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MAASAI MORANS, FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE FOR WILDLIFE IN THE MARA


 
 

There is beauty in ownership. Ownership of a project, property and even rights. But there is greater beauty in conservation when a community owns iconic wildlife heritage bestowed on them and willingly offer to defend them. This is the story of community scouts in the greater Maasai Mara ecosystem.
 

Imagine a family in a remote part of Kenya, offering its most able-bodied and promising sons of the soil to join a paramilitary training for the sole purpose of producing well-trained young men to protect wildlife. This is a most worthy sacrifice. And it is not that the young men, traditionally known as ‘morans’ have little or nothing to do. The Maasai’s are well known to be nomadic pastoralists and the young men could fit in very well to take care of the hundreds of herds owned by their families. But they opt for the former. A more worthy duty to humanity.
 

It suffices to note that the community jointly owns the greater Maasai Mara ecosystem with some pockets being privately owned while others have been converted into private wildlife conservancies. This means that the management of the wildlife in the Maasai Mara ecosystem is in the hands of the community through the local county government. In addition, in Kenya, more than 70% of wildlife is found in unprotected land, again, communities own that.
 

As we celebrate World Ranger Day this year, let us all recognize the important role played by these daring and passionate community scouts who have offered to be the first line of defense for our wildlife. They are simply ordinary community members with the extra-ordinary responsibility to protect Kenya’s wildlife heritage.
 

Maasai Mara is the home of more than 50 - black rhinos. Concerted effort through the assistance of WWF has seen the rhinos micro-chipped to enable their easy monitoring and surveillance. (Insert Video link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Mze7oWTHA).
 

In the Mara Triangle, a considerable rhino population thrives all thanks to a dedicated team of Community scouts who keep vigil to keep marauding poachers at bay. In this video shot by global news network CNN as part of highlighting WWF’s work in protecting wildlife in the Mara, daring community scouts engage and arrest armed poachers using the infra-red night cameras. (http://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/06/27/inside-africa-kenya-the-camera-that-catches-poachers-in-the-dark-a.cnn)/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGFJ1u4lRDI
 

Through the assistance of WWF, recently trained community scouts within the Oloisukut and Mara-Siana conservancy are now better equipped with wildlife monitoring equipment including binoculars, tents, sleeping bags, water bottles and smartphones with apps to identify wildlife locations within the ecosystem.
 

In my first assignment in WWF, I was privileged to attend and interact with fresh community scouts during their passout ceremony. (Insert Video Link here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=24XMG_DsTiQ) The raw energy and passion was just amazing. The two Geoffrey and Tom are true definitions wildlife defenders who abandoned their businesses to ensure future generations do not just read and watch in videos about iconic wildlife species like the rhinos and elephants.

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World Environment Day Celebrations 2017


On 5th June WWF-Kenya joined the world in celebrating the World Environment Day. The day is celebrated to raise awareness about the significance of a healthy environment and to rally for sustainable action to protect nature and Earth.
The national celebrations were held at Egerton University, Njoro Campus in Nakuru County. This year’s theme was ‘Connecting People to Nature’ and the slogan was ‘I‘m with Nature.’ Location of the event also brought good memory of WWF’s first active conservation work of the black rhino 50 years agoIn the Mara basin, WWF-Kenya participated in the clean up exercise of Suswa–Sekenani tourism corridor neighbouring the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The nine days event was aimed at creating awareness on solid waste management.
The exercise also aimed to inform citizenry on the importance of clean environment for human and wildlife. In Nairobi, WWF-Kenya staff, UNEP staff, Ambassadors, Student leaders from the Kenya Inter-University Environment Student Association (KIUESA) and Conservation Stakeholders were hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Sara
Hradecky at her official residence in Gigiri. The cocktail event was held to allow participants reflect on this year’s World Environment Day theme of ‘Connecting People to Nature,’’ as they shared in an informal set up solutions on how to care for our environment alongside a photo exhibition of WWF-Kenya work.

