The 10th of August was World Lion Day. In celebration of this we supported our conservation partner the Mara Predator Conservation Program by providing funds to supply Predator Deterrent Lights to one Masai homestead.
Whilst the lions that surround our Masai Mara camps receive a relatively high degree of protection by virtue of living almost entirely within the National Reserve; many other prides’ territories are located outside of the reserve in community-managed conservancies. These areas provide vital habitat for wildlife to thrive; where landowners are able to gain economic benefits from allowing tourism facilities to operate on their land.
A lioness from the Topi Pride in Kenya’s Masai Mara – photo credit Nick Penny
However, since these areas are home to Maasai people who are traditionally pastoralists, they also tend to have high livestock numbers. Where there is livestock, there are more incidences of Human-predator Conflict. As predators kill livestock, they are persecuted by farmers in retaliation.
Predator Deterrent Lights – photo credit Nick Penny
‘Predator Deterrent Lights’ are an innovative solution for bomas (livestock enclosures to keep animals safe at night). They are a series of solar powered, flashing lights that deter predators, including lions, by acting as though humans are awake, flashing their torches, which predators have come to fear over time. Being solar powered, the lights are especially useful as many of the communities do not have access to mains power.
We continued our in-kind support of the project by providing Betty Cherotich, the project Hub Administrator, with a complimentary flight on Governors’ Aviation.
World Elephant Day was celebrated globally on the 12th of August. In honour of these magnificent creatures, we made a donation to our conservation partner The Mara Elephant Project in support of their Long-term Monitoring Team.
African savanna elephant – photo credit Nick Penny
This team’s role is to ensure that MEP better understands the overall population of elephants living in the Greater Mara Ecosystem and how these animals use the limited space that they have. Their data is used to inform future spatial plans that protect the ecosystem’s biodiversity and to explain why elephants move the way they do, leading to long-term solutions to conflict.
MEP’s long term monitoring team – photo credit Will Fortescue
On the 19th of August, Little Governors’ Camp head guide, Moses Manduku and his guest Mette Rokkjaer came across a female elephant with a bad leg wound which appeared to have been caused by a snare.
The snared elephant when it was encountered by our guests and guide Moses – photo credit
Moses immediately reported this to the Mara Triangle rangers and waited for them to arrive in order that they could assess the situation. Unfortunately it was already quite late in the evening and a vet would not be able to be mobilised until the following day.
We reported the issue to The Mara Elephant Project team who were able to assist in rallying a fast response the next day. Numerous teams (including our guides) scanned every bush the next morning but the cow could not be found.
Eventually she was spotted deep within an inaccessible marsh area late in the afternoon. Luckily MEP’s helicopter was on hand to drive her out into the open where a Kenya Wildlife Service vet could safely dart her and attend to her serious wound.
Removal of the snare – photo credit Sheldrick Trust / KWS Vet
Once darted and sedation took effect, the treatment commenced starting with the snare removal as well as disinfecting and packing the wound with healing green clay to stem sepsis and aid in faster healing.
Snare removed – photo credit Sheldrick Trust / KWS vet
Packing of the wound with healing green clay – photo credit Sheldrick Trust / KWS vet
Once up, she walked off and seemed to be relieved to be rid of the excruciating pain that the snare must have been causing her. She had a young calf to look after so it was even more important that she was treated in order that she could fully care for her baby.
We would like to thank our guide Moses and our guests for reporting the incident and forgoing their afternoon game drive in order to wait for the rangers to arrive; their concern is what surely saved the life of this endangered animal.
Dr Elena Chelysheva runs The Mara-Meru Cheetah Project and has been working in the Masai Mara for over 13 years now. She has a deep knowledge of the individual cheetahs living in the ecosystem and loves to share her experience with others.
Dr Elena Chelysheva of the Mara-Meru Cheetah Trust – photo credit Fernando Faciole
For guests visiting any of our four Mara properties, we highly recommend a cheetah-focused game drive as well as an in-camp presentation given personally by Dr Elena. “A minimum donation of $150 (for between 1-5 guests) is required for a presentation”.
We were pleased to be able to provide some funding recently to help ensure that the organisation continues to run smoothly.
Mugie Bloodhound Unit
The goal of this team is to support Mugie Conservancy and the surrounding communities in solving wildlife crimes and incidents of livestock and property theft as well as catching trespassers onto Mugie. There are currently three working dogs; female Ulinzi, as well as males Tusker and Martin. Governors’ Mugie House guests are welcome to visit them at their kennels where they are able to experience a demonstration of just how keen the dogs are at tracking down a scent.
One of Mugie’s tracker dogs – photo credit Fernando Faciole
We supported the upkeep of one of the dogs (food, medical and training) for Ksh 25,000 last month.
The severe drought in Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba continues unabated and the number of Grevy’s zebras that are feeding from the supplementary feeding program has increased. There have been a few showers in Samburu North, however without sustained rainfall, there won’t be true recovery taking place anywhere, so we continue to hope that the short rains materialize in the next couple of months.
Supplementary feeding – photo credit Grevy’s Zebra Trust
We wish to thank those who sent through donations in order to support the supplementary feeding effort. The funds raised allowed the GZT to add a further 50 bales of hay into the overall effort.
Many of you may recall our July blog in which we mentioned two rehabilitated vultures that were released by The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust on Soysambu last month.
