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First ever Sister Parks relationship between Kenya and US established
Date Published: 30 Jun, 2014
The National Park Service and Kenya’s Wildlife Service and National Museums of Kenya signed a sister park agreement between Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and Sibiloi National Park and the National Museums of Kenya on June 30, 2013 to promote international cooperation and collaboration. This is the first time the National Park Service (NPS) has established a sister park agreement with an African nation.
The signing ceremony took place during the Smithsonian Museum’s annual Folklife Festival, which is highlighting Kenya this year. US National Park Service Deputy Director Christy Goldfuss and Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Superintendent Judy Geniac joined Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and the Arts Dr. Hassan Wario, Ambassador Jean Kamau, Kenya Wildlife Service Deputy Director for Strategy and Change Mr. Edwin Wanyonyi and Director General National Museums of Kenya Dr. Ahmed Yassin. Scott Miller, Deputy Under Secretary for Collections and Interdisciplinary Support for the Smithsonian moderated the event.
“These two sites have significant fossils, history, and current-day resources,” Superintendent Geniac said. “Research in both locations is helping the world to understanding past climate fluctuations and species’ responses, something that may help us address the world’s future.”
“We are happy to be associated with U.S. National Park Service for this historic signing of the sister parks relationship between Sibiloi National and Hagerman,” Deputy Director Wanyonyi said. “The sister parks agreement we are signing today will go a long way in strengthening relationships between Kenya Wildlife Service and US National Parks Service and reaffirms our commitment to conserve the last great species and places for posterity.”
The five year agreement between the sister parks will increase information sharing and direct park-to-park contacts to address issues the parks share in common. Both parks are known for their important terrestrial paleontological localities and have produced fossils that represent a large diversity of species.
The agreement resulted from a Kenyan delegation’s visit to the 2013 Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. While in Washington, DC, KWS met with staff from the National Park Service Office of International Affairs to discuss possible collaborative ventures. Establishing a Sister Park was suggested as a simple way to get the two agencies working together. Following their visit, Hagerman Fossil Beds expressed an interest in partnering with Sibiloi National Park. The parks will exchange technical and professional knowledge, collaborate, and share experiences. Shared information may include best practices and advancements in park management, customer service, conservation, data collection techniques, and tourism development.
Hagerman Fossil Beds, located in the Hagerman Valley of south central Idaho, is a site of one of the world’s richest fossil deposits. Assemblages date from the early to middle Pliocene epoch. It is best known for its preservation of several hundred individuals of Equus simplicidens, which is the earliest example of the modern horse genus. Over 60,000 specimens are housed in collection facilities on-site with additional specimens at museums across the United States and around the world. This is an important birding area known for its winter residents of waterfowl and shorebirds as well as the bald eagle, cormorant, and pelican.
Sibiloi National Park is on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya approximately 800 kilometers from the capital city of Nairobi. The fossiliferous Koobi Fora region contains sites of paleontological and paleoanthropological significance with over ten thousand fossils, including hominin fossils, recovered. Sibiloi is best known for its specimens of the genus Homo. Sibiloi’s fossils also provide an opportunity to trace the evolution of numerous mammalian lineages back in time and to study the effects of climate change and human activity on local fauna. Today, Sibiloi provides a breeding habitat for many types of fish and its unique, diverse biodiversity includes such animals as the Grevy’s zebra, Beisa onyx, Grant’s gazelle, Topi, lion, hyena, and jackal. It also forms part of an important flyway for migratory birds. Sibiloi is also known for its Petrified Forest which draws tourists from around the world.