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Bush Telegraph Newsletter

August 2014



Poaching Incident on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy 

Dear Friends of Ol Pejeta,


At 7.00 pm on Thursday 17th July 2014, the Ol Pejeta rhino patrol team reported gunshots near Buffalo Plain. As per protocol, the SecurityDepartment immediately dispatched a response team. Unfortunately, the poachers escaped and managed to injure one rhino.


The targeted animal was an eight year old female black rhino named Malkia, who had birthed her first calf exactly a month prior to the attack (June 17th, 2014). During the attack, the calf was separated from her mother and ran into a pride of lions. She was killed.


Tragically, Malkia also died. She succumbed to her injuries a day after the attack.


We remain devastated by this loss and you can rest assured that we will continue to review and improve every aspect of our security operations. Today, poaching has reached unprecedented highs. As the price of rhino horn has surpassed that of gold, poachers are willing to take greater risks.


Please do not hesitate to contact our CEO, Richard Vigne, if you have any questions about this incident. He can be reached on richard.vigne@olpejetaconservancy.org






Whilst the news coming out of Kenya over the last month has not all been entirely positive, all the areas in which we operate our safaris have not been affected and continue to offer our guests spectacular safari experiences. We have had wonderful sightings of the early arrival of the wildebeest migration and our clients are reporting superb leopard, lion and cheetah sightings.


Guests at Loldia House have had lots of lovely leopard sightings and night game drives have been fruitful on the ranch with Aardvark seen out foraging. At Mfangano Island Camp the gardens are in full bloom and the otter family has returned to the bay, out new suites are complete and Mfangano island offers the perfect retreat for those wanting an idyllic, relaxing island hideaway.


At Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge new Managers Finlay and Wendy take their first trek to see the mountain gorillas and reading Wendy' blog is like reliving this amazing experience yourself. The Sabyinyo community association SACOLA has been celebrating their development achievements to date and in the Mara we delivered new uniforms to all the children of a nearby community school.



Game report Masai Mara June 2014


Early on in the month we had many overcast days that began with warm morning temperatures, there was little rainfall (71mm), often following hot humid days, which all in all was perfect weather for the grass to grow. Towards the end of the month early morning temperatures were as lows as 16C while midday temperatures were as high as 30C.


Latterly the weather conditions improved with clear skies and soft coloured sunrises and sunsets. The Musiara, Bila Shaka and Marsh grass levels are short with patches of green. The marsh water levels rose a little during mid-month with water rising over the road. In Rhino Ridge and riverine pockets of Paradise Plains there are some longer grasses. 



  Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


The Mara River rose up four feet during mid-month and then slowly subsided as clear conditions continued with cooler morning temperatures.



General game


With sporadic rain the resident and a few of the non-resident wildebeest moved in and around the short grass plains of Musiara and the Masai conservation areas. On the 25th June we saw the first substantial crossing of the month, when an estimated 10,000 gnus in two herds crossed the Mara River at the mortuary crossing point. Two were taken by crocodile and more perished while crossing.


On the 4th June the bulk of the migration where seen heading towards the sand river area which lies to the south west of the Masai Mara, rainfall patterns here and further west caused this movement. By the 11th of June this movement had turned back west.


 Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


For the remainder of the month of June small rain showers fell causing the resident wildebeest and zebra and the spearhead of the main group of wildebeest that came in in the last week of May to go back and forth between the Masai conservation areas and then back towards the Musiara, Marsh, Topi, Rhino ridge and Bila Shaka grassland plains. Crossings on the Mara river at Paradise have been going on since the last week of the month with estimated of 10-15000 animals at a time, many were taken by crocodile, on the 28th a good number crossed at the rocky crossing with at least 20 animals that died while crossing and this was often the case when the wildebeest all converged on a narrow exit and the exit passage ways get wet from massing bodies and hoofs. At each crossing up to three animals were being taken by crocodile. On the 30th at 3.00pm a large number of wildebeest estimated by guides at over 20,000 crossed the Mara River at the main crossing point, one was seen taken by crocodile and three were seen floating down. There were also wildebeest crossing the Mara River at night or very late in the evening.



