Community & Conservation Kenya Rwanda

Delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus.

The really positive news in June was that we were able to provide emergency food parcels to eighty vulnerable families in the Masai Mara. A huge thank you to all of you who helped us with delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus.

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus
Masai Mara emergency food drive – Photo credit Julius Karia

In Rwanda, the Turengere Ubuzima sewing project received approval from the FDA for their face mask project, their food drive entered it’s 10th week of support and we are in the final stages of refurbishing Mama Speciose’s house. We remain committed to doing everything in our power to assisting the communities that we work with. Our heartfelt thanks go to all of our kind guests, the Mara Rianda Charitable Trust and Margot Raggett who have all so generously donated towards these important causes.

Ongoing assistance is needed in this time of crisis

Unfortunately, the effect of this pandemic is having a devastating impact on wildlife conservation areas too. Park authorities and conservation NGOs are facing unprecedented challenges associated with protecting our wildlife and wild spaces. Therefore, this month we are kindly appealing to you all to support ranger teams working tirelessly on the ground.

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus

Family representatives receive food parcels – Photo credit Julius Karia

Wildlife conservation is dependent on tourism

We have now passed three months without a single foreign tourist entering Kenya or Rwanda. As more time passes by,  sadly many people continue to be laid off from their places of work. Whilst people are struggling to pay for basic necessities they will of course be forced to turn to the cheapest ways in which to provide for their families.

One such an example is the bushmeat trade which supplies meat that has been illegally harvested from the wild. Poachers set wire snares with an aim of capturing small antelope and zebra. Poachers sell the meat on the black-market in towns and villages at a fraction of the price of conventional sources of meat.

wildlife poaching in Kenya

Poachers with illegal snares – Photo credit Mara Elephant Project

The snares can also inflict serious injury and death upon other wildlife too since this capture method is notspecies specific. Lion, leopard, hyena, jackals and serval cats amongst other predators have been found in these crude death traps. Larger game such as elephants are generally left maimed as they tend to get the snares caught around their feet or trunks. If left untreated the giants may succumb to their injuries or infection.

Our conservation partners have seen a definite escalation in this particular activity over the past few months. Yet the loss of income has been felt not only by people who have been forced into poaching, but by the very teams who we all depend upon to protect our wildlife. Anti-poaching resources have now been stretched to a new limit. 

de snaring traps wildlife conservation

MEP’s de-snaring rangers at work – Photo credit Mara Elephant Project

This is why it is of paramount importance for us to continue providing assistance not only for our community neighbours through our food drive programs which aim to ease pressure on the families immediately surrounding wildlife areas, but also towards supporting the brave people on the ground who are actively seeking out illegal activities.

If we can successfully do both we will help in increasing the protection of people, wildlife and habitats.  We are therefore appealing to you to please help us support the Mara Elephant Project whose work we featured in our April blog. They employ a team of rangers who are dedicated to patrolling both the Mara ecosystem and the Mau Forest in search of illegal snares.

During the month of May 2020, MEP and their various partners confiscated a total of 250 kg of bushmeat, arrested 11 bushmeat poaching suspects and removed a total of 30 snares during their joint patrols. On May 29, Kenya Wildlife Service and MEP recovered 4 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 37 kg at Ngorengore. (MEP, 2020, Partnerships are Key to Increased Protection – MEP May Report).

MEP’s rangers are the backbone of the organisation and desperately need support. Please help us to raise USD 800 to provide food rations for 16 rangers in the field for the next one month. If you would like to help us support this critical work, you can make a donation via our secure online payment link. Please quote “Rangers” as the donation reference. We cannot thank you enough for any support that you can offer at this crucial time.

Providing food security to communities in need – Masai Mara, Kenya

On Saturday the 13th of June this year, we actioned our first community food drive of delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus in the Masai Mara. At dawn, four of our Governors’ Camp team arrived in Aitong Town, Masai Mara, to load up the supplies that we had facilitated the purchasing of,  for 80 vulnerable families living in and around the Mara Rianda and Enkereri villages. Supplies were specifically purchased  from within the Masai Mara in order to support small-scale, local businesses; thereby increasing the impact of our support.

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus

Governors’ Camp facilitates the delivery of food parcels – Photo credit Julius Karia

Once loaded, the two Governors’ Camp vehicles drove to Mara Rianda. On their way they were treated to a special sight; mother cheetah Kisaru and her five subadult cubs gracefully crossed the road right in front of the cars!

wild cheetah and cubs Masai Mara

Female cheetah Kisaru and cubs – Photo credit Patrick Reynolds

Upon arrival at the donation site, the village chief, the village bishop and two doctors were there to support us with the donation process. All 80 ladies had arrived in time and the morning was kicked off with a speech by one of the doctors explaining best practices involved in proper hand washing techniques, wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing advice.