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WWF-Kenya Earth Hour 2017

On Saturday, the 25th of March 2017, the Panda Family Globally celebrated yet another record-breaking Earth Hour event that swept across 187 countries and territories across the world as millions of people came together to take a stand for climate action. More than 3,100 landmarks switched off their lights and millions of individuals, businesses and organizations across seven continents stepped forward to change climate change. This year’s theme was “Shine A Light on Climate Action.” WWF-Kenya’s Call to Action for this year’s Earth Hour was “Keep the Mara River Flowing.”

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WWF-Kenya feted as the best conservation organization 

WWF-Kenya was recently feted for the second year running as the Best Conservation Organization in the Mara Basin during the 5th Mara Day celebrations. The organization was recognized by stakeholders led by the county governments within the basin for its key role in promoting sustainable use of natural resources (water and forest); support to communities well being and the protection of the African Elephant (Loxodonta Africana) and black rhino.

Mara Day is an annual trans-boundary event that is aimed at creating awareness of the importance of the basin in Kenya and Tanzania. This year’s celebration theme was Mara Conservation, My Responsibility and the event was held in Bomet County.

Protecting the Mara Basin is critical as it hosts unique ecosystem such as the Mau Forest Complex, Mara River and the world famous Mara National Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park. Mau Forest Complex, which is the largest remaining indigenous montane forest in East Africa and Kenya’s largest ‘water tower’, is also the source of Mara River.

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In harmony with nature

Nature strikes back in very unique ways. The community living around Geta Forest in Nyandarua County know this too well after years of being squatters and living in poverty and squalor in their initial selfish quest to destroy the forest in attempting to hit back at the ‘government.’

Breaking the notion held so strongly by many Kenyan communities; that forests as well as all other natural resources belong to the ‘government,’ and that they have no responsibilities to care for them has been the hallmark responsibility of many conservationists, post Kenya’s colonial period.

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New anti-poaching technology leads to dozens of arrests of wildlife criminals in Africa

WWF’s thermal infrared camera imaging and human detection software stops poachers in their tracks.


Three ghostly figures march at a steady pace from left to right across a grainy screen—a small caravan of poachers on the hunt for wildlife in the Maasai Mara reserve in Africa. The footage shows them moving confidently under the cover of night; the protected area encompasses more than 500 square miles, making the chances of bumping into a ranger on patrol slim at best.

Soon, a truck swerves into the frame and the figures drop to the ground. The vehicle zooms past their hiding spot, then circles back and stops several paces away. Rangers jump out and apprehend the poachers. It’s as though they can see in the dark.

And, in a way, they can.

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Engaging local communities for water managment 

Low yields, increasing sedimentation of rivers, depleting water resources and reduced livestock productivity are some of the harsh realities that communities living in the upper catchment of the Mara River have faced in recent years.

While only four decades ago the land of Merigi Village was covered by dense forest, today most of the forest has been cleared for homes and farmland, triggering a downward spiral for productivity in the region as the roots which had prevented erosion were removed, and soil and nutrients began to wash away into the river.

On the picturesque slope of the Merigi Hills in Bomet County, Kenya, lies the home of 45-year old Christine Kirui. In her jovial tone, Kirui – who is a mother of three – describes the situation in her village a few years ago, before the community embraced land management practices under the HSBC Water Programme.

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A new dawn for conservation as WWF-Kenya is officially launched

Conservation in Kenya and the region is set to get a notch higher following the official launch of WWF-Kenya on 24 October 2016. In a colorful luncheon held at the Intercontinental Nairobi and officiated by Her Excellency the First Lady of the Republic of Kenya Mrs. Margaret Kenyatta, WWF-Kenya was installed as a locally registered conservation NGO in Kenya as well as the official unveil of the organization’s Strategic Plan.

Speaking at the occasion the First Lady congratulated WWF-Kenya for being launched locally; citing the influential conservation role WWF has played in Kenya and other parts of the World over the years.

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