Photo courtesy of Morag Ferguson


This month is the wildebeest rut with males holding short term territories while herding as many females into their holding grounds as they can manage. During the rut males canter back and forth while cavorting and sparring with one another as they make their way through sways of female herds who keep moving or staying put for a short time as the available grazing dictates. Some of the sparring contacts on their horn bosses are sharp and although sparring bouts only last a few seconds they are able to lose and dislodge one side of a horn, which renders the males courting days well and truly over.


The resident lion prides within the marsh and Bila Shaka have been feeding heavily on the zebra and wildebeest with two or three a day being taken.


Giraffe have been seen within the acacia woodlands in the Masai conservation areas, interestingly like elephant, giraffe seem to be sensitive to the presence of wildebeest and zebra when the wildebeest and zebra numbers moved out temporarily more giraffe were visibly being seen.



Photo courtesy of Alexis Reddy


Elephant have been seen in small numbers. The small family units that were around in the early weeks there were many small calves, one female had no tusks and her facial structure indicated that perhaps she never had tusks which are extended canines in Elephant.


The Olive baboons have been struggling for food so with this lack of good rainfall they are leaving their roosts earlier in the morning and travelling much further out, often long way beyond the Marsh in an easterly direction, with this distance away from their more preferred and natural foraging grounds they feel more exposed, the larger male baboons will sit sentry on termites mounds as families continue to forage.


Topi are in good numbers in the west side of the Marsh, Rhino Ridge and Topi Plains. A few cokes hartebeest will also be seen although this month they appear to be more widespread with Rhino Ridge and Paradise Plains being good places to see them.



Photo courtesy of Alexis Reddy


Small herds of Eland are being seen in the East and west side of the marsh, Paradise Plains and Rhino Ridge. On Rhino Ridge two large dimorphic males were seen during mid-month, a bull Eland that is in breeding regalia is a large animal who has put on bodily condition and grows a velvet mat of hair on his forehead, some large southern bulls this mat of hair will reach the sides of their necks.


Grants gazelles are close to the Marsh and also at Bila Shaka, more fawns are being seen, on the 21st a Male Olive baboon tried to tak a fawn but the mother, on seeing its young being caught, chased the Baboon who released the fawn. It certainly appears that Grants Gazelle mothers are more formidable towards predators than many other gazelle species here in the Mara. Thompson gazelles are more commonly seen in the short grass plains.


Warthog remain throughout the short grass plains, many sows are pregnant so hopefully towards the end of July we should start seeing piglets. The north side of Rhino Ridge is always a good place to see many warthog, the Marsh lion have worked this out a long time ago and warthogs making up a large part of their diet during lean times. The warts on the face of warthogs (boars have two extra) are cartilaginous growths and are use as buffer cushions for when boars spar for estrous sows.



The pair of Side stripped jackals are still being seen on Rhino Ridge, these canids are still a bonus sighting for game viewing.



Photo courtesy of John Lyall


Two further sightings of Aardwolves; one sighting was near Topi plains in the early evening of the 19th June and the other was on the 23rd in the early morning outside of the reserve in the north conservation areas of Masai land. One porcupine was seen on the 24th near the Hippo pool at the airstrip area at 6.45am, porcupines are not often seen, although they are prevalent here sightings of porcupines are slim. Earlier on in the month quills were seen near the Mara River at paradise and this could have been killed by a Leopard.


Good numbers of Spotted Hyena are resident on Rhino Ridge, Paradise Plains and there is another large clan on the north fan of Rhino Ridge looking onto Topi Plains. It was this particular clan that has been very active across the Silanga depression and were seen feeding off wildebeest on Topi Plains, 85% of what Spotted Hyena are eating has been killed by themselves.


Egyptian geese have been seen with newly hatched goslings especially around the Bila Shaka river bed.



