Gede Ruins, Kipepeo Butterfly Project, Bio-Ken Snake Farm

Gede Ruins, Kipepeo Butterfly Project, Bio-Ken Snake Farm

Gede Ruins

Not far from the Mombasa/Malindi road at Watamu are the Gede Ruins, which are a significant feature of Kenya´s heritage. The ruins are hidden in a forest similar to the Arabuko Sokoke and date from the 15th Century. Still an enigma, the ruins are a relic of an unknown people of whom there are no historical records. Gede ruins are the remains of a Swahili town, typical of most towns along the East African Coast. It traces its origin in the twelfth century but was rebuilt with new town walls in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This rebuilding is connected with the emigration of many citizens of Kilwa to Mombasa, Malindi and other places along the coast.

With its numerous inhabitants, the town became wealthy and it reached its peak in the fifteenth century. This enormous wealth is evidenced by the presence of numerous ruins, comprising of a conglomeration of mosques; a magnificent palace and houses all nestled in 45 acres of primeval forest. But in the first half of the seventeenth century the last families left the town.

Gede´s eventual abandonment to nature is believed to be as a result of a number of factors. Namely, the Wazimba raid along the East African coast in 1589. The removal of the Sheikh of Malindi and the Portuguese to Mombasa in 1593. The falling water table as shown by the deepening of the well outside the Great Mosque and finally the overhanging menace of the Galla, a hostile nomadic ethnic group from Somalia. Gede remains the first intensively studied site on the coast. It was first visited by Sir John Kirk, a British resident of Zanzibar in 1884. Over forty years later in 1927, it was gazetted as a Historical Monument. Two years later in 1929, it was declared a "protected monument" and in the late thirties, the Public Works Department carried out work on preservation of its crumbling walls. Gede was soon after the repairs in 1948 declared a National park and an Archaeologist appointed as warden. Thus, the first archaeological work at Gede began under the direction of James Kirkman followed by the first publication of the site. In 1969, Gede´s administration was taken over by the Museum Trustees.

Kenya and in addition to being a very important archaeological site; Gede indigenous forest is a sacred site for traditional rituals and sacrifices for the surrounding community.

Kipepeo Butterfly Project

Kipepeo (Swahili for butterfly) is a community based enterprise close by to the Gede Ruins that supports the livelihoods of people living around Arabuko Sokoke forest in coastal Kenya, East Africa. This provides an incentive for their participation in the conservation of a forest with high biodiversity and endemism. Kipepeo seeks to demonstrate the tangible link between conservation and livelihood. Kipepeo currently sells butterfly and moth pupae and other live insects as well as honey and silk cloth produced by the community. The pupae are exported and the live insects hatched and displayed in insect parks globally.

Bio-Ken Snake Farm

Bio-Ken is a research centre, which deals with reptiles, especially snakes and snake-bites. Located in Watamu and it houses the largest collection of Snakes in East Africa and is open to the public.

There are about 127 different snake species in Kenya. Of these only 18 have caused human fatalities and only another 6 could kill you. Another 10 could cause you a lot of pain and the remaining 93 or so, are neither non-venomous nor dangerous.