Due to the extended three year drought the wildlife in Kenya are dying at unprecedented rates. When you visit our camp there are dead carcasses littering the country side. For some odd reason it seems as though the Zebra are the most effected animals.
Animals are now in conflict with humans over grazing and watering areas. Even at our camp the wild animals eat the trees and if it were not for our Masai workers, we would not have any trees left.
We have been diligently monitoring the endangered Grevy's Zebra and the Wild Dogs. Until we raise enough money to begin aerial surveys we are limited to what we can see on the ground. We have two Masai workers in the bush monitoring a family of Grevy's Zebra. In the near future, we want to start our multiplication program with this family of Zebras. They are close to the camp and since they are endangered and our Chairman, Adam Tuller, is a Kenya Wildlife Service Game Warden, we are able to control potential poachers.
Poachers are having a field day in Kenya due to lax security and poor governance. Combined with the drought that is killing animals daily, there is an urgent need to assist the wildlife especially the endangered species. Due to constant roaming, and the need for aeriel surveys, we have found only a few wild dogs and they, just like street dogs, run off when they see people. Unfortunately, the area is so large, once they run it will take days to find them. Atleast the zebra do not run very far, they are easy to catch up with.
Thank you for your continued support. Your donations are enabling to local Masai community to protect a valued asset, the wildlife. This is how the Masai make their living, aside from livestock, so they have become the stewards over the wildlife. They stay for days or even weeks in the bush, looking and waiting for that animal to come by. Your donation is changing the way people view wildlife and allowing the local communities to benefit from their presence.
Our appointment with Stacy had been fixed for 09:30 hrs. We arrived few minutes past the agreed time at the gates of Karen Connections the friendly guards directed us to the offices of African Conservation Trust, or ACT as everyone around referred to it. We were warmly ushered into a well organised single room office. He is so humble and we wouldn’t expect him to be the guy we were to meet, but yes he is Stacy.
In this well-lit office was a gentleman who was calmly sitting in a corner and a bubbly lady, the two introduced themselves as Peter and Zipporah respectively. Before we could even sit down Stacy was already introducing us to the world of trees, trees and more trees.
One of the projects being undertaken by ACTS and particularly the one supported by global giving is based in Magadi. Magadi happens to be one of the driest regions in the country. With the aid of video and pictures, Stacy took us through what they are doing to keep this region habitable and productive; his message was quite simple and plain “plant trees”.
Stacey is so passionate about trees that we sought to know if he grew up planting trees, to our amazement, he is an American whose first love was working with children in the slums of Kenya, something he is still actively involved in and enjoys doing. Stacey was introduced to Mr. Adam Tuller by one of the Trustees of ACT. That's how his love for trees began. By the number of times Stacy mentions Mr Tuller and how much support they are receiving from him it’s quite evident how pivotal Tuller is to the organisation and his passion for environmental matters. Even though he is quite talkative it’s very easy to notice how a team player Stacy is as he keeps on referring some questions to Zipporah and Peter to elaborate on issues on the ground as he actually refers to him as “The Man on the ground”.
Stacy is so proud of having the local community on board of the project; he sees this as the first achievement of meeting their goal which is self sustainability. From the video clips its easy to see how everyone from school children to old women are involved in the conservation of the environment and this is Keeps a smile on Stacey’s face as this makes him yearn for the next day in Africa as a conservatist.
Zipporah is one happy lady. Immediately we got into ACT’s office she gladly offered a cup of coffee and for sure it was timely as it was quite a cold, chilly morning not to mention the location of the office which is basically located in a mini forest and so when they talk about trees we actually understand what they mean.
With an elderly beautiful grin on her face Zipporah does not hide her excitement of being associated with this organisation. Having lived long enough to understand exactly how the Maasai’s men have for a long time looked down upon their women folks, she feels very proud of how this has come of age as it’s so apparent with the current empowerment going on, women in the communities where ACT has had an opportunity to interact with are taking the front in the conservation of mother nature which has a polite way of paying back by giving them the conducive environment to do farming.
This initiative has greatly reduced the rate of malnutrition and dependent of handouts. Excess gotten from the farms is sold hence generating income for the families involved in the project. Zipporah's wish is they could have more support as this will greatly increase their presence and activities not just in Magadi but in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Zipporah is all smiles as he teases Peter on how the Maasai women can now go to work and girl go to school and compete with boys in all aspects of life.
