For the last four days of April, ten of our guides in the Masai Mara took part in a guide training course that was conducted by Shiv Kapila, one of the founding directors of The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust.
A hooded vulture descends upon a carcass – photo credit Felix Rome
African white-backed vultures gather around a giraffe carcass – photo credit Felix Rome
There are few people who can match Shiv’s knowledge, experience and enthusiasm when it comes to birds of prey in Kenya and our team were lucky to learn from one of the very best.
Governors’ guides learn first hand from raptor expert Shiv Kapila – photo credit Felix Rome
Our guides are always eager to expand their wildlife knowledge and this course provided them with plenty of in-depth information specific to birds of prey which we are sure they will continue to enjoy sharing with their colleagues and our guests. “The raptor training was amazing. I learnt practically as well as taking theory. It was magic. Whatever was taught in the classroom we could see out in the field. A special moment for me was watching a juvenile martial eagle learning to hunt mongooses. That was a great experience. Thank you very much to Shiv for this training. If possible, I would love to do it again” ~ Simon Sitienei, Head Guide, Governors’ Il Moran Camp.
Simon Sitienei of Il Moran – photo credit Felix Rome
“The Raptor Course was very, very productive. I don’t think I could have asked for more valuable sightings than those that we had over the four days; two hours watching a young martial eagle learn how to hunt, a giraffe carcass with tons of vultures around it, an African harrier-hawk ripping apart a starling’s nest to eat chicks as well as several other raptors” ~ Shiv Kapila, Director of the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust. We are grateful to Shiv for giving our team so much of his valuable time to run the course and it was a wonderful example of our strengthening partnership with The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust.
Lemein Par and Shiv Kapila of the KBoPT – photo credit Felix Rome
In the Greater Mara region, raptor populations are in serious decline. To guide conservation decision making, reliable and long-term datasets are required to track population trends and health. Through systematic nest monitoring work, The Mara Raptor Project provides data for eight focal raptor species (three vultures, four eagles and the secretary bird) within this region.
Nest Monitoring – photo credit Felix Rome
Their Nest Monitoring Programme is set up to routinely observe raptor nests and report breeding success or failure. Successful breeding is critical for raptor populations to thrive and one of the best ways to protect raptors is to protect their nests. The project works closely with conservation managers who are responsible for the protection of the Greater Mara Ecosystem.
In order to effectively monitor the diverse region, they have divided the area into 5 nest monitoring blocks. The Maasai Mara National Reserve is Block 1 and Lemein Par (the Mara Raptor Project manager) has been monitoring nests here for three successive years. We are excited to learn of their plans to roll out the nest monitoring program in several other blocks this year.
Lemein Par and Shiv Kapila monitoring a raptor’s nest – photo credit Felix Rome
The Masai Mara has a high density of lions (around 500 lions concentrated within 2572 Km²). However, there is also a large (and growing) human population in this region. Most of the people are pastoralists who rear livestock (mainly goats and cows) for their living.
As the human population rises, space for wildlife diminishes. For many years there has been an ongoing challenge to foster coexistence between people and wildlife in many of the community lands.
A Lion Ambassador – photo credit Felixie Kipng’etich of the Kenya Wildlife Trust
To help address some of these issues, MPCP established a Lion Ambassador’s Programme. Under this programme, ten men were selected from within their own communities across ten key zones. These ambassadors are a vital link between communities and the MPCP.
Kiok – a renowned male lion of the Masai Mara Reserve – photo credit Felix Rome
Their job is to ensure that human-lion conflict and potential retaliatory killings/persecution of lions is reduced and to encourage their communities to embrace coexistence with lions. One method of improving coexistence is to lease their lands to the conservancies which protect critical lion habitats. The communities then receive monthly lease payments and in return their land can be used for wildlife conservation.
A Lion Ambassador conducts a Herder’s Training Session – photo credit Felix Rome
The ambassadors also play a crucial role in responding to conflict incidences and collecting vital data relating to such conflicts. Since they are often among the first responders to HWC incidents, they are able to play a big role in changing mindsets and dissuading communities to retaliate against predators. This month we paid the entire salary for one of the Lion Ambassadors.
