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

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling – Keep Those Rivers Flowing

The National Drought Management Authority has made public that we are about to face the worst drought since 2009/2010 stating, “the damages and losses as a result of the drought will be unprecedented”. This is in response to the current drought situation. Various sectors have been encouraged to come up with interventions to mitigate the drought that is expected to take place between June and October 2017. Other stakeholders have been encouraged to source for funds in order to assist local communities.

As we brace ourselves for this drought, the MKEWP continues to urge members of the public to remain vigilant in order to protect our limited water resources. A quick situation assessment carried out by the Partnership and WRA officials has revealed that the water situation is dire. Naro Moru, Rongai, Kareminu, Ontulili and Sirimon rivers have already started drying up. Other rivers like Timau, Burguret, Moyok, and the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro have diminished flows. The drought will only put more pressure on these rivers.

During the January-April dry spell, MKEWP worked with the WRA and various WRUAs to mitigate the water crisis. This involved WRUAs implementing River Water Rationing Programs, while the WRA helped with compliance. One of the lessons learnt in this exercise was the need to start these efforts before the rivers dry up. We must take on a much more proactive approach when dealing with water crisis management. Restoration of river flows is extremely difficult where rivers have dried up, and the only significant improvement on flows is in rivers that had minimal flows.

The new Water Act 2016 has enhanced the role of WRUAs in Water Resource Management. As water users within our respective sub-catchment, we all have a role to play in the management of water resources. WRUAs provide us with this mechanism and their membership is open to all water users in their sub-catchment. Don’t know which WRUA you belong to? Call  LWF on +254 726 500 260 to find out.

The WRUAs play an important role in managing water shortages. Their job is to ensure that water is available for all the users within their sub-catchment. This role has become very challenging due to lack of finances to support operations such as the implementation of rationing programs, and monitoring activities. To address this, MKEWP is developing a partnership agreement with Wetlands International to support the WRUAs. MKEWP, through its secretariat LWF, will also make available a simplified popular version of the Water Act so that we can all know what the law says about Water Resource Management and, more importantly, how we can participate and stay engaged in the conservation of our catchment areas.

Smart Water for Agriculture is Good For Business!

There is no doubt that the Irrigation Acceleration Platform (IAP) in Laikipia County is making great strides in water management for the small-holder agriculture sector. The Platform was established in May of this year by the Smart Water for Agriculture Program of SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation). This Project aims to increase income and food security for households around the County.

The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP) is supported by an LWF secretariat. We joined SNV to organise a communications workshop tailored for IAP county host leaders and farmer group representatives from five counties.

We implemented a 3-day workshop that focused on how best IAP leaders in the counties, and farmer group representatives, can communicate with farmers, financiers and suppliers. Powerful stories from farmers emerged from the workshop. Here’s one of them:

Ephraim Kagi Kahenya (EKK) is an active member and Secretary for the Naro Moru Water Resource Users Association (NWRUA). For over a decade now, Ephraim has been remarkably consistent in spreading the word about the importance of our catchment areas and encouraging communities to participate in various water conservation activities. His contagious enthusiasm shone through as we talked more about his work.

LWF: Why did you become a member of the Naro Moru WRUA?
EKK: I joined NM-WRUA in 2002 so that I could work with communities in the area. This is after leaving my job in Nairobi. I was extremely concerned that there were so many people without jobs. Also, I was worried a great deal about the state of the river; it just was not flowing due to mismanagement. Many members of my community had started to engage in get-rich-quick schemes that led to obstruction of the river and caused conflicts. I felt I had to do something about it.

LWF: Have you always lived in Naro Moru?
EKK: Yes, but I left to go look for work in Nairobi so that I can support my young family. I was a part of the hospitality sector for over 5 years before I decided to come back home and engage with community members on issues surrounding water conservation. The problems had become personal to me. I wanted to change things.

LWF: In what areas did you want to see the greatest change?
EKK: Water Storage is the most important thing! I have seen how people suffer during dry periods like this one we are going through now. People forget that sometimes water in the rivers dwindle so much that there is barely enough for our houses let alone for other activities like farming. People should move away from the notion that river water is the only source of water all year round.

