This important day was celebrated across the globe on the 21st of March. Forests filter the water that we drink and purify the air that we breathe. They provide us with life-saving medicines and boost our health and mental wellbeing when we are within them. They help us in the fight against climate change and they provide habitat for some of the most unique and diverse species on our planet.
Long-crested eagle, Eburru Forest – photo Credit Alisa Karstad
Yet our forests are under immense threat from loggers, farmers, diseases and droughts and are being lost at an alarming rate. In the past 100 years the world lost as much forest as it had in the previous 9,000 years; an area equal in size to the United States.
Stuhlmann’s blue monkey in the Eburru Forest – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Conserving and sustainably using forests is one of the best ways we can try to protect our planet and ourselves. We are proud to assist both Eburru Rafiki and The Rhino Ark/ Calgary Zoo Mountain Forest Conservation Partnership in their efforts to safeguard the Eburru Forest; a small fragment of a once large and intact montane forest.
Eburru is home to an abundance of species including the critically endangered Mountain Bongo antelope. When staying with us at Loldia House we highly recommend a visit into this unique forest – your visit helps to support indigenous forest-edge communities.
Sustainable honey harvesting by indigenous communities within the Eburru Forest – photo credit Harry Blakey
We are committed to supporting the important work that is carried out by The Kenya Bird of Prey Trust. Each month their small team must provide huge quantities of high-quality meat for the rescued birds in their care. The costs involved in purchasing the food and transporting it between the centres is around Ksh 100,000 each month.
Director Shiv Kapila with a Rüppell’s vulture at the Naivasha Raptor Center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
We know that raising these funds can be difficult for a small project, especially since many donors do not consider birds as worthy a cause as some of the larger, seemingly more charismatic animals like lions, elephants and rhinos.
The small team at the Naivasha Raptor Center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Yet we know that many of these birds are even more endangered and are much closer to tipping points that plummet towards extinction. Each individual bird is worthy of saving and we are proud to support the project and the hard work that they carry out. This is why we have covered the entire cost of food for the birds for a second month running.
An Elenora’s falcon, in temporary care at the Soysambu Raptor Center – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Following our Five-night Safari fundraiser raffle in February, we were able to distribute more than eight tons of food to twelve drought-stricken schools surrounding Mugie Conservancy in March.
Mugie food drive – photo credit Alisa Karstad
It was heart-breaking to hear from the teachers how each day, children come to school having walked many kilometres through the heat and dust, only to faint in class due to their hunger and thirst. Many schools lacked even a single drop of water.
Logorate Primary School – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Lera ECDE – photo credit Alisa Karstad
We spent over twelve hours travelling from school to school. It was extremely hot and dry with not a blade of grass in sight. Many families have had to move away in search of pasture and water; this explains why so few children were present in some of the schools.
The words of thanks that we received from teachers, students and parents were incredibly moving and we would like to pass on their deepest appreciation to each one of you who helped us to raise the funds required to provide this food.
We would also like to thank our partners, The Mugie Conservancy, for their vast logistical support and The Survey Police team for providing their lorry and personnel to move the supplies. Together we positively impacted hundreds of school children and their families.
In partnership with Seedballs Kenya, we donated 50 kilos of acacia ‘seedballs’ to Suguta Mugie Primary School. Half of these were Vachellia seyal (red acacia) and the other half were Vachellia gerrardii (Gerard’s acacia). ‘Seedballs’ are a novel approach towards mass tree planting for degraded areas.
Seedball donation – photo credit Nick Penny
Each black ball contains one indigenous plant seed, coated in charcoal dust which is held together by nutritious binders. This coating enables the seed to remain dormant, safe from marauding insects and seed eating birds/mammals, until such a time when rains arrive. Once the outer charcoal coating has been broken down the seed can begin germination. The nutritious binders provide an extra boost for the young seedling.
Since Laikipia finally started receiving much needed rain towards the end of the month we took the opportunity to distribute these seedballs. The children enjoyed scattering them around the school grounds and we hope that many will germinate quickly and take root successfully. Luckily this school has access to water throughout the year so the kids will be able to care for the seedlings as part of their environmental education activities.
We have now sponsored a total of six Moyo Foundation medical outreach clinics. These clinics bring medical supplies and expertise to people living in some of the most inhospitable regions of Laikipia and Samburu counties. Due to the drought that has crippled these regions, illnesses relating to dirty drinking water and malnutrition have been more prevalent.
Governors’ Mugie guide John Lomelo assists with the medical outreach clinic – photo credit Nick Penny
The Moyo Foundation works in partnership with The Mugie Conservancy and The Kenya Defence Forces to carry out their work. In recent weeks they have also received support from the Beyond Zero campaign which has enabled cervical cancer and breast screenings. It costs USD 250 to sponsor an outreach and the clinics will often see well over 200 patients in a day.
The Moyo Foundation sees over 200 people per outreach clinic – photo credit Nick Penny
Each month the community outreach team from Mugie Conservancy runs mentorship sessions in the local schools. Our guides from Governors’ Mugie are often involved in these sessions at Mugie Primary School.
