Click on the picture below to see what the Tree Detectives found when they visited Kipipiri.

The music used for this video is Easy Jam by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence.



A BIG THANK YOU to Al Navaz who showed us around Kipipiri and helped check the facts for this animation.

Mount Kipipiri is a volcano in the Wanjohi Valley (known as Happy Valley in colonial times). The valley is on the Kinangop plateau near the Aberdares mountain range. The name Kipipiri means butterfly in Kikuyu.

Our Tree Detectives stayed at the Kipipiri campsite run by Outdoor Africa. You can find the campsite on facebook or contact them on You can bring your own tent or stay in one of the green bandas you can see in the picture.  

As Al tells the children, people cut down most of the indigenous forest in this area. They were still cutting until very recently.  According to global forest watch Kipipiri has lost nearly all its forest since 2000.  

After people cleared the forest they planted many new trees. These are mainly Eucalyptus, Acacias and Grevillea trees from Australia, and Cypress from Mexico. We call these trees exotic because they come from elsewhere. People planted them because they grow fast and are good for firewood. But, because they are not from this area, these trees do not provide food and shelter for the local insects, birds, and animals. Plantations like this are wood farms not forests.

The Rhino Ark project and the local community put up this fence to protect the remaining forest. The project to fence the Aberdares started in 1989 and was completed in 2009, when an extra section was added to protect Mount Kipipiri. Rhino Ark raised the money for the materials and local communities provided their labour to build the fence. The fence protects them from elephant attacks and stops their crops from being eaten by forest animals. Thanks to the fence, people can live peacefully, and the forest is protected. 

This forest is important not only for its beauty and biodiversity, but it is also one of Kenya’s most important water towers.These ‘water towers’ regulate our climate, store water in the ground, are the source of important rivers, control soil erosion and flooding and store carbon.  You can find a map showing Kenya’s 18 protected water towers here. 

Every year the Rhino charge, cross-country car rally raises money to continue protecting the forests. Read more about the Rhino Ark project here. 

Here are some of the trees you may see when you visit Kipipiri. Click on the links to learn more about them.


Hagenia abyssinica

African Pencil Cedar 

(Juniperus procera)

East African yellowwood

(Afrocarpus falcatus)

Olive tree

(Olea europaea)

Find out more about the Tree Detectives' adventures here