LWF: Do you practice what you preach?
EKK: Of course! Over 10 years ago I put up simple greenhouses that had 2 functions. One was to protect my crops from the elements and the other was to construct greenhouses that can collect water when it rains. I also constructed a small dam (he says laughing). When I first started many years ago, my neighbours thought I had won some sort of lottery, but these structures were very inexpensive. I am open with my neighbours about how much they cost, so that they too can build similar structures

LWF: Have you seen a change in the way your neighbours are farming as a result?
EKK: Absolutely! You see, I use very little water because of the drip irrigation system that I installed. I am currently growing tomatoes, chillies, snow peas, onions and garlic. This supports my entire family, and I even have something left after meeting all my costs. The dam as well as the water structures that I have put up store enough water to support both my farming and household needs. Can you imagine that we now have 10 demo-sites based on my model thanks to the Water Services Trust Fund! The sites provide farmers with a platform to learn more about smart water irrigation and other practices that they can implement. The Trust Fund also gave us finances to put up water harvesting structures for all public institutions along the river. This means the school children get water even when taps around town have run dry, which is very important.

LWF: So your challenges are few and far between?
EKK: Oh, I wish that was so! We are definitely witnessing change in how people farm, but we are human. There are conflicts that erupt between those farming upstream and those downstream because of abstractions especially during dry periods. But this does not need to happen if people would just invest a little in water harvesting structures. Farmers need to be more cautious and informed about how they farm, and I sing this song for anyone who will listen, even to the children and youth in my town. Farmers also need to get information about how much water they need, and implement smart water solutions…. Even go as far as to test their soil. The County Government provides these services through mobile labs; it is just a matter of paying them a visit!

LWF: So the County Government provides much needed solutions as well?
EKK: Oh yes! The only thing that I would like to encourage is that the government simplify the results from the various tests they carry out for the farmers. They must make more effort in translating the information resulting from the tests, so that the right decisions are made.

LWF: How will this communications workshop help you?
EKK: I can now plan ahead and tell people more about the activities that the NMWRUA carries out. I want more people to know our stories so that other WRUAs in Laikipia and beyond can implement smart water solutions when farming. We need to stop working as if we are not part of a larger landscape! Once we do that I am sure we will see less conflicts and more water in our rivers. The workshop has also built my confidence, so that I can approach different stakeholders in order to come up with a better way of doing things

LWF: What else do you want people to know?
EKK: Join your WRUA and install water harvesting structures! As long as you are part of a catchment community you should join your local WRUA. This is very important for change. It is a place where solutions to our water problems can be designed and implemented with the help of our partners such as SNV and LWF. Your participation will teach future generations on the importance of community participation and engagement.

End Note
SNV’s Smart Water for Agriculture Program aims to contribute to better water management for small-holder agriculture and increased income and food security. The target is to increase water productivity by 20% for 20,000 SME farmers in 5 counties in Kenya (Laikipia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Machakos, and Meru) toward secured water access for production and resilience to climate change. This means assistance to 4000 small and medium scale farmers in Laikipia. LWF, through MKEWP, is supporting this very important platform and is the secretariat of the Partnership.

Here’s Why You Should Get Involved In The Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan

The 2017 Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is scheduled to take place from the 21st to the 25th of July. A number of registered volunteers and partners shall join the 5 days walk that aims to sensitize river users on the need to conserve the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The Caravan will kick off from Ilmotiok Community, Laikipia County, and will journey downstream to end at Archers Post, Samburu County. Participants in the Camel Caravan will spend time with every host community along the way, in a series of interactive sessions that will include screening of documentaries that focus on the need to conserve the Ewaso Ngi’ro Basin Ecosystem.
MKEWP, whose secretariat is Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), will be supporting this initiative, and will be bringing together downstream and upper stream users to engage in meaningful dialogue around issues surrounding cooperative management and conservation of the Basin.

Rivers can both unify and divide us. The increase in human populations, as well as agricultural activities, infrastructure development and the effects of climate change has put tremendous strain on our water resources. Water users both upstream and downstream often lack a shared understanding of the threats facing a particular river system, and fail to effectively collaborate around integrated water resources management. This is leading to conflict and an escalation of the threats facing river systems.
Kenya’s Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is a unique example of a river journey initiative, based upon pastoralist traditions. The Ewaso Ng’iro River finds its source on the north-western slopes of the iconic Mt Kenya, and flows through arid and semi-arid lands into the Merti Aquifer and Lorian Swamp, after which it passes through Somalia, joining the Jubba River. The Ewaso Ng’iro River supports livelihoods of approximately 3.6 million people.