Photo courtesy of Patrick Reynolds


On the 17th and 22nd two Black-necked spitting cobras have been seen one at Paradise plains and the other in the river bed that lies east/west of Topi Plains. The western species here in the Masai Mara can be very large and can be slate grey/Black in colour, some have lateral white bars on the throat or neck behind the head. These are a territorial snake while often seen sunbathing where they hole up or reside.





Musiara one for the breakaway lionesses has two cubs who were born at the end of May in the Marsh woodlands, she was seen on the 14th June and has been actively out since.


Marsh pride of 29 lion altogether with an additional two little ones from Musiara, there are 8 sub adult comprising six lionesses and two males Red and Tatu, they are all of varying age groups with five at 19 months and three of them at 22 months of age, Bibi, Siena, charm and the four musketeers. The little sub-adult lioness whose mother is Bibi is called 'Kabibi' meaning of Bibi. On the 12th June Kabibi and Bibi were seen near the Calvert with a freshly killed male Topi.


Musiara and her two cubs are residing within the copse of trees on the west side of the Marsh, she had killed two wildebeest on the 25th in the early hours of the morning, it was on this date that many Wildebeest were seen moving through the west side of the Marsh.



Photo courtesy of Moses Manduku


Siena has her three cub's two females and a male who are six months old they are all being seen mainly in the south west marsh regions and the Bila Shaka river bed. Siena's wound is looking much better, she is still with a scar which is drying up and healing very well. They have been feeding off the resident zebra and wildebeest that have been passing through in this last month. Two warthog have also been taken near the bottom end of the marsh river bed.


Scar and Morani seemed to be about most of the time while Sikio and Hunter moved between the Paradise areas and Bila Shaka. Last week of May and within the 1st week of June Sikio spent much time in the Paradise regions of the Mara River and it was said that he was seen in the Trans Mara although reports were not entirely concluded. On the 3rd a male lion was treated for a torn scrotum, this lion although very Similar to Hunter was not from the Musiara area and subsequently has not been seen since, soon after treating this male lion Sikio was seen limping heavily while on the north fan of Rhino ridge he was with the three other Musketeers who had killed two warthog that they had dug out. Sikio has since healed.



Photo courtesy of Alexis Reddy


Lippy and Jicho with their four cubs of which three are 9 months old cubs and one cub is 5 months old that was the offspring of Jicho. These cubs can be either seen either with Lippy or Jicho, they have been feeding off Zebra and Wildebeest. Most commonly seen within the Marsh environs from the west side to the east side depending where the main core pride is, there appears to quite a lot of friction between the Breakaways and the core pride members.


The Ridge/Topi Plains pride of 4 breeding females and to include Madomo and 3 sub adults who are 18 months old are being seen on Kries river bed and the Emartii side of Rhino Ridge. Times have been easier for them since the wildebeest and zebra have passed through here this month, prior to these ungulates coming through it was the topi and warthog who were the staple diet.


The paradise females who are three lionesses and their four cubs, two of which are 16 months old and the two are 21 months old. These are being seen mainly within the River areas of Paradise. Just recently the older of the lioness has taken liberty of being stationed at the rocky crossing point while the Gnus are crossing.


Moja the now nearly a four year old male has been seen more often on the top end of Rhino ridge, there are a few Buffalo and Topi in the longer grass areas of Rhino Ridge.


 Photo courtesy of Vicky Lyall




Romi the mother of the 20 month old male cub is still being seen frequently near the BBC camp site and towards the Little Governors crossing. The male sub-adult has latterly being seen often near the BBC camp site, the wooded areas close to IL Moran camp. Earlier on in the month the wooded copse at Lake Nakuru was the common place to see this young male.


Romi is often seen within the same areas, it is not uncommon for a sub adult male or female to habituate within its mother's home range, when he gets older then he will wander further afield, whereas the female may stay a little longer. Romi has been seen feeding off Impala, Impala fawns and Bushbuck recently. The male sub-adult has been seen taking young Baboons and Impala fawns.



