition have the physical stamina to keep up with him when he crashes through tangled and spiny vines, crawls over slippery branches crossing croc-infested waters or trundles knee-deep through the mud of seemingly endless marshes) know that he is not only the walking encyclopaedia of East African Plant life and the IUCN red-list authority for the region but also a great teacher, a critical thinker, a fun companion and an extremely knowledgeable naturalist for an endless series of species groups other than plants. Armed only with secateurs, a plastic bag, a petrol fuelled plant drier, a GPS, a mosquito net and some dry foodstuffs he can spend days collecting in the most inhospitable places, on condition that there is real coffee not this powdered ersatz that some Swiss companies are mass-producing to the detriment of South-East Asia’s most valuable forests. The director of the NTBG puts it in these terms: “Quentin personifies the old-fashioned, no-frills plant collector ethic. Guided by his life-long commitment to Africa, its plants and people, and naturally possessing a keen sense of exploration and discovery, Quentin is an ideal recipient for the Fairchild Medal.”

Congratulations Quentin, well deserved!

Tana Delta, The Movie

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