Northern Rangelands Trust – A Review of 2019

The Northern Rangelands Trust




Jambo ATCNews Readers!

Heavy rain continues to fall over much of north Kenya, grinding many community conservancy operations to a pause. A good time then, to stop and reflect on the year we are about to leave behind. As you’ll see in the ten stories highlighted in this final 2019 quarterly, community conservancies continue to provide a strong and respected platform for indigenous people to lead their own livelihoods development and conservation efforts — from tackling plastic in the ocean and returning hand-raised elephant calves to the wild, to organising peace marathons and helping young warriors access vocational training.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading through these highlights, in the knowledge that so many achievements of equal magnitude are not featured here – but are on our website. None of them would be possible without the support of our core programme partners in USAID, The Nature Conservancy, DANIDA, the EU, Conservation International, SIDA, AFD/FFEM, the Tusk Trust and many more listed here. It is also fantastic to see Increased support to conservancies from County Governments – both financially and through policy.

I wish you the best for 2020, and do hope you’ll continue to check in with our stories from the north.

Tom Lalampaa,

Kiunga Community Clears 10,000 Kilograms of Ocean Litter from Beaches

Back in May, the community of Kiunga Conservancy in Lamu spent three weeks cleaning up plastic from their beaches in partnership with Safari Doctors. Working in teams, they collected an incredible 10,000 kilograms of plastic and other non-biodegradable waste from areas that provide critical turtle and fisheries habitat.

“Marine litter, especially plastics, is a global issue. Communities in Kiunga who depend the ocean for their livelihoods see this as a threat, not only to the marine habitat but also to their health and wellbeing.”— Isa Gedi, NRT Coast Regional Director.

The Conservancy gave an award for the most waste collected, which went to the Solar Women’s Group who collected an impressive 2,000 kgs.

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“I want other young men to know that there is another way of earning a living apart from livestock — raiding and killing each other while herding is no way to live.— Kevin Lesita, farmer and community scout, Ruko Community Conservancy, Baringo.

Kevin features in our #10Morans series; ten stories from ten young warriors who are influencing positive change amongst their peers and in their communities. From tree champions and peace ambassadors to entrepreneurs, these young men are finding ways to give back to their communities.


Six of Reteti’s Rescued Elephants Return to the Wild

In May, the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Namunyak Community Conservancy released their first group of rescued elephants into Sera Conservancy — a milestone achievement for the community-run sanctuary whose ultimate aim is to release every elephant in their care. Sera Conservancy rangers have been able to confirm that the the three bulls – Warges, Sosian, and Lingwesi – have been spending time with a wild herd, which is the best outcome all involved had hoped for. Three more of Reteti’s foster elephants were released in November, including the orphanage matriarch Shaba. They are settling well into wild life under the close watch of community scouts and a dedicated monitoring team.

The move was a partnership between the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary, Namunyak Community Conservancy, Sera Community Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, Conservation International, San Diego Zoo Global, Save The Elephants, Sesia Ltd. and others. Namunyak Conservancy, Sera Conservancy, and other NRT-member conservancies receive core programme support from USAID, The Nature Conservancy, DANIDA and many others.

Celebrating Community-Led Conservation in Washington, DC

On April 3rd, NRT member conservancies were represented on a global stage at an event that celebrated indigenous-led conservation. Hosted in partnership with National Geographic, TNC, USAID, and the Wyss Foundation, the event also featured a preview of a series of short films made in north Kenya, and a panel discussion.

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Bringing the Classroom to the Field; New Mobile Vocational Training Programme Tailored to Pastoralists

Young warrior Lobore Lekanta cannot read or write, and never received a formal education. He has spent most of his life herding his family’s livestock across the rangelands of northern Kenya – following in the footsteps of his father, his grandfather, and the men before them. Navigating a landscape fraught with challenges – conflict with other herders over scarce resources, degraded grasslands, unpredictable weather – was getting harder each year, but Lekanta saw no other options for an illiterate, rural pastoralist.

It was that same young man that stood in front of Kenya’s Principal Secretary for the State Department of Vocational and Technical Training (TVET) on the 30th November 2019 to receive his graduation certificate in masonry, welding and motorcycle mechanics. Find out how the pilot vocational training programme Ujuzi Manyattani, supported by NRT and the Embassy of Sweden under the IMARA Program Consortium, helped Lekanta change his life, and how it will scale to help more young people from conservancies get into work.

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Sixth Rhino Calf Born at the Sera Rhino Sanctuary

It’s been a busy year at the Sera Rhino Sanctuary. The only community-owned and run black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, Sera is a shining example of how indigenous-led endangered species conservation can work for nature and people.

Six black rhino calves have been born in the Sanctuary since it opened in 2015, with the latest addition, a female, born in October this year. The sanctuary’s population now stands at 16. To boost biodiversity, 40 impalas from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy were translocated and released into the Sanctuary in November. They have joined another impala herd, also moved from Lewa in 2015.

Pate Reaps Rewards for Sustainable Fisheries Management

Inspired by an exchange visit to Madagascar, the community of Pate Island organised their first octopus fishing closure trial in April 2019, dedicating certain areas as no-take zones to allow fish populations to recover. Their harvest in the four days after reopening was modest (about 186 kgs) but it was enough to get consensus for a second closure – dubbed ‘shamba la pweza’ meaning ‘farm of the octopus’ – over four months between May and early September 2019. A total of 868 kgs of octopus were harvested after this closure, proving sustainable fisheries management can work well with good governance and community spirit.

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Samburu Approves Bill for Community Conservancies Funding

The County Assembly of Samburu have become the first in Kenya to approve a bill that will secure financial support for community conservancies going forward. The Samburu County Community Conservancies Fund Bill 2019 will have significant impact on the ability of community conservancies – who largely still rely on donor funding – to be independent and sustainable.

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Indigenous Communities Lead on Rangelands Restoration

It sounds counter-intuitive: cut down trees to help rehabilitate land. But that’s exactly what the communities in Namunyak, Narupa and Naibunga have been doing. More than 1,900 people across the three conservancies signed up to take part in rangeland rehabilitation programmes in 2019, which included clearing the damaging Acacia reficiens tree from over 4,400 hectares of land, and replanting grasses. Naibung’a Upper, Central, and Lower conservancies also worked on healing gullies across more than 10,000 acres of their land – using trenches to anchor the earth and cause a build up of soil when it rains. After the Narupa exercise, one volunteer, Peter Lemburkel, commented that “we elders are now seeing indigenous grass species which we haven’t seen since we were children.”

Setting Aside Differences, Running for Peace

300 young men from 32 community conservancies came together for three days in late May to broker peace through dialogue and sport.

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