In November 2014 GVI returned for the last time to Tsavo. Our goal was to use the funds our amazing donors raised to support the inspiring ex poachers group Ngoyaki.
Efforts of CBO’s such as Ngoyaki are vital, particularly in Tsavo where the illegal bush-meat trade and ivory targeted poaching is the highest threat to tropical wildlife. The bush-meat trade is now escalating despite mitigation efforts by Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS). Unfortunately KWS is under-resourced and needs help to effectively put a halt to poaching in Tsavo, this puts groups such as Ngoyaki in a very important position to implement change within local poaching communities and to increase the much needed manpower.
Ngoyaki owns a piece of land near Lake Challa and bordering Tsavo West National Park which contain several fresh water springs that serves as a valuable water sources for near-by communities, a vital bio-diversity pocket, as well a water point source for local cattle herders. It is the damaging effects of heavy cattle herder use that instigated the cattle-trough initiative. Through financial support via the Charitable Trust (CT) and added man-power, GVI have installed a cattle trough system to support the group’s aim to preserve a communally used water source and protect a crucial bio-diversity pocket on their land.
Powered by 9 GVI volunteers, 4 Ngoyaki group members, the expertise of a mason, and funds donated by our supportive donors through CT, we managed to complete the water catchment system this November.
Through our combined efforts over the past 2 years, and the gracious CT donations, this group has a slice of protected land. GVI, Ngoyaki and Tsavo Pride would like to extend a massive thank you to all of you who have donated as this would not have been feasible without your generosity.
In August 2014 GVI made its way back to the beautiful red sands of Tsavo. This time we were asked by our partners Tsavo pride, to work in a new village Ndiliau.
Just like the surrounding villages in Tsavo, Ndiliau used to be a community of poachers and charcoal burners, now they are trying to make a new life for themselves. Although it may sound simple to stop illegally participating in the bush meat trade for a safer alternative livelihood, but life in the bush can be difficult, lack of rain leads to water shortages and with few good schools in the area quality of education is often low, meaning sometimes an alternative livelihood seems impossible.
That’s why Tsavo communities need our support, we give them ideas for alternative income and show them new skills they can utilize for a happier and healthy lifestyle. This is also where your donations come in, with your support we can give the communities that first push to change the way they live their lives for the better.
This August we were back with some of our favorite people, the Tsavo pride rangers. The rangers are an amazing group coming from communities all over Tsavo these ex-poachers now risk their lives protecting their land from poaching. It’s a dangerous and difficult job, hiking for miles through the bush, tracking, often, armed poachers. That’s why it’s wonderful to be able to give something back to this group.
The community of Ndiliua have recognized the ranger’s good work and have given them a plot of land within the community to call their own.
Two years ago Tsavo pride rangers were given a donation of all sorts of vital equipment from this GVI trained the rangers on GPS, binocular and camera use, the tools they need carry out their voluntary work. The land is a big breakthrough for the rangers to be able to establish themselves somewhere and finally a safe place for their equipment. For one week GVI came to assist the rangers in building an earth bag store room. This way of building is just as it sounds, bags filled with earth make very good bricks.
Earth bag construction is an excellent way of building, not only is it environmental friendly its easy and affordable. The GVI volunteers demonstrated to the rangers how to build using these simple materials, after a week the rangers had the skills to make these structures themselves. Together with GVI the rangers built a store room, this is now pride of place for all the equipment the rangers use.
The store room is just the beginning for the rangers, they hope to expand their land making an office for themselves and a place where they can become an established group.
On behalf of the rangers we would like to thank our supporters who continue to donate to this worthy cause.
This month Tsavo has had some extremely sad news. Thought to have been the largest and most loved elephant in Kenya, Satao was killed.
Satao had a special type of genetic makeup that produced unusually large tusks - 6.5 feet long. Unfortunately this made Satao worth a lot of money to the ivory trade. Despite big conservation efforts even air patrols, Satao was shot with a poisoned arrow and his tusks were removed. Elephant numbers continue to fall only 500,000 elephants roam the continent down from over 5 million in the 1940s. Its estimated 40,000 elephants get poached every year for their tusks.
But there is hope; the number is dropping. The work that GVI, in partnership with Tsavo pride, is doing is targeting the grassroots of the issue- the poachers. Poaching is a scary and risky business sometimes even causing fatalities and tearing families apart and most poachers’ welcome alternative lifestyles.
The efforts that come from our volunteer and partners to create a new life for these poachers turned protectors is vital not just for the people but for the conservation of the wildlife that surrounds them.
