2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C.
Officials from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and National Museums of Kenya and the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) signed a Sister Park Agreement between Sibiloi National Park in Northern Kenya and Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in the United States on June 27. 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 signing ceremony took place during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C., which is highlighting Kenya this year. NPS Deputy Director Christy Goldfuss and Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument Superintendent Judy Geniac joined Kenyan Ambassador Jean Kamau, KWS Deputy Director for Strategy and Change Edwin Wanyonyi and Dr. Ahmed Yassinof from the National Museums of Kenya for the signing ceremony.
“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 U.S. National Parks Service and reaffirms our commitment to conserve the last great species and places for posterity.”
The agreement resulted from a Kenyan delegation’s visit to the 2013 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. KWS wanted to observe and learn what was expected from focus countries. While in Washington, DC, KWS met with staff from the NPS Office of International Affairs (OIA) to discuss possible collaborative ventures. Establishing a sister park was suggested as a simple way to get the two agencies working together. Following the delegation’s visit, OIA was contacted by Hagerman Fossil Beds who 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. Initially, information exchanges will occur through the use of email, fax, and the Internet. With special arrangements, future staff exchanges may be possible.
Hagerman Fossil Beds, located in the Hagerman Valley of Idaho, is a site of one of the world’s richest fossil deposits. Hagerman’s fossils come from a largely continuous, undisturbed stratigraphic record that spans approximately 800,000 years and provide data applicable for modeling present and future climatic and environmental change and ecosystem response at the local and global level.
Sibiloi National Park is on the northeastern shore of Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya approximately 800 kilometers from Nairobi. Sibiloi’s fossils 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. Sibiloi is also known for its Petrified Forest which draws tourists from around the world.