As we leave ACT we promise ourselves to visit Magadi and share the experiences with the rest of the World.
PETER (Masai elder and beneficiary)
Peter - whom Stacy kept on referring to as the Guy on the ground - is a Maasai elder. Because of his position in the community - a community that respects hierarchy - he is a very important person for the project. Peter is composed and calm, from the looks you wouldn’t expect him to speak much but when starts talking about of the project you realise how much knowledgeable he is of the trees especially those that are suitable for the environment.
Peter is very proud when he sees members of his community embrace the initiative with so much enthusiasm especially when his fellow men in community allow women to go out and work, since time immemorial it has been a taboo amongst the Maasai community for women to go out and work as their place belonged to the Kitchen and child bearing. But since the inception of the project more and more Men are allowing their wives and daughters to go out and work for a living. Peter appreciates that when women are paid, they easily transform their earnings into food and savings for the family. On the contrary, Peter notes that men easily end up spending the same in non-beneficial ways, like drinking.
With trees and the involvement of women in the community is, he is aware that the future is bright. Self-sustainability of the community is not elusive as it has been widely conceived in the past. Peter says, "The Maasai goats and cows will have grass to graze on. There will be enough firewood for cooking and even selling."
The most important thing being that the environment will be conserved and food will be produced in plenty due to the nitrogen fixing plants.
Being an elder, Peter is happy that he is imparting knowledge to the future leaders of his community. Through the school outreach program - which is a sure way of leaving a lasting impact and a good legacy - Peter sustains the drive to get involved in the project rather than go for a paying job elsewhere.
"Make sure you visit us and see what we are talking about!" This is Peters parting shot.
[Context: Masai culture forbids women from working or even attending village meetings. ACT has challenged this tradition head-on by putting women to work in the reforestation efforts. Adam Tuller mentioned that prior efforts were doomed when only men were involved.]
Grevy's Zebra live in arid and semi-arid grass/shrub land. Current estimates put the total population at approximately 1,966 to 2,477. Most are located in Kenya with a portion located in Ethiopia.
The major threats are reduction of available water resources, habitat degradation and loss due to overgrazing, competition for resources, hunting and disease. In Kenya, hunting for skins in the late 1970's made a major contribution to the decline of Grevy's Zebras. Furthermore, the water supplies in Kenya have seriously declined, some rivers being reduced by 90%, and the overgrazing by local herders has drastically reduced the supply of food.
However, our program is designed to supply drinking water and fodder/grass crops for the wild animals, as well as the local inhabitants. Through this program there is no competition for resources since everyone shares equally. Initially we begin with the tree planting program which enables vulnerable rural Kenyans to create wealth from tree planting and establish a clean supply of water for the trees, livestock and humans. In the end, we tap into the new water supply to ensure that the wild animals get their equal share. This enhances the local villagers opportunity to generate incomes from wildlife safaris and ecotours.
"The animals, especially the Zebra, have been dying in large numers due to the ongoing drought." explained Peter Tingai, a Masai Elder and Camp Manager for Africa Conservation Trust.
Due to their unique bond with the animals, the Masai are the best partners for our program. They do not hunt animals like others, but they cherish their beauty and also understand that the animals can bring much needed incomes to the local community.
To date, we have been tracking Zebra and Wild Dogs from Magadi to Tsavo. We have been seeing a steady decline in Zebras and Wild Dogs, but there has been an increase in lions. We hope that through your support we can help create a sanctuary for these endangered Grevy's Zebra. The government is unable to stop poachers and locals are killing the Zebra because they claim they are grazing on their lands. Therefore, our efforts are essential in repopulating the Grevy's Zebra.
Currently, we have 2 Masai workers in the field tracking the animals but we need your support to purchase more equipment and provide more training so that we can have 20 community monitors working in the field next year. We have access to 48,000 acres of land through Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and together we aim to set up a Grevy's Zebra sanctuary. In the past we have worked with KWS to set up sanctuaries for rhinos and elephants, which are now flourishing once again, so now it is time to bring back the once flourishing Grevy's Zebra.
Thank you for your time and support. If you have any question about endangered species in Kenya please contact us.
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