Photo courtesy of Jacob Lelesara


The male of the paradise crossing areas has been seen in the croton thickets at the mortuary crossing points on many occasions this month.


The large male at the double crossing has been seen often, there is also a younger male who is also seen though sometimes they encroach over one another's home range, and two lots of leopard fracases have been seen happening between this younger male and the older male.





Two males whom are brothers are the sub-adult offspring of Narasha are being seen between the double crossing and Topi plains. They have been hunting and feeding off young wildebeest calves and Thompson Gazelles.



Photo courtesy of Maina Wachira


A female on the Ngiatiak River was seen during mid-month, she had killed a young female Thomson gazelle.


Another younger female was seen on the 22nd near the Musiara gate she was hunting Thompson gazelles and managed to kill a fawn although soon as she had taken it down two spotted Hyena took it off her.


On the 30th at 10.00am a young female was seen on Topi Plains, in fact this very female has also been seen near Emartii which is the East end of Rhino Ridge. Another female with one cub is being seen near the Ngiatiak River perhaps in the Olare Orok Conservancy. There is a female also being seen frequently on the southern rocky side of Rhino Ridge, on the 20th she was seen with a gash on her left front side which we suspect was the result of a warthog, this wound is looking dry and will heal in time.



Walking in the Mara North Conservancy


The walks picked up during mid-month, cool mornings started the day.

Grass levels are short with little leaf structure, what rain was received here gave way to a short season which the wildebeest had harbored very quickly.


Earlier on in the month there were large numbers of wildebeest and zebra who were scattered across most of the grassland areas of this conservancy. Rainfall was also localized and patchy enough though little grass coverage kept the wildebeest and zebra circulating between the reserve and conservancies. Spotted Hyena have been actively hunting the wildebeest and zebra within the conservancy. Elephant have been seldom seen although there were signs that they had passed through the Acacia woodlands.

Two large breeding bulls were seen on the Rocky hill and also within the Acacia woodlands that are in the eastern areas of the conservancy.


Many Bat Eared Foxes have been seen sunning themselves in the southern area of the conservancy, this is typical of these foxes to see them just before they go down to ground for the rest of the day.


There are signs of (Hodotermitinae) Harvester termite activity, these termites are fed upon by Bat Eared Foxes and Aardwolves who feed at night when the termites are mainly active. It is suggested that some scientists think that the fox can locate the termites by the sound the workers make as they chew the grass stems? It is true with reference to their name which implies the name 'Bat eared fox'


The harvester termite workers lay pheromone trails that they follow in order to make their way back to the nest opening. They follow the trails to bring food back to the nest. When these termites find a type of grass that they like, they often clear large patches.


The scattered rain showers on the short grass plain have brought on the little white 'tissue paper' flower, these flowers are also consumed by Baboons and humans alike can eat them.


Impala are seen particularly in the Acacia woodlands and Thompson Gazelles more so on the open plains. Good numbers of giraffe are also being seen throughout the acacia woodlands areas. These is a herd size that is over 30 animals yet they all at one time can be spread across quite an area. Giraffe calves will stay in loose creche's while mother browse nearby. Noted in this area giraffe were seen feeding on the cucumis (cucumis prophetarum) plant, this plant has a fruit which is yellow in colour and has a hairy skin, this is the first time that we have seen giraffe eating this cucumber vine.


Impala and waterbuck are ever present within the Acacia woodland areas. Topi will be seen on the short grass plains within the Eastern and southern areas of the conservancy.


Our first leopard of the season and by the shape and size of this cat we presumed it was a female, it was seen near the Euclea divinorum thicket and we were surprised that it was in such a hurry to move into the wooded area close to the salt lick, we then saw that there were four lionesses from where this Leopard was moving away from.


The acacia pride have been seen in the Euclea thicket, the croton thicket near to the 'fly over' and also within the Acacia woodlands whereby it was on the 28th 14 lion had killed two wildebeest. Unfortunately we were unable to get good clear views of these lion due to the nature of the woodlands and wind direction.