The overall purpose of the Ewaso Ng’iro Camel Caravan is to promote cooperation and collaboration between upstream and downstream users to mitigate threats on the ecosystem as well as conflict between users. This initiative started in 2013, with the first edition funded by Partners for Resilience, IMPACT, MIDP and WRUEP. Since 2013, the event has attracted a number of stakeholders who are willing to join hands in saving the Ewaso Ng’iro River. The communities living along the Ewaso Ng’iro have used the camel caravan as a platform to engage with other stakeholders, and share the challenges facing them, their environment, and their livelihoods.

IMPACT, who is driving this initiative, invites all interested stakeholders to assist with funding or contribute in any way they can. Broad support and participation will ensure the success of this initiative.

This worthwhile cause needs your participation and help. Please contact the organisers for further information:

Joseph Lejeson Olendira: olendira@gmail.com

Olekaunga Johnson: olekaunga@yahoo.com / impactkenya2002@gmail.com

0722663090, or 0726766447.

You can also download more information about the event here.

Map Source: De Leeuw et al, 2012, Benefits of Riverine Water Discharge into the Lorian Swamp, Kenya.

The Future of Our Wildlife Depends On The Success Of The National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy

Kenya has experienced a 70% decline in wildlife numbers over the last 30 years. Extinction now challenges iconic species like wild dogs, cheetahs, lions, rhinos and giraffes, not to mention scores of other smaller animals, plants and insects. 16 months ago, we were forecasting the extinction of several vulture species in the Country.

Only Laikipia and parts of the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro landscape have seen wildlife numbers remain constant over this same period. But we continue to lose species diversity.

Efforts are still underway to collect inputs to the formulation of the National Wildlife Conservation and Management Strategy for Kenya after a public participation meeting held in Nanyuki on Thursday the 22nd of June. Turnout was mixed, with no county government representatives from any of the northern counties. On Friday, June 30th, the Formulation Team was in Kisumu, and then proceeded to Nakuru on Monday, July 3 where further inputs were collected. The final public engagement will occur at the Coast, in Mombasa later this week.

These efforts are collecting important inputs into the themes and approaches that should be adopted as part of a national strategy.

So far, discussions have focused on 5 major themes: (1) Space for wildlife; (2) Human-wildlife conflict; (3) Partnerships that support wildlife conservation; (4) Benefit sharing; and, (5) Research and Development.

This new National Strategy has never been more important. It’s probably our final wake-up call to get national conservation actions right. The Strategy must parallel Vision 2030, and it must demonstrate real tangible benefits to Kenyans living with, or tolerating wildlife on their lands – not the lip-service that is paid to benefit sharing and compensation to date. It must shore-up Kenya’s protected area system, and get KWS back on track.

It is estimated that we may only have 10-12 years remaining to establish the underpinnings of a successful national wildlife conservation effort. After that, our populations of wildlife will be reduced to exotic zoos and isolated islands of private wildlife collections. By 2030, our human population will have increased to almost 65M citizens – a 42% increase from our population of 2015. Our life expectancy will have increased about 4 years. About half that population will be 15 years old or less, and more than half that total population will earn less than USD $ 2 per day.

What will this Strategy say about maintaining wildlife in contemporary Kenya against these overwhelming statistical facts? It’s up to us. Get engaged! Stay involved!

Find the latest DRAFT of the National Wildlife Policy here.

The Drought And CIDPs: Be Informed. Be Engaged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Government is forecasting a continuation of the Drought. The National Drought Management Authority for Laikipia is issuing a drought emergency that is expected to last at least through October 2017. The full emergency report can be downloaded here:

They predict seriously dangerous conditions ahead, rivalling the last big drought in Kenya almost 10 years ago. Rainfall recorded for April and May was off by 50% and 30% respectively. Most vegetation recovery has been quickly compromised by hungry livestock, illegal livestock and strong winds. Most pastures are not expected to last more than a month.

Water resources are again seriously challenged. Human-Wildlife Conflicts can be expected to increase as people, livestock, and wildlife compete for water in pans, dams, and shallow wells. Rivers are already starting to experience seriously reduced flows.

