Community & Conservation Kenya

Mentorship that matters: Inspiring a community.

The highlight of the month was sharing our new Community and Conservation Impact video. We aimed to highlight as many of the projects that we are involved with in the video, which was a difficult task considering that the video is three minutes long! Please have a watch and we hope you enjoy it.

The Masai Mara

Mara Predator Conservation Programme

GPS collars serve as the fundamental unit of spatial ecology, which displays how an animal interacts with its environment. Using satellite collars to locate a lion has advantages over conventional monitoring techniques by collecting large amounts of data even for the most elusive individuals and from inaccessible terrain.

Lion collaring enables scientists to determine space use, activity patterns and the threats that the individuals face. The information is used to provide data-driven solutions and recommendations to help protect lions and the local community. The collars are linked to Earth Ranger, which is a monitoring platform that aids in the display of real-time collar data.

Niels Morgensen, Senior Program Scientist at MPCP tracking collared lions in the Mara ecosystem from the HQ in Olare-Motorogi Conservancy – photo credit Fernando Faciole.

In the past, the primary objective for collaring lions was to study the dispersal and mortality of male lions, how pride females overlap with the unprotected areas and to map conflict hotspots. However, this year the team documented the loss of two collared adult female lions due to conflicts after leaving the protected areas.

The death of a third (2/6) of the collared females indicates that many more lions are being killed by people than was currently thought. These findings resulted in a shift in the way the collars are now going to be deployed and the priority has had to become using them for real time conservation action.

The collar retrieved from one of the lionesses that was killed due to Human-Wildlife conflict – photo credit Fernando Faciole.

It is the intention of Mara Predator Conservation Programme to collar a female lion in every periphery pride in the Mara (between 15-20 individuals), specifically the ones that they know venture onto the unprotected areas.

Lion collaring by the Mara Predator Conservation Programme – photo credit MPCP

This system will have the potential to significantly decrease cattle predation by lions and human-caused lion mortality. However, to create a much larger impact, they need to collar lions from every conservancy/reserve pride whose home range overlaps the community lands.

They are currently seeking funding for lion GPS collars and cattle GPS trackers to better protect the local communities and the Mara lions from each other. It costs USD 5,000 per collaring event which includes the collar with a drop-off mechanism, vet fees, satellite fees, shipping and monitoring. It is our intention to support these efforts in 2023 and we would welcome any support from our guests via our secure online payment platform. Please use the reference ‘MPCP collaring’.

Lion collaring by the Mara Predator Conservation Programme – photo credit MPCP

As usual, as part of our conservation partnership we offered complimentary flights to the MPCP team. This month just one seat was used, which was for Dr. Vanessa Mukami Ruoro, a Kenya Wildlife Service vet who had come to the Mara to safely dart a lioness whose collar needed to be changed.

Mara Raptor Project

Over the past three months we have been providing regular financial support towards this project. In particular, half of our funding has been used to purchase a new set of tyres for their project coordinator’s car which will help him to keep driving anywhere between 1,500 km in a quiet month to over 3,000 km during the busy nest monitoring months! The balance was used towards a new radiator for the same vehicle.

Lemein Par of the Mara Raptor Project – photo credit Fernando Faciole.

Our in-house photographer Felix Rome captured some interesting images of a martial eagle that had caught a banded mongoose. Martial eagles happen to be the flagship species for the Mara Raptor Project.

Stratton Hatfield is the director of the project who has just completed his PhD on the ecology of martials, and after sharing these images with him, he was able to determine that this was a female known as 3M. If you look very closely you can see a band on her right leg and can just make out the letter M and the bottom of a 3.

martial eagle masai mara kenya

martial eagle masai mara kenya

The female martial known as ‘3M’ – photo credit Felix Rome

The MRP banded her when she was a juvenile and have records dating back to when she was just an egg in a nest! She is five years old and has now taken over a territory to the south of Governors’ camps.

3M as a baby chick in the nest – photo credit Mara Raptor Project.

Photographic records of banded birds with their prey are useful in building up their database. We encourage our guests and guides to look out for banded birds of prey and to send their photos to stratton.hatfield@kenyabirdofpreytrust.org

The Great Rift Valley

Eburru Forest & Eburru Rafiki

When visiting Loldia House, we highly recommend that you consider visiting the Eburru Forest. This is an important area for many bird and mammal species and is one of the last refuges for the critically endangered mountain bongo antelope.

Though you will not see a bongo yourself (they are incredibly secretive and remain hidden in the deepest, most inaccessible parts of the forest), it is still worth walking amongst the towering trees and vines, listening to the calls of a plethora of forest bird species.

A Hartlaub’s turaco in the Eburru Forest – photo credit Alisa Karstad.

The forest was historically home to a marginalised group of hunter-gatherers called the Ogiek People. As forests have received official protection most of the Ogiek have had to move out from these areas. However, some such as Masteo Kusen and his family have remained living right at the edge of the Eburru Forest and are allowed to graze their livestock and keep bee hives within the protected area. If booked in advance, Masteo and his sons will be happy to take you into the forest to harvest honey from their hives.