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus

Masai ladies receive best hygiene practices to slow the virus spread – Photo credit Julius Karia

Each lady then received her family’s month-worth ration of basic supplies which included a 24 kilo bail of maize flour, 3 litres of cooking oil, 5 kilos of sugar, 100 grams of tea leaves, a bar of soap and a face mask. The local clinic donated an extra face mask and clothes washing powder to the families too. The families who received the donations had all been identified from within the community itself as those most in need during this difficult time.

delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus

Masai ladies receive food donations – Photo credit Julius Karia

The morning was a great success and we would like to thank each and every person who made this possible. Together you helped us raise just over USD 2800 for the food drive, which equates to  just over one months worth of support for the families. Special thanks go to William Fortescue, our in-house photographer for donating a beautiful lion print so that we could launch an online raffle and raise some extra funds for the cause. Many of you entered this and we are happy to announce that the winner of the print was Jacquie Fotheringham!  We also wish to thank our long-time friends and supporters at The Mara Rianda Charitable Trust for their large donation towards the food drive. Without their generous support we would not have been able to continue assisting all the families in the months that lie ahead.

We have planned for these donations to continue for at least another six months since there is no doubt that the negative effects of the downturn in tourism will be felt for a long time within the communities. If you would like to make a donation, however big or small, you can do so through our secure online payment link . Ashe Oleng! Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Transforming a dilapidated house into a home – Rwanda

In last month’s blog we shared the story of one of our neighbours’ houses that had fallen into disrepair. We appealed for donations to help us make her house a home, and are delighted to report that since then you helped us raise USD 650 that will allow us to plaster her walls, buy some basic furniture and provide her with proper doors and windows.

Here is a photo of the current improvement to the house. We are just waiting for the mud to fully dry before we can begin plastering the walls. We will share completed photos with you in our July blog. Thank you so much to those of you who generously sent donations for this to happen. It’s made a real life-changing impact for Mama Speciose and her six children.

Mama Speciose’s house – BEFORE – Photo credit William Karoki

Community support during Coronavirus

Mama Speciose’s house – UNDER CONSTRUCTION – Photo credit William Karoki

On the 26th of June we marked the 10th weekly food distribution for the single mothers of the Turengere Ubuzima sewing project and their families. Margot Raggett’s fundraising appeal has enabled us to continue this support for a further eight weeks. The ladies are full of gratitude to all those who donated, and continue to donate to get them and their children through this difficult time.

Margot Raggett’s fundraising appeal enables a weekly food donation – Photo credit William Karoki

We’re thrilled to announce that last week we gained government approval for the Sewing Centre to become manufacturer and distributor for barrier masks! We wish to appeal to our guests to ‘buy’ masks made by the ladies for $5 each, which will then be donated to locals who are unable to afford their own, with a particular focus on the farmers living next to the park boundary.

Face mask sewing project Rwanda

Face mask sewing project Rwanda

Making face masks – Photo credit William Karoki

The idea behind the new initiative is to give the ladies a sense of dignity in earning money for making masks which are then donated to their poorer neighbours and on the strength of this will have raised funds sufficient to continue their own food assistance rather than continuing to receive food donations.

Face mask sewing project Rwanda

Turengere Ubuzima Sewing Project ladies with their new product – Photo credit William Karoki

It also means that we can help the wider community too, many of whom cannot afford masks.  And when we’re able to welcome our guests back, we’ll have a new product available for purchase – beautiful kitenge barrier masks! Once again, thank you to Margot Raggett and her Remembering Wildlife books for the amazing generosity and support in getting this social enterprise up and running, and helping these single women help themselves.

Face mask sewing project Rwanda

Thank you for helping these ladies create an income for themselves – Photo credit William Karoki

If you would like to support this initiative you can make a donation of any size via our secure online payment link. Please quote “Sewing project” in the donation reference. Thank you to all of you who are helping us with this worthwhile cause. We are also most grateful to those of who who have already made donations towards our efforts in delivering emergency essentials during Coronavirus. You can read more about the Community and Conservation work by Governors’ Camp Collection on our website.

By Alisa Karstad, Community & Conservation Manager, Governors’ Camp Collection. 

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