LWF continues to work with NDMA on two focal areas of drought assistance. We will coordinate grazing agreements on private lands for community breeding stock, and help to secure food supplements for cattle. This means continuing to work with Borana, Ole Naishu, Lolldaiga, Ol Pejeta, and Ol Jogi commercial ranches. In addition, we are working with NRT to coordinate similar food supplements assistance to the Community Conservancies.

We have secured funds to continue monitoring river flows and will work with WRUAs to set in place (again) water rationing plans for each river. This is aimed at curbing illegal abstraction. We WRUAs to ensure downstream flow and domestic water supply. NDMA funds will be used to support WRMA and enforcement of these plans and permits.

 CIDPs: Be informed. Be engaged.

County Integrated Development Plans are the tool by which every county in Kenya establishes their development investment agenda. New CIDPs will be required by the end of this year (2017) to guide the allocations of county funding from national government.

Each CIDP is based on a 10-year sector strategy. Each sector of the county’s development agenda should have a strategy that guides their development efforts. The CIDP marries these sector plans into an integrated development investment. At least 30% of every county budget is dedicated to development investments. Historically, most counties have been unable to spend this allocation.

LWF, NRT and the Mpala Research Centre are working on a common effort to support the informed development of CIDPs for Laikipia, Baringo, Isiolo, Samburu and Marsabit Counties. Previous CIDPs were woefully inadequate on the management of natural resources including rangelands, water, forests, and wildlife. No CIDPs from these counties addressed the movement of livestock across this landscape, and as a result, there are no inter-county arrangements to manage movement and pastures.

Our efforts are focused on bringing the best available information to the informed development of these new County Integration Development Plans. Stand by for updates!

You can download the woefully inadequate, existing CIDPs for the 5 counties here

Important Update From The Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership

As we mark 1.5 years since the formation of the Mount Kenya Ewaso Water Partnership (MKEWP), the Partnership continues to expand its activities in order to ensure that water challenges within the Upper Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment Area (UENNCA) are addressed collectively.

During a recent MKEWP Council meeting held on 31st May 2017, the progress of MKEWP was underlined:

  • Nordic Climate Facility (NCF) Project: Farmer groups and WRUAs have submitted their expression of interest for support to improve water use efficiency within the region. The project is moving towards the implementation phase under the technical assistance of Rural Focus. All activities must be completed this year.
  • Smart Water Agriculture – Irrigation Acceleration Platform ( IAP)- This platform was officially launched on 12th May 2017 and is now moving towards the implementation of activities that will increase water use efficiency for irrigated agriculture. LWF is hosting the Laikipia Platform and will facilitate activities through the financial support from SNV. This is a 4 year program.

New Partnerships are developing under the MKEWP umbrella:

  • British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK): The unit Commander has prioritised water conservation and management in their community outreach and development commitments. BATUK will be working with MKEWP to help communities within BATUK’s training areas to alleviate water shortages. Several discussions have already taken place between MKEWP and BATUK that include the development of a work plan to prioritise projects that focus on boreholes, dams and school catchment and sanitation systems. This work plan will also involve working with Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) who already have Sub-Catchment Management Plans.
  • Wetlands International (WI) is also involved in carrying out Water Resources Management activities in Laikipia. MKEWP will sign an MOU with WI in order to carry out a Water Allocation Plan and one Sub-Catchment Management Plan as well as capacity building on WRUAs in 2017. This is the beginning of a 4-year relationship.
  • Fauna and Flora International have secured a Darwin Initiative Grant to support communities around the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The award will start in July, and the water parts of this new project are being coordinated through the MKEWP. This is a 4-year grant.

Creating Awareness                                                                                                        

There’s nothing like a drought to highlight our weaknesses and to create opportunities. For the last two years, UENNCA has been experiencing increasing water shortages due in part, to climate change, but more-so due to illegal small-holder and commercial irrigation activities occurring at the upstream of the Ewaso Ng’iro North River Basin.

MKEWP will begin another round of water rationing with all the Mt. Kenya WRUAs. Each WRUA will be responsible for setting water use limits, as our rivers are already starting to go dry. Clusters of 3-4 WRUAs in each area will work to help each other establish and monitor water use. Unfortunately, only the Water Resources Management Authority is allowed to enforce the water rules.

You can help by reporting illegal water activities through the following hotline: 0740 214545

Remember, all water use from a public source requires a permit.