It seems this time of the year that Black necked spitting cobras are being seen more frequently, termite mounds and fallen acacia tree thickets are good place to see them, on the 29th a very large one was seen on the Olare Orok highland ridge, this snake had a black head and a slate grey/black body.




Jonathan & Angela Scott Blog




Kenya has been my home for forty years, my wife and daughter are Citizens, our Grandson Michael was born here and has made more safaris in his first year than many people will be privileged to do in a lifetime - and he has enjoyed a holiday at the coast. Right now Michael is on safari in Amboseli with his Mum and Dad and Grandmother who is visiting from England. He celebrates his first birthday in a week's time.


Four weeks ago this prompted me to write an article that appeared in the travel section of the Saturday Telegraph in the UK - the land of my birth - telling people just how much Kenya needed tourism - that it was vital to our economy and to conservation. Without substantial revenue from tourism our wildlife will be even more vulnerable to poachers; setting aside wilderness areas for animals even harder to justify to land hungry humans. The article was circulated widely by the Kenya Tourist Board to encourage overseas guests to visit this wonderful country in the face of a barrage of Travel Advisories that have cast a long shadow over our tourism industry. If you look on a map you will see just what a tiny part of Kenya is prompting security concerns - yet the repercussions of recent events and the impact of Travel Advisories has been devastating and on a scale that in no way

reflects the situation in the country as a whole.


What a difference a month can make on this fast paced planet of ours. The World Cup has kicked off and the reigning champions Spain are already on their way home - with England not far behind them. But however disappointing, that is not what is preoccupying my attention right now. It would be easy to feel despondent reading headlines telling the world of renewed loss of life on the Kenya coast not far from the ancient city of Lamu, together with the killing of Satao barely a month after the death of Mountain Bull, two might 'tuskers' slaughtered for their magnificent ivory tusks worth nearly US$ 2,000 a kilo in the Far East. The bulls were in their mid to late 40s and had lived through events both locally and internationally that have blighted Kenya's tourism industry in the past - the bombing of the Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi on New Year's Eve 1980/81; the Gulf War of 1990/91; the bombing of the American Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 and the political violence that erupted at the time of Presidential elections in Kenya in 1997 and 2007. Despite these setbacks the tourism industry has always shown a resilience thathas enabled it to dust itself down and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But make no mistake these are difficult times. All the more reason then to redouble our commitment to Kenya, put our fears in to perspective and to 'light a candle rather than curse the darkness.'Terrorism and poaching go hand in hand. They feed on fear and insecurity. The battle to save our planet's increasingly endangered wildlife might appear to be a lost cause whether attempting to protect the last few thousand wild tigers in Asia or stemming the catastrophic epidemic of elephant and rhino poaching in Africa. Even the Masai Mara where Angie and I continue to follow the lives of its charismatic big cats has seen an alarming upsurge in poaching in recent months with reports of 117 elephant carcasses new and old discovered during a census of wildlife in the Reserve - minus their tusks. At times like these it is understandable to feel powerless and downhearted. But each individual can contribute in a meaningful way by simply holding up their hand and saying 'NO' to the killing.

When I was working on a book on leopards in the 1970s it was estimated that 50,000 leopards were being trapped, shot and poisoned across Africa each year for their beautiful spotted coats. In the 1980s a brilliantly orchestrated advertising campaign writ large on billboards and in cinemas across Europe and America turned the tide in the fight against fur with graphic images from photographer David Bailey showing a model dragging a blood soaked fur coat above the words: "It takes up to 40 dumb animals to make a fur coat but only one to wear it." And in 1989 when Kenya set fire to 12 tons of ivory in Nairobi National Park it caught the imagination of the general public, helping to change people's perceptions and leading to a ban on the trade in ivory that same year. But as recent events have shown we must always be vigilant on behalf of wildlife - some people are wearing fur again, some never stopped. And until China bans ivory imports the killing of our elephants will continue apace.


