We literally hit the ground running, after our successful Lion Proof Boma Construction in Amboseli, fresh with the Naigwanani title, we were definitely keen to keep the good work up.
Our next mission was a vital de-snaring mission in Machakos. After our arrival in the area, we held meetings with the Warden in charge of the Machakos Conservation area, and our host, Stephen Tankard, the Director of Twiga Retreat. Mr. Brian Nicol, a property owner in the Machakos area kindly donated 70 litres of clean bottled drinking water for the team. I guess this was in recognition of the many miles the team covers daily on foot – which can only be aided by water! Mr. Brian later joined us for our anti-poaching and de snaring operations. The continued demonstration of goodwill and support from many other stakeholders and community members continues to give immense encouragement to our team.
On our first day, we found a poacher’s den, where we recovered extensive evidence related to the massive consumption of wildlife. We came across Wildebeest meat and hooves, Ostriches eggs, a Zebra’s tail end, Hartebeest’s horns, poisoned arrows, a spear, Machetes, hunting spotlights, among many other wild animal products. The Warden in charge of Machakos, Mrs Eunice Kiarie, who was with the team at the time, took up the issue. As I write this blog, the local Kamba radio station Musyi FM continues to broadcast details of the poacher who is still in hiding. The investigation team of KWS continues to take poaching cases seriously.
Each day, our hope is to find less and less snares. Indeed, a “no snare” scenario would be our best day. Sadly, however, we have seen an increase in poaching in recent months.
Our team, made up of Martin Nduru, Natalie Waithera, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya volunteers Winnie and Simon, Twiga Retreat team lead by Mr. Stephen Tankard and the Kenya Wildlife Service team lead by Warden Eunice Kiarie, have achieved a huge amount over the last few days.
As well as de-snaring, we have also held several education sessions with the community members – who turned up in their hundreds! Our Mizoga film, designed for the Kenyan audience, has continued in its popularity and is effective in addressing the bushmeat problem Kenya and most of Africa continues to face.
Nothing excites our team members more than seeing local communities participating and supporting our conservation initiatives. Our wildlife needs greater involvement from the communities, hence our continued emphasis in reaching out to them.
On the last day of our mission Mr. Tankard notified us of a male Giraffe, which was in ill health after suffering from various leg injuries (related to snares). We all swung into action and although it took a few hours for us to get the Kenya Wildlife Service Vertinary Doctor, we left Machakos a happy team after the successful treatment of the male Giraffe. The memory of the magnificent animal struggling to its feet and quietly walking away after the treatment, is still fresh in our memories.
As we approach the festive period, we hope our work will continue bearing more fruits. We collectively look forward to a future full of people who appreciate animal rights and who preoccupy themselves with deeds that seek to improve the biggest heritage Kenya boasts of – Wildlife! In the New Year, we will keep you in the loop on our different encounters while in the bush. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to miss out!
Victor Mutumah- Born Free Foundation, Kenya.