Tsavo national park is still bursting with wildlife and thanks to your donations we can help keep it that way.
Thank you again,
All the best
In February 2014 GVI returned to work with Ngoyaki to complete the work from 2013 and begin looking at alternative livelihood projects for the community members. Livestock herding places large pressures on the land in this area with soil erosion and pollution of the creek having adverse effects on the habitat. We worked to complete the construction of a cattle trough whereby herdsman could take their livestock to water them thus protecting the creek and the valuable water source downstream.
However GVI undertook another project while working in Kasokoni. There is great potential for eco-tourism in the area with great biodiversity particularly among bird species. The CBO Ngoyaki also has long term aims of establishing an eco-tourism site with guided walks encompassing views of Kilimanjaro and a visit to the adjacent Crater Lake. Already possessing a rich Taveta culture and extensive knowledge on local plant and animal species Ngoyaki could become a great eco-tourism spot. Areas that we mapped during our time with Ngoyaki are the Northern range of their territory, a short walk from our campsite to the nearest road and a possible tourism trail visiting Lake Chala through an abandoned hotel.
While being guided by the group we were also taking note of all animal species that were sighted and identified along the way to add to our ongoing species list for the area, another way of encouraging tourism. Mapping the area was a great help to Ngoyaki because it utilises resources GVI has access to that the group would not be able to fund themselves. GVI has used Google Earth to create a KML file showing satellite images of the territory that Ngoyaki owns and the routes they guided us on. This will be a valuable resource for eco-tourism as it gives them a tangible document they can present to possible visitors and is something they can include in any tourist brochures they produce.
Looking to the future Ngoyaki are aiming to build a catchment area and pump to fill the completed cattle trough and expand their knowledge of ecotourism and develop a tourism centre. GVI, in partnership with Tsavo Pride and Ngoyaki are optimistic about the continuing partnership and goals with the community and land management focusing on anti poaching, alternative livelihood and wildlife conservation collaboratively to protect the habitat around Kasakoni.
Many thanks for your continuing support
GVI Kenya and Tsavo Pride are working together with former wildlife poachers in the Taveta District of Kenya to promote environmental awareness, engage in anti-poaching activities, reduce the bush meat trade, create alternative livelihoods and encourage community ownership of wildlife, waterways and the natural environment in and around Tsavo West National Park.
In 2013 GVI Kenya set up camp in Kasokoni, about 20 minutes from Taveta town at the foot of the Challa crater Lake on the border of the Tsavo west National park to support the Ngoyaki community based conservation organisation. Ngoyaki – a conjugation translating as ‘voices of our forefathers’ rose from two older but largely inactive groups and now incorporates 20 members. Based on merit the group has been allocated the management of a large portion of land around Kasokoni and Challa Lake. The area harbours several vital natural springs, a creek, and a pocket of riverine forest forming a sort of oasis in an otherwise very dry landscape.
Any first visit will make the main conservation issues painfully clear. The creek is a vital biodiversity pocket, provides clean water to surrounding communities and attracts a range smaller as well as bigger wildlife. However, the heavy use from cattle has eroded the banks significantly, cow dung is making the creek-water unsafe to use and visibly interfering with the ecosystem balance.
Fencing-off the area will restore biodiversity rapidly and is the obvious solution but not a very favourable one with stakeholders such as the Maasai herders that have use the area for hundreds of years. To move forward and avoid conflict at the same time the group has decided to first provide a cattle trough, an alternative water drinking point for the cattle. Fencing – depending on funding – might come later.
Building a cattle trough is though. In this area houses are built of clay, sticks and leaves, there is no power, and certainly no running water, the average income is about 2 US$, temperatures rise above 30°C every day, and the closest DIY store is two hours away. GVI funded the undertaking and coordinated the effort motivation and man-power of 14 GVI volunteers, 9 group members, 5 GVI staff experts, 2 staff from our local partner Tsavo Pride and a local contractor to build the trough in 20 days.
For Ngoyaki this is an iconic first step. Although self proficiency for the group is thinkable, the group will rely on support and funding for years to come. GVI and Tsavo Pride are working alongside to reduce illegal poaching activities and to assist communities living side-by-side with wildlife to improve living standards, reduce conflict with wildlife, and prosper. We believe that utilisation of the knowledge former poachers have of the local environment as well as behaviours, attitudes and challenges within communities bordering the national park can help us to transform local attitudes towards the consumption of unsustainable resources such as bush meat and charcoal and to solve local problems using local, sustainable resources.
Many thanks for your support for this project.
All the best,
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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