For the last 2 months has been spearheading a media campaign that aims at sensitizing the public, especially those living within the UENNCA, on the importance of water conservation and management. You can join the campaign and get regular updates by following MKEWP on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and by sub-scribing to the partnership’s YouTube channel. (insert connections)

Two technical studies will soon be hosted by the MKEWP. The first study will examine priority water conservation and management projects for MKEWP stakeholders, and the second will focus on a financial sustainability for the Partnership. Commercial tenders for these studies will be announced this week. The terms of reference will be available on LWF’s website.

Both studies contribute to the long-term planning of MKEWP’s future work and functions in the landscape.

Strengthening Protection Of Our Rhinos

The team from Borana Conservancy receive new uniforms

Over the past 10 years, the US and Kenyan Governments have entered into various partnerships in support of wildlife conservation. The U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking and USAID are taking action to enhance wildlife management and the enforcement and prosecution of wildlife crimes. In this effort, USAID Kenya partnered with the DOI’s International Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP) on a five-year project that uses DOI’s expertise in law enforcement, investigation, and prosecution to create a strong network of regional actors to combat wildlife trafficking throughout East Africa.

Last year, the Laikipia Wildlife Forum received a grant as a result of the partnership between USAID Kenya and the US Department of Interior (DOI). Support was received to “Enhance Security in Laikipia’s Rhino Sanctuaries”. The grant focuses on: a) Capacity building b) Anti poaching efforts c) Deterrence to Wildlife Trafficking for three conservancies in Laikipia: Ol Pejeta (OPC), Ol Jogi and Borana.

Borana Conservancy was the recipient of training for the Conservancy’s National Police Reservists (NPR). They attended a bi-annual tactics refresher-training course, which took place over a period of two weeks in February 2017. A total of 27 rangers, including their commanders, were trained. Emphasis was placed majorly on operational deployments, planning and live field firing. Laikipia regional training providers – 51 Degrees, conducted the training. Additional training on aviation support for crime scenes was provided by Space for Giants. Over 90% of Borana rangers were able to complete the training.

Borana Conservancy also spent part of their grant portion to purchase ranger uniforms, which included: shirts, trousers, belts, socks, berets and jackets. “These ranger uniforms have greatly boosted morale. We are seeing an increased confidence in executing duties and that is very important in our line of work”, says Abdi Sora, General Manager, Borana Conservancy.

Ol Pejeta and Ol Jogi Conservancies used their grant portions along similar lines.

In the Laikipia landscape, the 6 rhino conservancies (Solio, OPC, Ol Jogi, Borana, and Il Ngwesi, and Lewa) have organised around the Association of Private Land Rhino Sanctuaries (APLRS). Started in 1988, the Association is among the most successful private-sector groups to support wildlife conservation, with a particular focus on black and white rhino conservation in Kenya. This group hosts about 50% of the nation’s total black rhino population, and more than 70% of the nation’s white rhino population. And of course who can forget that OPC hosts the last three northern white rhinos on earth!

LWF continues to work with these rhino conservancies to gather more support for the high costs of rhino conservation. Our efforts include more grants, and working with KWS and the Kenya Government to get wildlife conservation and rhino conservation recognised as a land use, with appropriate subsidies and incentives.

Stay tuned for updates on our expansion of this program, and additional funding.

Don’t Let The Cute Face Fool You.   Security Dogs Take Work Very Seriously!

 

 

John Tekeles has lived with dogs his entire life. Growing up in a Laikipian Maasai community, he vividly remembers traversing the landscape with his family, cattle on the horizon and dogs faithfully following close by to provide the security they needed against wildlife and other dangers. John now heads the K9 Dog Unit at the renowned Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia.

LWF recently caught up with John after a Puppy Security Dog Training to find out more about his work, how his fascination with canines has grown and how his job impacts wildlife conservation in the country. The dog training is part of the USAID/Department of Interior Grant provided through LWF to the three rhino conservancies of Laikipia – Borana, Ol Pejeta, and Ol Jogi.

 

 

 

LWF: How different are the dogs you grew up with from the ones you are working with now?

JT: We usually didn’t know the origins of the dogs we grew up with. Sometimes we would wake up and a new dog has found its way into the pack. As long as it got along with the rest and it was able to contribute, we would usually let it stay. But I now work with Bloodhounds and Belgian Malinois and we know exactly where they came from. The care we give them is exactly what they need in order to be happy and to do their job. We pay very close attention to what they eat, their daily exercise regimen, and even how much rest they get. This is very different from how our dogs back home were treated (he laughs)

 

LWF: So where did your career as a dog handler begin?

