Do you Have What It Takes?

 

Calling On Pilots And Observers For This Year’s Aerial Survey

KWS and Partners are planning an aerial survey of the Great Ewaso Ng’iro ecosystem that lies in Kenya’s Mountain Region. They are seeking the support of volunteer pilots and observers to participate in this very important activity. Pilots and observers will be trained, fed, given overnight accommodation, and all participating aircraft will be fuelled. Training will be mandatory for both pilots and observers.

This year’s total count, generously funded by USAID – Kenya, will be focussing on elephants, buffaloes, Grevy’s Zebras, and giraffes. Numbers and location of cattle, shoats, bomas and settlements will be noted. The greater Meru National Park area will also be included in the count.

Dates: 19 – 30 November 2017 

Survey area: Laikipia – Samburu – Marasbit – Meru

A total survey is a time-consuming and demanding task, however, all information collated is vital, and supports the County government’s need to carry out regional planning and development based on accurate information that this type of survey provides. It is also important as it strengthens the baseline for monitoring and managing landscape health and integrity over future years.

Much of the survey will be based out of the Mpala Research Centre for the southern areas of the survey i.e. Samburu and Laikipia.

If you are interested in participating as a pilot (with a plane), or as an observer, please contact: John Gitonga on: john.gitonga@laikipia.org; Tel: 0726 500260

Past aerial surveys – both the last total count (2012) and the 2016 sample count for Laikipia, can be found here:

Total Count 2012 

2016 Sample Count

Conservation: Cutting Across Generations

Just how different is the opinion about Rhino conservation between an elder and young lady living in Il Ingwesi community? LWF recently met Mzee Lesaila Kirobi (MLK) and Fiona Saman, a recent high school graduate to find out….

 

LWF: What does Rhino conservation mean to you Mzee Kirobi?

MLK: I have lived in this community for over 60 years and so I have been able to see the changes that have happened here…. some good and some not so good. When I was a young boy I had no idea what conservation was. We lived with our wild animals because that is how my father and his father before that lived. Then things started to change and it took me some time before I understood why this foreign term – this Rhino conservation – was important and necessary. I have seen what Borana Conservancy has been able to accomplish over many years and I must say we have benefitted greatly from their work. And so conservation means that my grand children, and their children, can see the animals that I grew up with. Today, I try as much as I can to make sure that my community understands this. Conservation is for our benefit and that of our children.

LWF: But are there really benefits associated with Rhino conservation?

MLK: Yes! I have seen it with my own eyes. Children have been able to go to school. We also had some schools that were breaking down and now; they have been fixed so that learning can continue. You see, I also know that when we are talking about Rhino conservation, we are talking about conservation of many other animals, because they too benefit. They benefit from the land and grass that is protected, the security provided and the support given by those that do not live here.

LWF: Are there any other benefits, and where would you like to see improvement?

MLK: The wider community has also benefitted greatly as Borana helps us when we face security challenges. For example, cattle rustlers recently invaded our land…. it was a terrible situation. Borana sent in their team to help us get back our cattle. They also put in place a system that allows our animals to graze in the conservancy during times of drought.

It would be good if Borana continues to extend additional support and assistance to the community by improving the infrastructure of more schools in the area so that more children can attend. We old people would like our children to have more opportunities then we did! We would like our children to take what we have taught them (and what our elders before that taught us), and combine that with contemporary education so that they can earn an income to sustain themselves and their families. This can be done through activities such as strengthening the Livestock to Market Program.

LWF: Do you have easy access to conservation information?

MLK: Yes, the conservancy shares information on Rhino conservation activities regularly. I use this information to talk to community members who do not understand conservation. I also try and make members of the community comfortable enough to forward names of those with bad intentions that affect our well being and that of our wildlife and environment.

 

 

Fiona Saman (FS) is a 17-year-old young lady from Il Ngwesi community and a beneficiary from the Borana Education Program. She recently completed her high school education and will be the first in her family to join the University of Nairobi this September. Her passion lies in conservation and has vowed to return after completing her studies so that she can empower other community members to work together so that they can manage their natural resources.

LWF: How long did you receive support from Borana Conservancy?

FS: I received support since the very first day I joined high school – so four years in total. My family and I were very happy because we did not know how I would complete my studies. We just didn’t have the funds. I never thought I would complete high school let alone join the University to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology! I am so grateful! This is my brother….I hope he too can go to University.

LWF: Do you think conservation works?