We are not alone in our commitment to change. Kenya is loved around the world for the warmth of its people and the wonder of its great migration of wildebeests and zebras. Right now the animals are thundering in to the Mara in their tens of thousands. This is the time to be there to witness the greatest wildlife show on earth. If my fellow 'Brits' are pondering the wisdom of visiting Kenya they can do no better than embrace the Stay Calm and Carry On attitude of their own Royal Family who have lost loved ones to acts of terrorism in the past - the Queen's cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA in Ireland (along with three other people including his grandson Nicholas), when a bomb detonated on his fishing boat in 1979. They live with the threat of terrorism wherever they are in the world.


Prince William and his wife Kate are one of the most recognizable and iconic couples on the planet - and great friends of Kenya. The Prince proposed to his future bride while on holiday in the country. Like his father Prince Charles, William is passionate about wildlife and recently launched United for Wildlife bringing together a coalition of conservation groups committed to making a difference. Under the banner of Whose Side Are You On, and harnessing the power of charismatic sports personalities such as football's David Beckham, motor racing's Lewis Hamilton, cricket's Raul Dravid, rugby's Francois Pienaar and China's basketball superstar Yao Ming, United for Wildlife is mounting a Social Media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Google to spread its message to all corners of the earth. Imagine if we could engage Kenya's beautiful and talented Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o alongside our world beating sportsmen to show solidarity with a campaign that will help protect our own wildlife? Knowing Kenyans they will.


One might draw some grain of consolation from the loss of the world's wildlife if it was the disadvantaged and impoverished among us who were benefiting from the carnage - the people losing their lives and jobs right now. But it is not. It is the rich and greedy - and seemingly untouchable - who are turning a vast profit from the illegal trade worth US$ 5 - 20 billion annually, as is the case with the other major criminal activities that are such a stain on our character: trafficking in drugs, weapons and people across the globe. A friend recently sent me artwork depicting The Earth's Land Mammals by Weight. It showed all too graphically just how much of our planet we humans and our livestock - cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and horses - already occupy. Wildlife is being squeezed out of the landscapelike never before. Africa's 450 to 500,000 elephants are barely visible in the larger picture. So how will things look with another 2 billion people on this earth by 2050? We must act now.

When it comes to tourism wildlife is Kenya's greatest asset as one long time resident reminded me in his response to my recent article. "The world is littered with beautiful places that lure vacationers. Many have beaches, sunshine, great food and lovely people.....just as Kenya does. However Kenya's amazing wildlife is its advantage over all those other destinations." With so many options for travellers these days we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. Our tourism product has to be competitive in price and services if it is to keep topping up our foreign exchange coffers so we can continue to conserve 'world heritages' like the incomparable Masai Mara. That is why tourism is so vital to this country along with the tens of thousands of jobs it helps to create.

The message we wish to send to our friends overseas is this: 'Sign up to the Why I Love Kenya campaign as you plan your next safari. Lend your collective voices to United for Wildlife by embracing the challenge of Whose Side Are You On. If you do that today we all stand to benefit - people and wildlife the world over.


It may be too late for the iconic Mountain Bull and Satao, but we can still honor their memory.


Jonathan & Angela Scott Maasi Mara

Giraffe mother uses its long limbs to fend off entire pride of lions and save its young calf


Any mother would stick their neck out to defend a child.


But this giraffe goes beyond the call of duty for her calf, taking on an entire pride of lions - and winning.



The tall creature, filmed at the Olare Conservancy in the Masai Mara reserve, Kenya, was caught on camera as the ravenous predators saunter towards it.



The giraffe was approached by the gang of hungry lions, but kicked out at them



The pride of lions rush away when they are confronted with the giraffe's hard hooves but the giraffe, which has its offspring sheltering between its legs, seemed in no mood for letting the lions win their meal.


When the beasts, moving as one, start to bolt towards her, she fends them all off by aggressively waving her long legs towards them.


A tense stalemate follows, after which the lions remember that discretion is the better part of valour and move on.


