We are proud to be members of the East African Wildlife Society; an organisation that uses its influence, reputation and respected voice to argue for the sound governance of our natural heritage.
The EAWS have been in operation for over sixty years and are considered to be the voice of conservation in East Africa. Their main areas of focus are Forests and Water Catchment, Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation, Marine Ecosystems and Wetlands. In these focus areas, they work closely with local communities to enhance their capacity to manage their natural resources in a sustainable long term manner.
Since September, much of Kenya’s north has received less than 30% of normal rainfall – the worst short rainy season in decades. The government has declared the drought a National Disaster and if no rainfall comes by the end of the year (as experts predict), it will be the third consecutive poor rainy season since December 2020, meaning prolonged drought. It has only been three years since the previous one ended, which is sadly too short a time for pasture and water bodies to fully regenerate.
Much wildlife, including endangered arid-land species such as reticulated giraffes and Grevy’s zebra are dying from thirst and hunger. An important short-term solution is to provide supplementary bails of hay for the wildlife. The Grevy’s Zebra Trust (with authorisation from Kenya Wildlife Service) has been doing this since August in the worst affected areas (Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserves as well as Grevy’s zebra corridors in Laisamis, Marsabit County).
In Laisamis, the hay is put out along Grevy’s zebra corridors in the evening so that they can feed whilst they travel for water at night. This means that the hay deployment is very targeted and doesn’t give room for livestock to access the hay. The feeding sites are monitored in order to track the extent to which the Grevy’s are using the hay and to establish which other species are also benefiting from these efforts.
Many of the female Grevy’s zebras have foals and it’s essential that they receive nutrition in order for their young to survive this period, so that the population can grow. It costs (Kenya shilling) Ksh 250 (USD2.5) per bail and a lorry can carry 300 bails at Ksh 75,000 (less than USD700). Governors’ Camp Collection has paid for one truck load of hay (300 bails) in order to alleviate some of the pressures. The GZT is also managing water sources to ensure the zebras have continued access to this essential resource.
Images supplied by Grevy’s Zebra Trust.
Please have a look at this YouTube video posted by Wildlife Direct showing communities trying to give water to dying wildlife. Please note that it does show some quite disturbing images. If you feel moved by the plight of these endangered species, you can make a donation towards more hay through our secure online payment portal – just indicate ‘HAY’ in the reference section,
MASAI MARA NEWS
Removal of invasive Datura stramonium along road sides
We have been using some of the quieter time in the Mara to remove a plant called Datura stramonium from the roadsides near our properties. Removal of any invasive alien species is an important ecological restoration task to regularly carry out, in order to try and keep numbers under control. Invasives have a tendency to grow and reproduce at an alarming rate and to outcompete indigenous species.
Datura, also known by its common name of Devil’s Trumpet, is a toxic weed that originates from Central/South America; it has now spread across hundreds of other countries. It is poisonous to most wildlife and domestic livestock so it is not browsed upon and tends to thrive in disturbed soils where it can quickly take root, hence why we see it along the roadsides.
Datura stramonium grows along roadsides mostly.
We have cleared 5.4kms of road in the past couple of days and we will be clearing even more in the days and weeks to come. It’s a difficult plant to exterminate entirely, however we hope that over time our efforts will pay off! We received the approval from the Mara Reserve management to carry out the work and of course remained vigilant to wildlife at all times with the vehicle stationed close by.
Our efficient team is doing what they can to clear it during the quiet periods.
Presentation by the Mara Predator Conservation Program
We were pleased to welcome Niels and Kasaine from The Mara Predator Conservation Program to Governors’ Camp for a presentation about the important work of their organisation.
MPCP gives a presentation to our Mara guides.
Our guiding teams and other staff were fascinated to learn more about the ecology of the lions, cheetahs and wild dogs that live in the Greater Mara Ecosystem, the current threats facing their populations and the reasons behind collaring exercises as well as when to suggest an intervention by a vet, if they come across an injured animal. They also heard about all the efforts being taken to mitigate human-predator conflicts in conflict hotspots in the region.