According to the International Ecotourism Society (TIES), ecotourism is defined as, ‘Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people’. During our green season we took the opportunity to carry out EcoTourism certification audits for three of Mara properties; Governors’ Camp, Little Governors’ Camp and Governors’ Il Moran Camp.
The Eco-rating Certification Scheme is a sustainable tourism certification program that aims to promote responsible tourism in Kenya. It is an initiative of the Kenya tourism industry, designed to further the goals of sustainable tourism by recognising efforts aimed at promoting environmental, economic and social/cultural values.
The scheme focuses on tourist accommodation facilities to determine how responsible their operations are and awards qualifying applicants a Bronze, Silver or Gold certification evaluated against set criteria. Emphasis is given to sustainable use of resources, protection of the environment and support to local communities.
The auditors visited the camps and carried out a thorough investigation of our guest tents, kitchens, restaurants (both guests and staff areas), stores, waste management/disposal/ recycling/composting areas, vegetable gardens, wastewater treatment systems, offices, public areas, staff quarters, workshops, water sources, energy sources and clinic. They also spent time learning about our conservation and community impact.
As part of our CSR we sponsor a wildlife club that is run in collaboration with The Wildlife Clubs of Kenya. We look forward to receiving the results of this process in due course.
On the 25th of April, a medical outreach clinic was carried out in the Logorate area where 66 patients were attended to for a variety of ailments. Over half of the patients seen were suffering from respiratory diseases of one kind or another and many had to be referred on to other medical facilities for further treatment. Akiba, Bettina and Jackline of Governors’ Mugie provided logistical support on the day.
Governors’ Mugie staff helping during a previous outreach clinic – photo credit Nick Penny
These clinics provide much needed medical resources for rural communities and we are pleased to sponsor one every second month.
Mugie Conservancy received permits to conduct another lion-collaring exercise. This brings the total number of collared lions on the conservancy to five. This will significantly support Human-Wildlife Conflict mitigation. The collars were kindly donated by Lion Landscapes.
Gaby of the Gaby Pride of lions on Mugie Conservancy – photo credit Nick Penny
The first male lion to be collared on the conservancy – photo credit Max Lovatelli
As part of our Governors’ Mugie sustainability efforts, we purchase fresh milk each day directly from Nomotio; a small farm situated within the conservancy. Each dawn, the cows are milked and the milk is then distributed across the conservancy for staff and tourism partners. We make all of our own delicious butter and cream using this rich milk.
Nomotio farm – photo credit Harry Blakey
Guests are welcome to head down to the small farm to watch the milking session and can even take part in the milking themselves! There is no extra cost and advance booking is not necessary for this activity.
If you follow us on social media or regularly read our newsletters, you are sure to know that this is a project that is very close to our hearts. Each month we aim to support their important work by providing as close to a full month’s worth of food for all of the birds in their care. This month was no different and we were pleased to provide 90% of the funding required (KES 90,000) to help this worthy cause.
Rüppell’s vultures being fed at the Naivasha Raptor Center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
With the onset of the rains in April, the annual tree planting program commenced in and around the Eburru Forest. Community guide Chege and his team planted three acres of land with a range of indigenous seedlings including Prunus sp., Olea africana, Juniperus procera and Podocarpus falcatus. All were over 3 feet tall to survive the weeds.
Chege, the Eburru Forest community guide planting a seedling – photo credit Felix Rome
Our latest contribution towards these planting efforts brings the total number of seedlings sponsored by Governors’ Camp Collection in this area to 1266.
We provided a 7th month worth of ‘uji’ (finger millet porridge) for the children at TAFA. This daily cup ensures the children aren’t going hungry, which is sadly a feeling many of them are all too familiar with.
The month also marked the end of the funding we had received from one of our guests towards this program. We are therefore currently fundraising for the next few months. It costs just USD 250 per month to provide the meal each day to all 260 children. If you feel moved to make a donation you can do so through our secure online payment platform. Please reference ‘TAFA’.
TAFA kids – photo credit Nick Penny
We also supplied a rugby ball, netball and volleyball as well as five new footballs for their Annual TAFA Community Sports Day which took place on the 29th and 30th of April.
By Alisa Karstad, Community and Conservation Manager for Governors’ Camp Collection. If you would like to learn more about any of our Community & Conservation efforts you can reach out to us via email email@example.com.
If you would like to support our work you can do so via our secure online payment platform link below