The encounter was captured by tourists Bill and Barbara Westbrook on a visit to the Kicheche Bush Camp.



Get back! The giraffe sends the lions into a panic after lunging forward with its legs



The patient hunter: The lions then try to approach from behind, but are repelled



The dramatic confrontation, in a Kenyan safari park, continued for around half an hour


The couple, from Queensland, Australia, often visit the park but say this is the most incredible encounter they have seen.


Mrs Westbrook said: 'This was remarkable, going on for almost half an hour as the mother protected her calf ferociously from the young pride.

'It was heart-in-the-mouth stuff as we felt we might be witnessing something brutal as the casual menace of the sub-adult lions showed little signs of abating.


'Eventually the giraffes got away and we breathed again.'


Rhinos and Tractors, Closer than Ever!


The Lewa campaign for a new tractor has reached almost half of the total goal, with more than $12,000 raised online so far and another $12,000 in direct donations.


Campaigns for core needs are never easy. A donation made directly to the care of baby rhinos or the schooling of children leaves the giver with an instant sense of connection to the cause. Fundraising for something like a new tractor requires donors who can see the big picture of how Lewa operates and the broad impact the work has on people and wildlife alike.




Hope checks out the bald tires on the old machine -- he agrees it's not safe to operate 

Kilifi comforts Nancy, who is worried about what the logistics team will do without a new tractor . . .

Nicky, Hope and Kilifi take a nap next to the old tractor

Your Impact


Our heartfelt thanks go out to all of those who have so generously given. Lewa is only able to carry out its mission as a catalyst for conservation thanks to the kindness of its donors!


Lewa's logistics teams cannot operate without a tractor, and logistics is the lifeblood of Lewa's operations. Lewa's depth of experience and history of serving as an incubator for conservation innovation means that the organization now serves as the driving force or "engine room" for community conservation progress throughout northern Kenya.


It is not a stretch to say that a donation to Lewa's tractor campaign is one of the most effective ways to support community-conservation and wildlife protection initiatives across northern Kenya.


For more details on how crucial the tractor is to Lewa's work, click here. Thank you!








Last month, a team from NRT was invited to participate in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC, and we will report on this next month once they return - an exciting opportunity to promote NRT's work abroad.


June has brought great progress on a number of the pressing infrastructure works we are supporting, including completion of the Kalepo Headquarters in Namunyak, and the Nasuulu HQ south of the Ewaso Nyiro River. These are important achievements for the conservancies; helping with management operations, security, and giving a "face" to the conservancy for their members and the public. Westgate Conservancy and the coastal Conservancy of Awer have managed to procure new vehicles, which also helps greatly with security and management operations. A very significant event this month has been the Kom Peace Meeting. This brought together the Rendille, Samburu and Borana who have a complex political and historical background to their relationships, and who have seen much conflict prior to setting up conservancies. The meeting provided an excellent platform for the conservancies to discuss the potential conflicts that may be coming with the dry season, and the restricted grazing which could spark competition and conflict again. Good communication and mutual understanding between communities is the surest way of maintaining peace, which brings development and conserves wildlife.


Mike Harrison



Chief Executive Officer

Northern Rangelands Trust





Northern Rangelands Trust Wins Equator Prize!



NRT are thrilled to have been awarded the Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management in Sub- Saharan Africa, a recognition developed by the Equator Initiative in partership with the United Nations.

The Prize was collected by Doris Stela from Namunyak Conservancy and Kasoo from Il Ngwesi Conservancy who represented NRT at the colourful award ceremony held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi earlier this month. The two spent a week in Nairobi and attended several conferences and presentations put on by the UNDP, where they were able to exchange experiences and ideas with other grassroots organisations from all over Africa who share a similar vision to NRT.

The Equator Initiative aims to bring together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. The four main ways it achieves this is by:

  • Creating opportunities and platforms for grassroots organisations
  • Informing policy
  • Developing the capacity of local initiatives
  • Recognising the success of these initiatives

Their annual Equator Prize is one of the ways in which these local initiatives can achieve recognition and win financial support for their projects. NRT was among the 35 organisations who stood out from the 1,234 nominations from 121 countries around the world. The prize was awarded for "outstanding local achievement in advancing sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities" and this must be accredited to each and every one of the NRT communities who are successfully managing their conservancies for a better future.