We hope that the guides added to their already vast knowledge of predators and that they can go on to share this information with our guests. We also hope that through knowledge sharing, some of the misinformation surrounding predators can be eliminated back in their home villages to ultimately ease tensions between humans and predators.
Our guests can help in data collection by sending in clear photographs of the big cats that they see on safari, to build up the ID catalogues of each individual animal. More information on how to do this can be found on their website.
A new ultrasound machine arrived at the Mara Rianda Clinic. This was generously donated by the PD Foundation who have been instrumental at improving the health of the local community. No such machine was owned by the clinic in the past. Patients requiring one had to travel to a hospital much further away in order to receive their diagnosis. The machine will be particularly useful in the maternity ward. Many thanks to The PD Foundation for this hugely important piece of equipment. We are sure it will make an enormous difference to the lives of countless people.
The brand new ultrasound machine at Mara Rianda Clinic.
“We very much appreciate the donation of the ultrasound machine to Mara Rianta clinic. We are now able to scan pregnant women and carry out other emergency point of care scans. It will be important for fast diagnosis and prompt referrals. Before this arrived, we had to refer patients to Narok town over 105km away and at other times to Talek or Baraka hospitals which were not reliable because of a lack of available services in those hospitals. Thank you again” ~ Dr. Daniel Nampaso.
LOLDIA HOUSE NEWS
Rescuing a python on Lake Naivasha
In our October newsletter we mentioned that we had been removing some of the ghost (discarded) fishing nets from Lake Naivasha since they pose a terrible threat to wildlife. This month whilst out on a morning boat ride from Loldia House, we came across a Southern African rock python (Python natalensis) which had become entangled in such a net. After some deliberation onboard followed by a phone consultation with a snake expert, we decided that we had to try to help the snake as it would otherwise face a certain death.
We were able to get hold of the head and then lift the body up into the boat in order to cut away the fishing lines from the trunk of its body. It appeared to have been trapped for some time as it had quite deep gouges in its skin. Thankfully Stephen, our Loldia boat captain, with the help of guide Sammy, was able to cut the net away safely.
As soon as the snake was free, we checked it for any serious injuries before gently releasing it overboard, much closer to the lakeshore. We then hauled the offending net into the boat; it was heavily weighted with a mass of rocks which of course requires substantial strength and effort (watch the video). Before we headed back to Loldia, we managed to pull in several other ghost nets.
Luckily for this snake, it was a happy ending, but we are urging other tourism operators around the lake to boost efforts to pull in some of the discarded nets so that together we can try to prevent more senseless deaths of wildlife.
Visit to Kenya Bird of Prey Trust
Our guiding team from Loldia House paid a visit to The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust in Naivasha. Here they learnt first hand from director Shiv Kapila about threats facing Kenya’s birds of prey. Many of the myths surrounding birds such as owls were debunked and we loved meeting the flock of vultures who have become so friendly that they could be compared to domestic dogs!
The center has a growing collection of non-releasable Ruppell’s vultures – photo credit Felix Rome
It’s important to appreciate the story of each individual bird and the advocacy role that they now play in calling for increased protection of raptor habitats. Almost all of the birds that are in the center are there due to human-inflicted issues; electrocutions, car accidents, being attacked by people, poisoning events and so on. The aim is to rehabilitate and release all birds. However, due to the extent of some of the injuries, many of the birds will need to live out the rest of their lives at the center.
Loldia guides with Shiv Kapila at the Naivasha Raptor Center – photo credit Felix Rome
When a pair of a certain species are both in this position, they help to boost numbers of that species by becoming involved in captive breeding programs. Their young are released into the wild at the right time, while the parents remain as ambassadors for conservation efforts. We encourage our guests visiting Loldia House to visit the center, it is a truly fascinating place where you can really appreciate the personalities of some of these enigmatic creatures.
