Alternative livelihoods for Ex Poachers, Kenya

Dec 13, 2012

Poachers to Protectors! Tsavo Community Rangers

Recently our former poachers turned community rangers have had resurgence! Members of all four communities GVI works with along with other ex-poachers from the region have come together with KWS and Tsavo Pride to form a co-ordinated group to cover the entire southern sector corridor which runs between Tsavo West National Park and the Tanzanian Border, a hotspot for the trans-boundary Bush-meat and Ivory trade. It's a huge and extremely tough job, not to mention a dangerous one! But this group of forty extremely passionate and hard-working volunteers are eager to get into the bush to protect wildlife from inhumane deaths at the hands of their former colleagues.

Within six months of forming the group they have completed fourteen patrols, some lasting up to three days. They have successfully; recovered a total of twenty-eight snares from the bush, confiscated six Dikdik carcass whilst in pursuit of poachers, rescued an orphaned Suni, assisted KWS to successfully track down two poachers, mapped and reported the location of 2 fresh giraffe and 2 fresh elephant carcass.

KWS is very impressed with their efforts so far and a formal partnership is on the way! The rangers have recently received donations of camera’s, GPS units, binoculars, hand-held radios, torches, wire-cutters and a ten man tent from well wishers in Europe, Kenya and even from other grassroots organisations within Tsavo West. They have had a 3 day intensive field operations workshop from a Belgian Policewoman and GVI volunteers have given lessons on Operating GPS and digital cameras and undertaking data collection using “MIST Patrol” methods.

We wish to thank everyone who has assisted the rangers on their journey so far. They have come such a long way, but if they are to reach their aim of being the best community ranger organisation in East Africa, they have a very long way to go! They are currently seeking donations for uniforms and the establishment of three semi permanent camp sites from which to base their operations. The base camps will be manned 24 hours a day and will be placed near known poaching hotspots and routes enabling them to be ready to take action as needed and to establish a presence in the nearby communities to assist with Human-Wildlife conflict. Once they have bases they will also be able to start up income generating projects which will provide wages for these hard working and inspiring former poachers. 

Sep 20, 2012

Tsavo West Sustainable Development

The most recent donations from the GVI CT, provided the bulk of the funds to connect and install 3-phase power to the Mahandakini Centre for Animal Welfare and Rights. 

The wiring and digging of trenches to facilitate the power connection was completed on September 12th 2012.  The group members have presented all of the necessary documents and certificates to Kenyan Power and the installation charges have been paid in full as required by Kenya Power. The group is now in negotiation with Kenya power as to when they will be able to install the mains power and meter. It is anticipated that this will be completed by the end of October.

The donations has enabled the Mahandakini Centre for Animal Welfare and Rights to connect 3-phase power to their centre. This is the first and only 3-phase power connection in this remote village and will reduce the cost of running value addition machinery for this farming community. Previously the community was relying on diesel fuel to operate generators and heavy machinery. Not only is diesel an expensive fuel, its exhaust fumes emit nitric oxide, an air pollutant which is detrimental to human as well as environmental health.  

The connection provides opportunities for modern technology based business to open up within the centre, improving services available to the entire community and revitalising the local economy. The group will create  opportunities for their members as well as the wider community to run small business from the site. The rent produced from these small business will pay for on-going electrical costs and to go towards the groups future projects.

The group is working towards opening an education centre to train craft skills to youth in the community who did not make it to higher levels of education. These include: welding, carpentry and joinery, mechanics, Information Technology just to mention a few. These skills will empower the community to start village small enterprises in future thus adapting our government policy to eradicate poverty and job creation. The education centre will also aim to improve human-wildlife relationships and curb poaching by showing educational videos to the community and helping to provide solutions to situations of conflict. All of these future goals require this electrical connection

As outlined, this connection of 3-phase power to the Mahandakini Centre for Animal Welfare and Rights will impact not only the group members but the entire community of Mahandakini by creating opportunities, access affordable technology and by building the skills of local youths. It should have a positive impact on the environment and public health by reducing nitric oxide emissions and providing a space where conservation values can be shared with the community.