What's more, out of the 35 finalists, 26 have been chosen to attend the high-level awards ceremony at Lincoln Centre in New York in September 2014, as a contribution to the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit. NRT is one of those finalists, and we very much look forward to sending a representative from one of our member conservancies to the USA to attend.



Inside NRT - Sustainable Rangeland Management


The communities that share Kenya's northern rangelands have firm roots in pastoralism, having grazed the harsh terrain for decades. But increased populations and livestock herd sizes combined with ever unpredictable weather patterns have amplified pressure on natural resources in the recent years, and grazing cattle has become a volatile livelihood. Unplanned, over-grazing has resulted in degraded areas of rangeland prone to erosion, poor soil unfit for growth, and an exodus of local wildlife. This, of course, heavily affects tourism prospects, and the chain continues.

The seeds for the grazing management programme, now operational in several NRT conservancies, were sown in 2008. Members from the West Gate Community Conservancy, along with several NRT staff, embarked on a study tour to Zimbabwe, organised by NRT and the Grevy's Zebra Trust. They saw firsthand how holistic management of the land has lead to a drastic rehabilitation in livestock health, wildlife numbers and grass cover in Dimbangombe Ranch in the north of the country. Central to this holistic management is the carefully planned grazing of the cattle. The traditional scattered grazing means that vast areas are constantly browsed, leaving no time for land recovery. At Dimbangombe, cattle are bunched in tight herds. They eat what's in front of them and their many hoofs break up the hard pan soil. When the herd is moved on, the soil is left perfectly picked over and mixed with fertilizer, allowing grass to grow back very quickly. In 10 years, Dimbangombe has transformed from a barren landscape, devoid of wildlife and useless for livestock, to a highly productive and lush rangeland that supports 550 head of cattle and numerous wildlife species.



 In northern Kenya, unplanned, over-grazing has resulted in degraded areas of rangeland prone to erosion, poor soil unfit for growth, and an exodus of local wildlife. This, of course, heavily affects tourism prospects, and the chain continues.


The holistic rangeland management programme was trialled in West Gate Community Conservancy shortly after this trip. The first phase involved 200 head of cattle owned by 20 pastoralists, on a designated 1,200 ha of land in a buffer zone. Cattle were bunched, then moved together to the next area so that the ground could rest. The conservancy also conducted a perennial grass reseeding programme and began eradicating the invasive Acacia. This led to such an improvement in rangeland condition that the conservancy was able to increase the number of cattle in the area to 500 head, belonging to over 102 families, the following season. Furthermore, there was an obvious difference in the condition of the cows which had been involved in the grazing programme, and those who had not. The ones that had, fetched a better price at market than their age-mates who had been grazed traditionally, often selling for around 7,000 Kenyan shillings (US$83) more.

Oryx, Grevy's zebra and other wild herbivores started to return to these areas they had previously shunned for lack of forage too. The programme is now operational in several NRT member conservancies. A total of 307, 481 hectares of community land have now been put under planned grazing. 624 hectares have been rehabilitated through the clearing of invasive plant species, and reseeding of degraded land is ongoing in 5 conservancies. In September 2013, NRT organised for grazing coordinators from Sera, Il Ngwesi, Lekurruki, Mpus Kutuk, Naibunga and Biliqo Bulesa to go to Dimbangombe and learn more about the programme that inspired those members of West Gate a few years ago. Two young Moran warriors from Meibae and Kalama also attended. Everyone returned to Kenya inspired and informed, with nothing but positive feedback about the trip. It is hoped that by engaging more conservancies in this type of grazing management, that more communities in northern Kenya will start to see a transformation in degraded rangelands, and reap the numerous benefits it can bring to cattle, wildlife and tourism.