Kakamega is Kenya’s only tropical rain forest and home to 480 species of rare birds. But now this biological treasure house is under threat from an exploding local population.

Meet Ernest Mutsotso, who has fathered 30 children and lives right next to the reserve. Like his neighbors, he’s been nibbling land at the edge of the forest and he wants Kakamega’s Forest Manager, to let him cultivate even more. But even Ernest understands that old customs will have to change, if the forest can survive.

Kakamega’s rainmaker, Joseph Owino, uses his traditional knowledge to try and save one last stand of the ancient giant trees. He calls the isolated grove of indigenous trees, his sanctuary and it’s where he performs his secret rituals. The shrinking forests here are also the home half of Kenya’s bird species.

Wilberforce, a local guide here, has learned how to talk to them and incredibly, they sing back. Along with the rangers patrolling Kakamega, he’s trying to make sure their beautiful voices don’t go silent. Watch The Last Forest produced by Robert Gichiru and Namukabo Werunga from Kenya’s NTV.

Web page by Belva Digital. Photos by Andrew Tkach.