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Stories of Change : Community Voices on the Impact of the Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife Project

A member of the Mutara community sharing his testimony on the impact of the Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife Project.  programme in the area (Photo by Dylan Habil @OPC)

Lots of projects get “done”, but who is interested in impacts?

From 25th to 30th January 2020, Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC) & Laikipia Forum joined community groups within the Mutara and Suguroi river sub-catchments to learn about their experiences, perspectives and results from their participation in the Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife Project. 

Mr. Kiprono Lekeiyo, a downstream water user and a member of the Mutara Water Resources Users Association shared that, as  part of the downstream community, he has suffered a lot from lack of water for domestic use and his livestock. Mr. Kiprono noted that water scarcity happens most during the dry seasons of January-March and July-September. He’s angry, and tells us that his woes are brought about by upstream communities that abstract all the available water from the river for irrigation purposes, leaving nothing for himself and members of his community.

This situation seems to be gradually changing since the beginning of the Laikipia Cattle, Water and Wildlife Project .

Lekeiyo confirms that through the Project’s advocacy efforts, Mutara WRUA is currently working closely  with upstream communities to regulate abstractions through a water rationing plan.

The water rationing plan develops a schedule for abstractors, ensuring that farmers are not abstracting all at the same time, and that they safeguard the environmental flows.

“So far, so good,” he says.

He gives a further example of how they did not experience a dry river  last year. “The upstream- downstream meetings are very important for us since we are able to negotiate water access rights with the upstream communities,” Kiprono concludes.

Kiprono’s sentiments are echoed by Mr. James Eleman, Senior Chief, Mutara Location. “We are seeing increased efforts by farmers to harvest and store rain water. Within Mutara sub catchment, I have a record of about 100 farmers who have installed water pans. This is good since it increases water storage and availability within the sub catchment. The water field days and WRUA campaign to increase water storage organized by the project have resulted in these positive efforts. We continue to urge farmers to construct more water pans as an alternative water source for the dry seasons.”

The project started in 2017 and ends in 2021. It is implemented by 3 partners – Fauna and Flora International, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Laikipia Forum.The Project is supported by the Darwin Initiative through UK Government funding.

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Biking and Hiking for Rhino Conservation

What makes for an appealing safari and fundraiser these days? It appears that a bike and hike combination, dedicated to conservation and outdoor adventure works wonders!

Between February 1st and 12th, 8 adventure clients from the USA joined the Adventure for Rhinos safari- a multi-sport adventure dedicated to rhino conservation in the Laikipia landscape. Starting at the Mount Kenya Safari Club, the adventurers biked through the mountain’s forest to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where they met Fatu and Najin (the Northern White Rhinos) and Baraka (the blind black rhino).

They rode through Ol Pejeta with wildlife by their sides, but had to cut their bike ride short due to a huge herd of elephants. On Day 5, the adventurers biked rom Kicheche Camp to Jua Kali with Nanyuki’s local cycling team- Nanyuki Mambas and finally on to the Lolldaiga Hills. The last day of biking was an arduous one, with some serious elevation gain. The route went from Lolldaiga to Borana Conservancy, through Ole Naishu. After a “rest” day on Borana Conservancy, the adventurers climbed Mt. Kenya on the Timau route, all of them summiting Point Lenana.

Riding alongside giraffes on Lolldaiga was thrilling, walking through the savannah of Ol Pejeta listening to lions roar in the distance was gripping, having to pause mid bicycle ride to watch a herd of elephants was spellbinding and watching the sun set behind Batian and Nelion, Mt. Kenya’s tallest peaks held us all in awe.

The adventurers biked over 190km with over 2,900m of elevation in 5 days and then climbed Mt. Kenya, which was a hike of 46km with 2,545m of elevation. Congrats to all of them!

The ‘safari’ was an adventure, a journey and an opportunity to exhibit wildlife conservation in Laikipia, in particular rhino conservation. The safari took the adventurers through sanctuaries that host rhinos and conservancies that are hoping to host rhinos in the future. And to tie it all together, the guests climbed Mt. Kenya to get a bird’s eye perspective of the Laikipian landscape.

Adventure for Rhinos is connected with the Laikipia Forum’s efforts to raise funds and awareness for expanded rhino conservation in Laikipia. This effort is called the #RhinoRevivalFund. The Rhino Revival Fund was conceived more than four years ago to serve the conservation needs of our area. We continue to explore ways in which communities, government, and landowners can become more directly involved and successful with wildlife conservation. This fundraising trip has made almost $50,000!!

The Rhino Revival Fund is the foundation for a more ambitious grant funding mechanism for wildlife conservation in the greater Laikipia landscape. The Mazingira Conservation Fund will soon grow to USD$200,000 with a 4:1 match, and help support community-led efforts to engage in expanded conservation activities. You can learn more about the MCF here.

Adventure for Rhinos would like to acknowledge the following partners and sites for their contributions to this effort:

@africanascents @savagewilderness @tropicairkenya @onefortyeight_nairobi
@fairmontmtkenya @mkwc_ke @OlPejeta @kichechelaikipia @kicheche_safari_camps

@lolldaiga_hills @boranaconservancy @boranalodge @tonywild_ke

#AfricanAscents #KWS #Mt.KenyaNationalPark #NanyukiCyclingClub #adventure #adventuretourism #rhino #rhinoconservation #wildlifeconservation #mtnbiking #laikipia #kenya #magicalkenya #whyilovekenya

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Promoting Livelihoods in Laikipia Neighborhoods Through Cattle Fattening and Sale : The Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society Story

Laikipia North is a pastoralist-populated landscape with marginal rains. Most of the soils are not as rich in nutrients as their black cotton cousins. The Maa-speaking people of this landscape have a strong and historical connection to these lands. But their traditional movements are curtailed by more modern land use and property boundaries. Climate change introduces more frequent and unexpected challenges making livestock management in marginal areas a real challenge. So, what’s next for pastoralism?

This is in part, answered by the birth of Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society.

ORAMAT LENABOISHO COOPERATIVE SOCIETY is a community livestock enterprise based in Laikipia North sub-County. The primary purpose of the cooperative enterprise at present is cattle finishing/fattening to ensure better prices and better market access for Maasai cows. This effort started in 2016 in cooperation with Borana Conservancy.  The Cooperative aims to be a self-sustaining profitable livestock business, with finishing feedlots and modern slaughterhouse, and reliable market access. Improved livestock management, better and healthier breeds, and better rangelands are the goals.

Here’s how the Cooperative works – They secure steers and cull cows from their members, they fatten them using grass and feed supplements, provide medicine, and carefully monitor their condition and weights.  Fatter, healthier cows, managed exclusively for more up-scale meat markets, fetch better prices. Members are given the after-sale profits. Land lease agreements with Borana Conservancy for grass and medicines are also paid from after-sales profits.

The Cooperative currently draws members from 6 neighborhoods in the greater Borana area. 150 members are shareholders. Since 2016, more than 800 cows have been put through the Cooperative, with a gross income of more than 45M Kenya Shillings. And the Cooperative is poised for growth if they can do two things:

  1. Increase the amount of land used for fattening through additional land lease agreements, or outright land purchase.
  2. With their members, address rangelands restoration and better pasture management in their home areas.

This move has greatly awakened these community members to think outside the box and know that livestock are no longer needed reared just for prestige but for commercialization in order to reap maximum benefit. It also makes for better neighborhood relations and in time, better rangelands.

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Oramat Lenaboisho Cooperative Society is a member of the Laikipia Forum, and enjoys support and services from the Forum’s HQ in Nanyuki.