JT: I began my career in conservation over 18 years ago working as a Ranger in Kajiado. When the organisation I worked for brought in two new puppies to be trained in support of the anti-poaching unit, I moved departments and have been working with dogs ever since.

 

LWF: How many dogs do you work with now at OPC (Ol Pejeta Conservancy)?

JT: We have a good number of dogs at the moment. Each is trained to carry out specific tasks. The three areas we focus on are tracking, assault and search. They all have different personalities, but are extremely efficient at what they do.

 

LWF: Do you work as part of a team or are you a lone ranger?

JT: I could definitely not do this job on my own. I work with a team responsible for looking after the kennels, as well handling the dogs. Even though I am the general supervisor, each member of the team contributes to ensure that everything is working, as it should be.

 

LWF: How has the recent training helped your team?

JT: The training we went through was extremely helpful. It brought out key issues that we needed to address and strengthen For example, I know I needed to strengthen my skills in handling dogs when on a search mission. Now I am confident in this area, and as a direct result, so are the rest of the team including the dogs. We have also learnt to sharpen our reporting skills, which are not only important for our own records, but for accountability as we work with so many other stakeholders.

 

LWF: So, you do work with other people outside Ol Pejeta Conservancy?

JT: Oh yes! The surrounding community is very important to us and the dogs also support them greatly. We provide a free service when the local community calls us to assist with issues such as petty theft. We work with the police and KWS in all matters. There are times we have been requested to go outside Laikipia to help with cases too! Right now we have over 10 cases in court as a result of our dogs tracking those who have committed crimes.

 

LWF: Guests visiting OPC must love meeting the dogs…

JT: Yes, especially the children. We allow students on conservation education excursions to go tracking and see first hand how the dogs carry out their work. But I always remind them that these animals are trained to carry out certain duties; they are cute but they take their work very seriously.

 

LWF: And when you’re back home, what does your community think about the work you do?

JT: Some people really do not understand the work until I explain it to them and then they are really interested. I tell them that the dogs are a part of our team, not just animals that follow us around. Without them, our work would be very difficult! Protecting our wildlife would be extremely difficult too.

 

LWF: What are some of the challenges you would like people to know?

JT: Some of the associated costs of training and maintaining our dogs are immense and we always have to make sure the funds are available. We work very closely with the police on the certification of our dogs, another cost that is big. But we overcome these challenges through the support of our stakeholders. Conservation is very important not only for Laikipia but for Kenya and we do our very best in making sure that we protect our wildlife. Special thanks to LWF for helping OPC get the resources we needed to help our dog training.

 

 

Drought Relief Update From LWF

In efforts just before the rains, NDMA and LWF again joined together to help with the distribution of 1500 bags of drought pellets for needy community breeding stock.

Six hundred 50 kg bags of feed were distributed through the ranching/conservancy community. Borana and Ol Jogi were again at the forefront of this effort. Ol Pejeta Conservancy continued with its own drought assistance programme to neighbouring communities, and continued to offering grazing access to the Conservancy.

Some 600 bags of feed went the northern community conservancies, and an additional 200 bags of rangeland supplements supported the communities cattle of Ngobit, Lamuria, and Tharua.

One hundred 50 kg bags went to Mowark and Il Pinguan Valley, 25 bags to Larora Le Sanagurii, 25 bags to Maundunimeri and 25 bags to Masenga.

With its limited resources for Laikipia, NDMA has done an outstanding job of collaborating with the Laikipia County Government, ranches and partners like LWF to get the limited drought relief to where it can do the most good. Henry Parkolwa of the Laikipia NDMA office and his team provided this leadership.

These are the slow and steady signs of neighbourhood cooperation for which Laikipia has always been known.

Let’s stay focused on helping our neighbours in good times and bad. You can access a full community report from Borana on LWF’s website which exemplifies a long-term commitment to neighbourhoods, rangelands and livestock management.

Despite the good rains we are receiving, most livestock is still too weak to withstand the sudden drop in temperature and exposure. Many small stock are dying and cattle remain stressed.  

Our collective efforts need to focus on recovery now, as we move back into a period of temporary greenness.

Most weather predictions for this area indicated a less than average rainfall for the remainder of the year.