Such talks aim to open up potentially difficult discussions ranging from sexual health, early marriages and teen pregnancies to STDs and drug abuse. They help to educate kids on a wide range of other topics from careers and menstruation to poaching, tourism and caring for the environment.
Governors’ Mugie guide Solomon Epodo hosting a Healthy Kids session at Mugie Primary School – photo credit Harry Blakey
Camera traps play a key role in monitoring wildlife movements across Mugie Conservancy. The identification of individual animals allows the conservation team to better understand the spatial ecology and interactions of identified animals.
We have been monitoring nocturnal wildlife around Governors’ Mugie and have documented some incredible records so far including; denning striped hyenas and aardwolves, a family of bush pigs and an aardvark!
Aardvark on Mugie – photo credit Nick Penny
Recently the outreach team from The Elephant Queen visited three of the surrounding communities that we are involved with (Aitong, Mara Rianda and Enkereri) to screen their cinematic masterpiece that chronicles the life of a particular elephant herd using a mobile cinema screen.
The Elephant Queen outreach team – photo credit Felix Rome
The Elephant Queen had its world premier several years ago, being shown on a big screen at Governors’ Camp at the time, so it was lovely to welcome back this film and to be able to show it to our community friends too in the various schools which we support in the area, adjacent to the Governors’ Concession area. Our Maasai friends, neighbours and hundreds of students enjoyed watching and learning all about the trials and tribulations facing the herd as they are led through times of plenty and times of drought in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem by their matriarch, Athena.
Students from Enkereri Primary School watching the film – photo credit Felix Rome
The team have been screening the film in schools, villages and towns all across Kenya for the past two years, paying particular attention to marginalised communities living in human-elephant conflict areas. Their passion and commitment towards sharing the film with people from all walks of life was truly inspiring.
Q&A time after the showing – photo credit Felix Rome
We were privileged to welcome them one evening to Governors’ Camp for a private screening for our guests and staff. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and we especially appreciated how all the little creatures were given their moment to tell their own story. Egyptian geese, dung beetles, chameleons, foam-nest frogs and bullfrogs are species so often overlooked in other documentaries, yet their life histories are just as (if not more) fascinating than some of the more iconic African species.
We were grateful to have come away from it having learnt some interesting facts; like how the tiny eggs of Killifish are moved from one drying up waterhole to another water body on the backs of the elephants! Elephants are keystone species in Africa and this documentary portrays many of the ways in which this is so. The film is a perfectly balanced mix of light-hearted humour and emotion. We highly recommend everyone watch it; it is available on Apple TV+.
We are always grateful to guests who wish to support our local schools, whether through in-kind donations or financial assistance towards school fees, teacher salaries and the like. During term times, guests are welcome to distribute donations themselves and meet the kids, or if they prefer, we can arrange to distribute supplies on their behalf.
This month stationery supplies were given to the students at Enkereri Primary School and Mara Rianda. Thank you to our long-time guests/tour leaders Clive Thomas and Jill Liebscher for their support of our “Packing for a Difference” initiative.
Photo credit Felix Rome
Vultures and scavenging eagles are rapidly declining across Kenya due to poisoning events. These events occur when livestock owners lace carcasses with illegal pesticide poisons in an attempt to retaliate against predators that they believe to have killed their animal.
Unfortunately, this method of indirect killing has the potential to kill hundreds of other animals, including scavenging mammals, birds and arthropods.
White-backed vultures on a buffalo carcass in the Masai Mara – photo credit Felix Rome
We provide regular financial support for the MRP in order to help with the general running of the project. This helps to ensure that their project coordinator is able to respond to poisoning events as fast as possible.
Livestock Herders Training sessions
Over the past seven months we have sponsored three Livestock Herders Training sessions that were conducted by our conservation partner The Mara Predator Conservation Program. Such training sessions help reduce the occurrence of predator-livestock conflict incidents. Herders are equipped with good herding practice skills and are sensitised on laws regarding compensation and penalties found in the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WMCA) of 2013.
The programme has also created a network of livestock herders who can report conflicts and sightings of predators to the Lion Ambassadors and other relevant authorities. Fifteen Lion Ambassadors are employed to operate in 15 zones across the Mara. They are instrumental in data collection of settlements, human-wildlife conflict and livestock. We hope to provide support for their salaries in the coming months.
Herder training photos – photo credit Felix Rome
Complimentary flights with Governors’ Aviation
As always, we provided complimentary seats in our Governors’ Aviation aircraft for the MPCP team in order to help reduce the running costs of the programme. This month we provided eight seats for various staff members, including Dr. Craig Packer, their Scientific Director, who is considered to be the world’s foremost expert on African lions.
Dr. Craig Packer flew with us on three occasions in March.
Predator Collaring Meeting
On the 22nd of March the MPCP hosted a meeting at their Predator Hub for various conservation stakeholders. Here we learned of some of the findings from data they have collected from the ten lion collars that they have deployed between 2019/2020, as well as their plans and reasons for collaring more predators (lions, cheetahs and wild dogs) in 2023.
MPCP Predator Collaring meeting – photo credit Felix Rome
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to support our work you can do so via our secure online payment platform link below