Harvesting sustainably sourced honey in Eburru – photo credit Harry Blakey.

The collected honey can be eaten right there in the forest and will be the most delicious honey you’ve ever tried! You are welcome to purchase a jar of honey from his hut at the end of the demonstration for KES 500 per jar while the demonstration itself costs KES 5000. As part of our support for alternative livelihood job creation, we purchase the honey from Masteo for use at Loldia House.

Honey for sale – photo credit Harry Blakey.

We continued our support towards Eburru Rafiki who are a small grass-roots organisation dedicated to the preservation of the forest. Each month they pay a small team of people to clear the forest trails in order to allow visitors to hike and explore the area more easily.

The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust

We were very pleased to donate a solar deep freezer unit to Soysambu Raptor Centre. This was something that they were in desperate need for, since the facility runs completely off grid and their previous set up only allowed for three days’ worth of food storage for the birds. The new unit will greatly alleviate the issue of having to constantly arrange deliveries of fresh meat and the costs and time that are incurred in that.

The new freezer will assist the centre to store food for the raptors.

As always, we also donated two weeks’ worth of meat to Naivasha Raptor Centre. The centre relies heavily on visitor entrance fees for general upkeep of the birds. We are pleased to be able to assist them in feeding these endangered animals each month.

Leah of KBoPT feeding the flock of vultures – photo credit Fernando Faciole.

Lake Naivasha Riparian Association – Hippo Census

In early December, The Wildlife Research and Training Institute in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service conducted a three-day hippo census for Lake Naivasha and Oloidien. Boat and ground patrols collected data on the population and distribution of hippos around the lake.

Hippos on Lake Naivasha – photo credit Alisa Karstad.

Hippos are a keystone species for aquatic ecosystems and we look forward to sharing the results of this census with you in the new year.

TAFA Community Center

The team at TAFA have continued to provide all the children with porridge each day of the week, which is no easy feat by any means. Thankfully, we were able to fund a third month of this feeding program and having visited the centre recently, we were able to see first-hand what a difference this small yet important meal has in the lives of the kids.

TAFA’s Uji program – photo credit Harry Blakey.

We purchased a huge sufuria (pot) in order for them to cook the entire amount in one go, which will save on gas; at the moment they have to divide it into three batches which is less than ideal.

TAFA kids playing football – photo credit Harry Blakey.

We also sponsored five new footballs for their end of year sports day tournament.  If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these children we would encourage you to consider making a donation that can be channelled through TAFA – even the smallest amount goes a very long way and they are always incredibly grateful for any support that they receive.

Laikipia 

The Moyo Foundation

The Moyo Foundation is on a quest to help end ‘Period Poverty’. ‘Period Poverty’ encompasses the educational and economic inequity that directly or indirectly results from menstruation. Often this is due to a girl missing school because of either the social stigma attached to menstruation (menstruating females are considered ‘unclean’) or an absence of the supplies she needs to manage it (and the shame that accompanies that).

Different statistics abound and it’s hard to know exactly what the count is, but most research agrees that about 40% of girls in rural Kenyan communities will miss 20% of school days each year.

The reusable sanitary pads made by the Moyo Foundation.

This absenteeism often means that girls will score lower on tests, fall behind, or drop out altogether. Studies show that educated girls and women are more likely to have fewer and healthier children and these children are in turn, more likely to get an education that propels them out of poverty. In collaboration with the Laikipia North Technical College, Moyo are producing reusable menstrual pads to be distributed at outreach clinics and mentorship gatherings, providing a sustainable, long-lasting solution for girls.

It costs USD 6 to provide a set of pads.  The pads come with a Period Tracker and an information sheet, which provides girls with basic information that they may otherwise not get. We have begun our support for this truly empowering cause by sending a donation to supply 41 girls with a set of reusable pads. If you would like to support this cause you can do so via our secure online payment link, referencing ‘Moyo pads’.

Mugie Conservancy

With thanks to the Kenya Wildlife Service, Lion Landscapes and several other partners, Mugie Conservancy was able to collar a female from the western lion pride with a satellite tracking system. Walimu (meaning ‘teacher’ in Kiswahili) is her name since she has been teaching the next generation bad habits of hunting livestock during the day while they are out grazing.

Walimu is sedated for the collaring event on Mugie Conservancy.

It is hoped that this collar will greatly reduce the number of livestock kills as the conservancy will be able to warn herdsmen of the lion’s whereabouts in good time.

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust prepares for collaring the lioness.

Back in November, Mugie started clearing an invasive aquatic weed species called water hyacinth from its 180-hectare dam. The work was carried out by a team of 15 individuals employed from the local communities and Mugie is currently working on finding a way to utilise the plant following its removal from the dam.

The removal of hyacinth from Mugie Dam.

By Alisa Karstad 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 info@governorscamp.com. If you would like to support our work you can do so via our secure online payment platform.

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