The Ruppell’s vulture ready for release – photo credit Kenya Bird of Prey Trust
The Ruppell’s being fitted with a GPS tracker prior to release in July – photo credit Kenya Bird of Prey Trust
We are incredibly saddened to report the death of one of those two birds, the Ruppell’s vulture we had fondly named “Defender”.
The Ruppell’s vulture released just six weeks before it was poisoned – photo credit Nick Penny
You may be asking what could explain how a young vulture, released in perfect health just six weeks before, could be found dead.
The poisoned Ruppell’s vulture – photo credit Kenya Bird of Prey Trust
There were no injuries present, he had a full crop (a muscular pouch located on the front of a bird’s neck which serves as a storage place for food) and no other animal had scavenged from his carcass.
Whilst we await official necropsy results, all evidence points to poisoning by the illegal pesticide Furadan. For almost three decades, Furadan poisoning has been used by rural farmers in Kenya as a retaliation method to illegally target and kill predators such as hyenas, lions and leopards following predation on livestock.
Livestock carcasses are laced with the poison and left out to kill wildlife indiscriminately and inhumanely. Not only do the predators die, but also countless other species which come to scavenge off the carcass. The poison is so potent that it has a cascading effect through a food web, as poisoned animals will in turn poison other creatures in the ecosystem.
It has had devastating effects on populations of birds of prey across Africa, especially vultures, tawny eagles and bateleurs, as these birds are often first to scavenge from carcasses. The area where our Ruppell’s was found (which was close to Tsavo East National Park) is rife with this type of human-wildlife conflict due to the high density of both humans and wildlife. This incident highlights one of the very real threats that birds of prey are facing today.
We are appealing to you to please help us in both raising awareness by sharing this story and raising funds that are so desperately needed for the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust. Any funding raised through this appeal will enable them to distribute anti-poisoning response kits to scouts in rural areas that will allow for a faster first response to a poisoning event. Such kits have been independently identified by multiple vets as a top priority to try and combat this awful activity.
Each kit costs USD100 / Ksh 12,000 and is sufficient to attend a poisoning event that could help to save the lives of many birds. Please consider making a donation via our secure online payment link today using the donation reference “Vultures”.
One poisoning response kit can save the lives of many birds at one poisoning event.
We wish to sincerely thank those who have already donated. Through your kindness, we have been able to raise funds for two kits so far! In September, Governors’ Camp Collection will donate a further eight kits.
In happier news, the second vulture that was released on the same day as Defender, the white-backed named 101 has made it over to the Masai Mara and was last spotted in the Mara Triangle having flown right over our camps!
GPS tracker data of the white-backed vulture, ‘101’, flying overhead Governors’ Camp – photo credit Kenya Bird of Prey Trust.
The white-backed vulture displaying his GPS back-pack prior to release – photo credit Kenya Bird of Prey Trust.
In August we provided 100 kilos of meat to help in feeding the birds in residence at the Naivasha Raptor Centre.
At the end of the month, Ollie Outram, a snake handler from BioKen visited Loldia Ranch in order to give a Snake Awareness presentation to our Loldia House guides, groundsmen, night watchmen and a few other interested members of staff.
He covered a range of topics including; why we need snakes, identifying venomous snakes (with a particular focus on those found in the Lake Naivasha region), what to do if you find a snake and how to keep snakes away. He also educated them on snake bites, especially with regards to first aid and if someone is bitten or spat at by a venomous snake.
A puff adder – photo credit Stephen Spawls
Community education is a very important tool for snake conservation since most Kenyans still consider all snakes to be dangerous and therefore tend to try and kill them out of fear. Yet in reality, of the 125 snakes found in the country only 31 are considered to be dangerous species and of these 19 are known to cause human fatalities.
Ollie Outram gives a presentation at Loldia House.
Ollie was able to demonstrate some snake handling techniques using a puff adder that he had brought along with him. This species, which is widespread throughout Kenya, is generally considered to be Africa’s most dangerous snake based on its powerful haemotoxic venom combined with the number of bites that it inflicts compared with other potentially more venomous species.
It was a wonderful opportunity for our team to educate themselves further and be armed with some basic knowledge and techniques which we hope they will share with other members of their communities across the country. We also hope to conduct such training sessions within our other properties.
Each month we aim to support the tee-planting efforts of this grass-roots organisation. Over the past two months we have provided Ksh 35,000 which shall enable the organisation to plant and nurture over 233 trees for three years, by which time they will be mature enough to grow well independently.
Indigenous tree seedlings are planted out across the hillside in order to increase the size of the forest – photo credit Fernando Faciole.
Back in June we supported a large-scale lake clean up effort that was organised by our partner the Lake Naivasha Riparian Association. They have recently released their report of the work carried out and it is estimated that 50 tons of nets and waste was removed from the lake. We thank our Loldia House team plus the other 103 boats and 460 volunteers for their hard work.
Clean up of Lake Naivasha – photo credits Lake Naivasha Riparian Association
The lake has been a RAMSAR site since 1990 due to its internationally recognised importance as a wetland. It is therefore of great importance for us to continue to do all we can to ensure the lake ecosystem remains healthy.
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.
By Alisa Karstad, Community and Conservation Manager for Governors’ Camp Collection.