Mugie Conservancy, the location of our northern Kenya retreat Governors’ Mugie House, is a privately owned wildlife conservation area of almost 50,000 acres. This protected land provides critical habitat to a variety of threatened species including the reticulated giraffe.
Reticulated giraffe on Mugie Conservancy – photo credit Alisa Karstad
Reticulated giraffe have for a long time, been considered to be one of nine subspecies of giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata). However, recent genetic research is leaning instead towards the acceptance of four unique species of giraffe, which would result in the reticulated being considered its own separate species (Giraffa reticulata). This species or ‘subspecies’ is only found in the northern rangelands of Kenya, along with some little known populations persisting in southern Ethiopia and western Somalia. According to the IUCN Red List Assessment released in 2018, reticulated giraffe are estimated to have declined by over 50%, from a population of around 30,000 individuals 30 years ago, to just 15,000 individuals today. As such in November 2018, the IUCN Red List officially listed reticulated giraffe as ‘Endangered’.
Their populations are believed to have declined largely due to habitat loss, degradation, climate change and in some areas, poaching. Only an estimated 4% of their range is within government-managed protected areas, which means that private conservancies like Mugie are vital for securing a future for reticulated giraffe through sustainable coexistence between people, livestock and wildlife.
Reticulated giraffe – photo credit Josh Perret
In October 2020, Mugie Conservancy in partnership with San Diego Zoo Global, Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and the Twiga Walinzi, conducted an assessment of the reticulated giraffe population within the Mugie Landscape. Our Governors’ Mugie House team were delighted to be involved in the count by way of providing vehicles and guides to help with the surveying over the two days. The results revealed that there were 66 reticulated giraffe on the conservancy (17 males, 42 females, and 7 ‘gender unknown’, through analysis on GiraffeSpotter). This figure was higher than had previously been expected by the conservancy manager Josh Perrett. We hope that similar counts can be conducted on a regular basis in order that we begin to have a clear picture of the status of these most iconic animals to help with their long-term protection in the wild. The high density of giraffe on Mugie means that you are almost guaranteed a sighting of them if you are keen to see some of the unique “Northern Species” during your safari travels in Kenya.
The Mugie mascot, Tala, is an orphaned reticulated giraffe who can often be found wandering freely through the conservancy headquarters and we highly recommend that you try to pay her a visit at some point during your stay with us at Governors’ Mugie House!
Tala – photo credit Alisa Karstad
News recently shared by the Mara Predator Conservation Programme was that their research team initiated its annual intensive three-month monitoring session on the 1st of August, which will result in updated lion and cheetah densities for 2020. Lion collaring efforts continued and they successfully deployed three lion collars on adult pride of females, so that they now can monitor five lions, including four adult females and one sub-adult male. They recorded more cheetah births and a new individual cheetah was added to their database.
Photo credits Mara Predator Conservation Programme
A wild dog pack continues to be seen in the Lemek area, and another new group of four females have also been added to their database. Our community and conservation manager, Alisa Karstad, was incredibly lucky to see these four females in the Enonkishu Conservancy earlier on in the month. Wild dog were once abundant in the Mara ecosystem, however their population crashed to almost none in the early 1990’s due to an outbreak of canine distemper disease. The presence of these two new packs in the Mara is a beacon of hope for a revival of wild dog populations in the region.
Photo credit Mara Predator Conservation Programme
The MPCP community team also deployed 13 camera traps to monitor the effectiveness of various ‘boma’ (livestock enclosure) types in deterring predator attacks and also continued to work with their ten lion ambassadors in mitigating human-predator conflict and the wildlife clubs through village visits.
On Saturday the 14th of November, 1.7 tons of food and 80 soap bars were packaged into eighty support parcels for families surrounding the Mugie Conservancy in Laikipia; specifically in the West and South Western areas that border the conservancy such as Lower Lera, Arasoro, Lodabo and Naibor areas.
Photo credit Alisa Karstad
Each parcel is able to directly impact at least five family members (this amounts to 400 people receiving basic supplies which they would otherwise not have been able to afford).
Each family received 5kg of dried beans, 2kg of cooking fat, 5kg of sugar, 5kg of rice, a large cabbage, 1kg of tomatoes and 1kg of onions, 200g of salt, 100g of tea leaves and a bar of soap.
This work was 100% funded by the Chairman’s Foundation, via the Wilderness Trust and was the third event of its kind that we have facilitated in the region. We are filled with gratitude for the enormous amount of support that they have provided to our community neighbours over these past few months; not just in Laikipia, but also in the Masai Mara and at Loldia too.
We could not have done this without the solid help from the team at the Mugie Conservancy who arranged the purchasing and distribution of the parcels and were able to connect with the local communities on the ground to ensure a most impactful event.
If you would like to make a donation of any amount towards our community food drives, you can do so via our secure online payment link. As an indication of how the money is used, a $30 donation provides one food parcel to a family of five for one month. Thank you for all your support.
By Alisa Karstad, Community and Conservation Manager for Governors’ Camp Collection.