A Verreaux’s eagle-owl displays affection to Shiv Kapila – photo credit Felix Rome
Essential nutrients put out for the wildlife
The Loldia team have been placing rock salt, hay and molasses on the lawn in front of the house to help the local wildlife during this period of drought. Hippos, waterbucks, impalas, buffalos and warthogs have all been passing by to enjoy these resources.
A hippo passes by to enjoy the hay in front of Loldia House.
Stationery to Loldia School
We dropped in to visit Loldia School and enjoyed sitting in on one of the science classes. The enthusiasm shown by the children to answer the questions was inspiring. We donated hundreds of pencils and pens along with some hula hoops and skipping ropes which had been donated by one of our kind guests Nicky Van Dam; these supplies are sure to put big smiles on the children’s faces for a long time!
Loldia School children are hugely grateful for the hula hoops donated by a kind benefactor.
Food and Stationery to kids at TAFA Soccer Academy
We distributed the very last of the food support that had been funded by the Chairman’s Foundation via the Wilderness Wildlife Trust. More cooking oil, maize flour, sugar, rice and tea leaves were given to forty eight of the kids. The teachers handed us an envelope that was filled with thank you notes from the children who had received the previous donations. It is a touching thing to read through them and to know what a huge impact these rations had on their families.
“I want to thank you for your gifts because they helped us. Thank you for giving me this flour and other things like oil, sugar, salt and rice. That flour helped my parents because sometimes my parents don’t have money to buy food. But you helped us very much for your food. My parents were happy and their hearts melted with joy, like butter exposed to heat” ~ Sandra Jeptum.
If you would like to read the rest of the thank you notes, you can do so here.
TAFA school kids educational visit to Loldia
We welcomed twelve children (six boys and six girls) from TAFA Soccer Academy along with two of their teachers for an educational visit to Loldia House midway through the month. The children were selected based on their efforts in school and on the football pitch. We also hosted twelve more students from Loldia School and two of their teachers later on in the month.
The school children are given a tour of Loldia House and grounds.
Each group of twelve enjoyed a morning boat ride on the lake, a tour around Loldia House and grounds as well as a game drive on the ranch. Thank you to the team at Loldia for inspiring these youngsters to take a greater interest in wildlife conservation and tourism.
Enjoying cake and a cold soda on the shady lawn.
It was a very special day in their lives. Most of them had never even been out on the lake which they were born right next to, and on which so many of the parents’ livelihoods are dependent. Our guides took the time to answer lots of interesting questions from the kids and we look forward to continuing to welcome more young students to Loldia in the years to come. The cherry on the cake was the freshly baked cake and the crates of sodas which they enjoyed on the lawn!
TAFA Soccer Academy enjoys a boat ride on Lake Naivasha.
Three of the children wrote lovely thank you letters, you can read them here.
A letter of thanks to Loldia, from Cliff.
We are hoping to raise some small donations for the TAFA Soccer Academy:
These will be awarded on the 12th of December during the Inua Talanta Junior League.
After visiting them we realised that they are in desperate need of internet connection for their computers. Only one of their computers is currently connected to the internet meaning the children have to wait a long time for a turn to use it. The Internet opens up a world of opportunity and we feel that students would benefit from more access to this facility. For USD 150 we can help them to turn this dream into reality.
If you are in a position to contribute any amount to any of these donations, we would be most grateful for your support via our secure online payment portal. Please use “TAFA” as the donation reference.
If you feel in any way moved by any of these initiatives and you would like to support us, you can make a donation of any kind through the Governors’ Camp Collection Community and Conservation Trust’s secure online payment portal. We will ensure that any funds you send are used to directly improve the lives and well being of our community neighbours and wildlife. Thank you!
By Alisa Karstad, Community and Conservation Manager for Governors’ Camp Collection.