Colin Church - Founder and former Chairman
Colin Church committed many years of his life to conservation in East Africa. As Chairman of Rhino Ark Management Committee for 12 years, he oversaw the fundraising and completion of the 400 km electric fence that now surrounds the 2,000 km² Aberdare Conservation Area. It is a vital water catchment area for Kenya, encompassing indigenous forest, national park and a farming region for millions of people. Funding for the fencing and community outreach programme of Eburru (largely from Safaricom and totalling US$1.5 million) was finalised during his time with Rhino Ark. He was active on various conservation boards including the Mara Elephant Project, Big Life Kenya and the marine charity Ocean Soul Foundation. He served as Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service board of honorary trustees in 2003/04. Colin sadly passed away in March 2021. His achievements in conservation live on and Eburru Rafiki are committed to keeping his passion for protecting and regenerating Eburru Forest alive.
Tony Church – Chairman
Tony Church has stepped into his brother Colin’s shoes to continue his vital conservation work in Eburru Forest. Brought up on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya, he served for three years in the Southern Rhodesia Police Force in the 1960s before returning to Kenya to manage a tea estate in Nandi Hills. By 1971, he had founded Safaris Unlimited, which grew to be the acclaimed luxury riding and photographic safari company it is today. Tony has been involved in conservation in Kenya throughout his life, including as an active councillor with Friends of Conservation. From 2003 to 2010, he served on the Hells Gate and Mount Longonot National Parks Management Committee and more recently on the Board of Rift Lakes Conservancies Association. He currently lives on the slopes of Mount Eburru overlooking Lake Naivasha.
Alistair Nicklin, African born and raised on the coast of Kenya, has spent most of his adult life migrating around East Africa; working as a ranch manager in Laikipia, engaged in wildlife management, guiding safaris and farming – all roles that overlapped and interconnected with the other. Alistair became very involved in Eburru after learning that the forest hosts a dwindling population of the rare Mountain Bongo and consequently helped set up camera traps and monitoring of this magnificent species. As a result, he has gained in-depth knowledge of the forest and surrounding communities. Alistair also sits on the Loldia/Naivasha Connectivity Committee, which is actively creating valuable and lasting wildlife corridors from Eburru Forest to the Lake – and beyond. Alistair lives in Naivasha where he owns a renewable energy company and continues to guide safaris.
Josphat Macharia was born in Ndabibi village adjacent to Eburu forest. Along with his family, he is very active in using and promoting sustainable agriculture methods including; organic fertilisers, soil and water conservation, runoff water harvesting, biogas, fish farming and aquaponics. They do all this on a 5.2 acre farm and Josphat is very active in training and sharing his experiences with other small farmers as well as with international visitors to the area.
Lydiah Nyota is a resident farmer in Eburu location, Gilgil sub-county. She is currently chair of the location water project, is a representative on the County land board, is a Board member at two secondary schools, is a committee member on the Community Forest Association, as well as for Eburru Rafiki. She also represents women's interests in the Gilgil sub-county, and chairs a community policing initiative at the locational level.
Njenga Mungai, Resort Manager, Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf Resort (GRVL). Experienced hotelier with 7 years in GRVL and 17 years in the hospitality industry. In his time at GRVL, the resort has become involved in the reforestation programme for Mau Eburu Forest in partnership with Eburru Rafiki. GRVL hosts an annual mountain bike challenge event which is a fund-raising event for the Mau Eburu reforestation programme.
Hugh Gibbon was brought up in Western Kenya. He currently lives part time between Naivasha and Tigoni. He holds a PhD in Geography & Planning through a joint Universities programme in Kenya and the UK. He also has a Masters in Rural Social Development & Agricultural Extension, and two certificates in Management and Agricultural Economics. He is a member of the Tropical Agriculture Association and Natural Resources Management Group in the UK. He has advised for more than 30 years across more than 20 tropical countries in; rural development, biodiversity conservation and management, community and sustainable forest management, natural resources management, and has led a number of evaluations in the biodiversity and natural resource sectors.
Shel Arensen - Born in Tanzania and raised in Kenya, Shel has worked with the Ogiek/Dorobo community for 30 years starting new churches. The Ogiek (sometimes Okiek) are a hunter-gatherer group native to parts of Tanzania and Kenya. Having first visited Eburru in 1991, Shel has enjoyed regular hikes in the forest with his Dorobo friends, sometimes collecting honey, other times investigating plants and roots for medicine or searching for the elusive bongo. As editor of Old Africa, a history magazine focused on East Africa, he has a rich knowledge of this area and tales of its past. Shel lives on the Malewa River near Naivasha with his wife Kym.