FS: Absolutely! I am not the only one that sees that and I want more young people to understand the importance of conservation. Members of my community have been employed by nearby conservancies and also sell their produce and other items in order to get the money they need to support their families, and also other members of the community. That is how we live. But what motivates me the most is the thought that children born in 10 to 20 years might not see the beautiful animals that we have grown up with. I always tell young people that they can be a part of conservation in their own way, even if it’s just protecting their immediate environment. These are our animals; this is our environment, so we must protect it.

LWF: Do you find resistance when talking to your family and community about conservation?

FS: We always have to talk about conservation in a way that makes sense to the people who do not quite understand that big word – con-ser-va-tion! Growing up, we were told of stories of how our grandparents lived with animals and made sure that they were safe. Today, it is a little more difficult as there are people who value money much more than they do our animals and environment. In my view, the best way forward for conservation is for us to practice what was practiced all those years ago, working closely with conservationists and that is what I tell my friends and they seem to agree.

End Note

Through a concept proposal submitted by Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), the US Government through the Department of Interior (DOI) generously gave a grant in 2016 to “Enhance Security in Laikipia’s Rhino Sanctuaries”. The grant was set to focus on: a) Capacity building b) Anti poaching efforts c) Deterrence to Wildlife Trafficking to three conservancies in Laikipia namely: Ol Pejeta, Ol Jogi and Borana. LWF has gone a step further and wants to understand the perception of Rhino conservation among communities surrounding conservancies in Laikipia, in order to support the development of a communication awareness plan for these communities. Join the conversation by following Laikipia Wildlife Forum on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (@laikipiaforum).

#VifaruWetuMaliYetu (Our Rhinos, Our Wealth)!

We Don’t Have To Live In Antarctica To Be Rabies Free

 

You can see the zeal in her eyes as she lures her dog towards us. Sanaipei had learnt that 40% of people bitten by rabid animals are children under 15 years of age, with domestic dogs contributing to 99% of all rabies transmissions to humans. This is all thanks to the Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign (LRVC). Sanaipei wants to make her home safe for her children and ensure that they get enough information to make the right decisions when dealing with a dog bite. With the exception of Antarctica, rabies cases are still being reported in countries all over the world – mostly those in developing nations.

The Laikipia Rabies Vaccination Campaign started in 2015 with the aim of providing real-time health benefits for people, domestic animals and wildlife. The long term goal is to make Laikipia Kenya’s first rabies-free County. Human, wildlife and dog deaths caused by this disease are still reported in significant numbers, which is quite alarming as populations of “man’s best friend” are on the rise. Participants in the LRVC spent six days under the scorching sun, with angry, stubborn dogs and successfully vaccinated seven hundred and forty three dogs. Last year, over four thousand dogs were vaccinated in twenty days.

Just like all other initiatives, the LRVC has had several challenges, some which can be managed while others are simply beyond human control – like the weather. However, we have had overwhelming support from various partners such as Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia Wildlife Forum and Ol Pejeta Conservancy among others. The number of students, vets and community members who are always willing to volunteer is always encouraging but we do need more of their support and that of the Laikipia County Government.

This year’s LRVC will take place over the 4 weekends in October. Our goal is to vaccinate 5,000 dogs and cats during this period. The campaign will target approximately 20 communities bordering Mpala, Ol Jogi, Segera, Ol Pejeta, Loisaba, Ol Lentille, Karisia, Naibunga, Lewa and Borana Conservancies.

By 2030, Kenya hopes to be a rabies free nation, and Laikipia is leading efforts to ensure this vision becomes a reality. In the meantime, we hope to see Sanaipei once again with the same zeal and determination to end rabies, starting with her dog Poppy, this time bringing along neighbours and friends for the same cause.

Laikipia Wildlife Forum will be working closely with the LRVC and will keep you up to date on this very important initiative, so stay tuned!

About the writer:

Wangechi Kiongo is a student from Karatina University currently working on the LRVC.

Important Updates From MKEWP

Burguret WRUA Holds Successful Elections

We would like to congratulate Burguret Water Resource Users Association (BWRUA) who recently successfully conducted their elections. Mr. Stephen Mbau has been elected chairman, saying that he looks forward to leading the WRUA in spearheading the following objectives:

  1. Promoting legal water abstractions.
  2. Creating a forum for conflict resolution.
  3. Promoting dialogue between water users and the government.

Burguret River Sub-Catchment covers 210 square kilometres and serves over 25, 000 people, from Rongai to Naromoru.

Meet the new committee (From L to R):

Chairman – Mr Stephen Mbau (0722248137)

Treasurer – Mrs Purity Muthoni

Vice Chairman – Mr Maurice Maina

Secretary – Mr Ngarara

Vice Secretary – Mr Kiguthara

Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) serves as the secretariat to the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) who conducted the elections in partnership with the Water Resource Authority (WRA).