All of the members of the Mahandakini Network for Animal Welfare and Rights wish to thank GVI CT for facilitating this donation. This connection is a leap forward for the village of Mahandakini.

Jul 11, 2012

Lekole Lepolosi gets their First Product Order!

Over the last year we have been working with the incredibly talented artisans from Lekole Lepolosi to design and develop a unique range of modern Maasai beaded jewellery and leather products. In June they were thrilled to receive the very first order for their products to be stocked in one of the high-end boutiques in Mombasa. Thanks to your donations we were able to assist the group to complete this order by supplying the raw materials such as beads, wire, leather and cotton needed to make the first batch of products.

Over 80 women from the area came to assist the members to finish the order, which was completed to a high standard of quality. The group has paid those members who worked to complete the order and plan to reinvest part of their profits into buying more materials for the next order, and towards the construction of a workshop.

At the moment the members usually find a nice shady tree to work under, however they are hoping be able to build a workshop so that they can have a clean, organized environment to make their handicrafts in any weather. The group plans to construct the workshop themselves using locally available materials and only require assistance with the construction of work-benches, chairs and shelves.

The members of Lekole Lepolosi Anti Poaching group would like to express thanks to all of you who have supported the alternative livelihoods for ex-poachers program by donating through Global Giving. The program has brought new hope to this community of former poachers and charcoal burners by improving already existing skills, providing access to new markets and building the organizational capacity of the group. Ashe Oleng! – or thank you very much in Maasai !

Jul 5, 2012

Reconstructing Ex-Poacher's Lives

A few weeks ago, GVI successfully delivered comprehensive lessons to a group of ex-poachers in community of Kasaani on free range chicken farming as an alternative income generating project. The lessons covered topics including; disease recognition and treatment, general chicken care and raising chicks. The ex-poachers of Kasaani were very enthusiastic about the prospect of starting a free range chicken farming project as a means of generating sustainable alternative incomes, and also, a means of providing the community of Kasaani with improved access to affordable sources of protein rich foods. After the lessons were delivered, there was only one thing preventing the community of Kasaani from starting the free range chicken farming project – a well built chicken coop and fenced area to keep the chickens safe from predators and diseases. Things are not done by halves at GVI and that is why we returned to Kasaani just weeks later to help them build their first community run free range chicken coop.

A team of volunteers from GVI spent two weeks working side by side with a group of ex-poachers from Kasaani constructing a community run chicken coop. The chicken coop was designed by GVI staff and the community of Kasaani, constructed using local materials and local building techniques, and built in two weeks by an enthusiastic team of GVI volunteers and community members. The group of ex-poachers in Kasaani will also be provided with around twenty chickens to start the project.

The community will then be responsible for feeding the chickens, vaccinating against diseases and selling the eggs. The project is designed to be completely self sustaining; the community will use the profits from the sale of eggs to purchase more chickens and eventually, to build another coop which will replicate the first to keep broilers which they can breed to sell meat and also have chicks to replace the layers in the first coop.

Apr 17, 2012

Kidongs Eco Tourism Centre

Kidongs Eco-Tourism Centre helps a group of over 25 ex-poachers generate sustainable incomes via this environmentally friendly venture initiated by GVI and WSPA.  The Eco-Tourism Centre offers guided tours to Kidong Hill, demonstrations of traditional activities of the Kamba tribe by the village elders, delicious meals served in the Ndovu Restaurant and a huge amount of history about the transition of the people from Kidong, Kasaani and Mahandakini from poachers to protectors of wildlife.  Although the road to getting the Eco-Tourism Centre up and running has been a long one, the rewards are certainly worth it.

Kidong Eco-Tourism Centre is currently featured in the February edition of the East African Destination Magazine – a popular magazine advertising travel and accommodation options throughout East Africa. Publicity such as this is hugely appreciated by everyone involved in the establishment of the Kidong Eco-Tourism Centre and all of the ex-poachers engaged in the running of the project. Thank-you to everyone past and present who has supported the development of this project, and help to make it such a successful venture. 

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Project Leader

Sophie Birkett

GVI Charitable Trust Manager
St Albans, Herts United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Alternative livelihoods for Ex Poachers, Kenya