A Powerful New Partnership Is Born

MKEWP has entered into a new partnership with Wetlands International (WI).The primary objective is to support local WRUAs in protecting water resources within the upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment Area, and provide capacity building to effectively manage their activities, as well as understand their role as stipulated in the new Water Act (2016).

This year, our efforts will focus on:

  • Sub Catchment Management Plans (SCMP) for Kudoti WRUA.
  • Water Allocation Plans (WAP) for Teleswani WRUA.

Tribute to Generose Andeso

 

It is with great sorrow that we announce the recent death of our dear colleague and Ngobit WRUA Chairlady – Generose Andeso. Generose passed away unexpectedly after a short illness in Kakamega.  She selflessly served Ngobit WRUA since its establishment, guiding the WRUA in developing its Sub Catchment Management Plan. She was key in mobilising valuable resources for the WRUA, which also received support from LWF, the Water Sector Trust Fund and Fauna and Flora International through Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Genrose was loved and admired for her consistent commitment to the water sector. She was well known for her participation and contribution to new water policies within the County and at the Basin level. Her incredible spirit brought together upstream and downstream water users resulting in important dialogue that greatly supported conflict resolution. We are all united in our grief and our memories of her incredible spirit.

The Elephant Man Does It Again

 

 

 

When Jim Justus Nyamu, a-k-a the “Elephant Man”, walked into the LWF offices over 5 years ago claiming that he had grand plans to walk from Nairobi to Marsabit in support of Elephant conservation, intrigue quickly merged with some scepticism. But LWF’s membership believed in this ambitious cause from the very beginning and has been supporting Jim with both financial and in-kind donations ever since.

To date, the “Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk Campaign” has received enormous support from the Kenyan Government, foreign governments represented in Kenya such as Ireland and the US, County Governments, big corporations as well as wildlife and environmental Ministries. First Lady, H.E. Mrs Margaret Kenyatta has also supported the cause.

Jim, the founder of Elephant Neighbours Centre (ENC) and Research Scientist, has now walked 10,457 km which includes an astounding 3,480 km walked in the East Africa region (Kenya – Tanzania – Uganda 2016).

ENC is a Non-profit Organisation whose mission is to protect the African elephant and secure landscapes for elephants outside protected areas. The organisation places emphasis on a three-tier approach: integrating community knowledge, environment and livelihoods in resolving principal problems and bias facing conservation in Kenya.

The Ivory belongs to Elephants campaign has also involved 2, 198 learning institutions and held over 3, 780 community meetings in Mombasa, Nairobi, Maasai Mara, Samburu, Mt. Kenya and the Tsavo Conservation Area just to name a few.

Jim’s 2017 Nairobi – Mt. Kenya – Marsabit walk covered 617 km in 32 days. On his journey, he managed to meet with 51 communities and also attended the Loiyangalani Cultural Festival held on the shores of Lake Turkana in Marsabit County in order to create awareness about elephant conservation. All the meetings were organised and coordinated by County Commissioners and KWS.

The organising team also felt strongly that the 2017 walk needed to address issues surrounding the growing conflict between cattle herders and ranchers in Laikipia. These conflicts have resulted in the unprecedented killings of wildlife, burning of tourism facilities that generate vast amounts of money for the County’s development, not to mention the devastating loss of too many Kenyan lives.

In 2007, the elephant population stood at 20,376 in Kenya. Today, the numbers are significantly lower making this species critically endangered as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Despite global attention to the plight of elephants, their population sizes and trends are uncertain or unknown. To conserve this iconic species, conservationists need timely, accurate data on elephant populations.

Notable strides are being made to save this iconic species. The corridor that connects Mt. Kenya and Lewa’s Ngare Ndare Forest is working well and conservationists hope that other heavily wildlife populated areas in the country can borrow a leave from this. Elephants and other wildlife migrate when they are either looking for water, pasture, salt licks and even medicinal plants! These form fundamental reasons for opening, maintaining and conserving wildlife corridors and habitats.

The two most recent elephant aerial surveys indicate a decline in elephants in the Marsabit ecosystem, which has two distinct habitats: the forested and savanna habitats. It would be prudent to carry out an independent forest survey in Marsabit National Park to establish how many resident forested elephants utilize the forest, density distribution and threats.

LWF will continue to support Jim as he plans for the 2018 Ivory Belongs to Elephants Walk Campaign, and we hope you can too! To find out more, please contact Jim on:

Phone: +254 723 398 190 Email: jim.nyamu@elephantcenter.org