STORIES FROM THE RANGELANDS
JUNE 2020 ISSUE
Dear ATCNews Readers,
All is well at NRT HQ. We continue to adapt our way of working at the office to keep staff safe, and implement COVID-19 safety measures in line with Government guidelines across all our fieldwork.
As you’ll see from the content of this quarterly newsletter, the conservancies have been as busy as ever, continuing to deliver the essential and priority services that conservancy members rely on, despite the uncertainties of these current times. We were thrilled to hear that the Government of Kenya, in recognition of this, has committed a Covid-19 stimulus package for conservancies across the country.
I’m honoured to have been appointed to the Conservancies Fund Framework and Implementation Committee, whose mandate will be developing and implementing the structure that will guide the roll-out of this government stimulus package. I will be joined on the Committee by my friend and colleague, the CEO of the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association Dickson Kaelo, and others, and together we will bring our grassroots and community experience to the committee, and champion for their firsthand priorities.
This unprecedented commitment by the Kenyan Government sends a strong message on the nationally-important role of community conservancies. It portrays a strong recognition of the partnership between the national government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), community conservancies, and all the community members working tirelessly to conserve and protect wildlife and nature in Kenya. I very much look forward to seeing its impact.
Thank you for your continued interest in, and support of, NRT, stay safe.
Chief Executive Officer, Northern Rangelands Trust
Grevy’s Zebra Translocation
25 endangered Grevy’s zebra were successfully translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to Sera Wildlife Community Conservancy in May; the latest in a series of moves aimed at boosting biodiversity in East Africa’s first and only community-run black rhino sanctuary. The move was a partnership between Sera Community Conservancy, the Northern Rangelands Trust, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, USAID, The Nature Conservancy, DANIDA and many more. The exercise marks the first translocation of Grevy’s zebra to a community protected area and highlights the critical lead role that communities are taking in endangered species conservation in northern Kenya. //Read the full story on our website.
More Hirola Births in Ishaqbini
15 hirola calves have been born at the Ishaqbini Hirola Sanctuary this year (four this quarter), bringing the total Sanctuary hirola population estimate to 131. There have been no deaths so far this year at the sanctuary, which has seen 160% increase in the numbers of the critically endangered hirola numbers since its establishment in 2012.
A female elephant fitted with a GPS tracking collar has made a remarkable journey from Samburu to Marsabit – suggesting that elephants are starting to feel safe again. Koya, made the 48-mile trek with six of her family, traversing an area once troubled by conflict and ivory poaching. This is the first time a female elephant has ever been recorded making this trip. With community conservancies working to providing secure spaces for wildlife and people, elephants are starting to expand their range once again. //Read Koya’s full story.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary successfully released four hand-reared elephants into Sera Conservancy in May; the third elephant release from the community-run sanctuary since establishment. “This brings to 10 the number of calves released from Reteti. As the larger Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy… we feel really proud of what the sanctuary has achieved in the rescue and release of orphaned elephant calves,” said Reteti Manager Moses Lenaipa. //Read the full story here.
Above: Long’uro was rescued and taken to Reteti after being found with a third of his trunk missing. Below: It took many hands and hours to rescue this 15 y/o bull from deep mud in Nannapa Conservancy.
- Stuck in the Mud – Bull Elephant Rescued in Nannapa Community Conservancy. NRT staff, Nannapa Community Conservancy rangers, Loisaba Conservancy rangers, and the Kenya Wildlife Service worked together to rescue an elephant stuck in the mud in May. Herders spotted the 15-year-old bull in the mud and got the joint rescue mission going. It took many hands and many hours, but elephant walked away from his ordeal unharmed. See it all on Instagram.
- Pate Scouts Rescue Green Sea Turtle. Pate Marine Community Conservancy scouts rescued a green sea turtle from a fishermen’s net in April, and returned it back to the sea. Read the full story here, and watch the video of the turtle’s release.
- Two Elephant Calf Rescues at Reteti. Reteti made six rescues this quarter, two were particularly memorable for the team. One was a 6-8-week-old elephant calf who was rescued from drowning in the Ewaso Nyiro River by hospitality staff in Samburu National Reserve. The tiny calf had injuries from what is thought to be a lion attack and has been named Lomunyak – “Lucky” in Maa – for obvious reasons! He is now recovering well at Reteti. The second was a critically injured calf rescued from Loisaba Conservancy – found after having lost a third of his trunk to a hyena the previous night. Vets from Kenya Wildlife Service supported the Reteti team in the rescue, where euthanasia was discussed as a likely option. However, ‘Long’uro’ as he’s been named, continues to make a remarkable recovery, and as his wounds heal he has developed a playful nature. //Read his story.
Peace & Security
New Security Teams
Two new mobile security teams, 9-6 and 9-7, have been operationalised in NRT North Rift and NRT Coast respectively, amidst increasing insecurity and poaching incidents. Each of the teams comprises 10 NRT scouts drawn from the conservancies and 4 Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) personnel. Scouts in the 9-6 team in North Rift will primarily focus on the protection of over 400 elephants in Nasolot- South Turkana-Masol ecosystem. The 9-7 team will support the existing rapid response team at the coast – the 9-3 team – in tackling rising bushmeat poaching.
Communities Crowd-Fund for Scout Outposts
The board members, scouts and community members of Kirimon Community Conservancy came together to build a temporary scout base in April. Kirimon is an important wildlife corridor and there was increasing concern that if spread out, the scouts would be unable to respond effectively to the predicted rise in insecurity and wildlife crime. Given the current economic climate, conservancies are looking to save costs wherever possible, so finding budget for a scout camp was difficult. That is why Kirimon scouts and board members made their own financial donations to the project, and contributed to the workforce as well. This inspired two other conservancies to do the same, including Ngare Ndare and Naibunga Upper.
Women Peace Ambassadors Step Up
The NRT Peace Department has completed the training of 25 Women Peace Ambassadors — 19 of whom were recently recruited in a quest to increase the number of women in conflict prevention and resolution. There are now around 90 Peace Ambassadors across the NRT landscape, most from conflict hotspot areas. They have been instrumental in addressing intertribal conflicts and averting raids through early warning systems, gathering intelligence, intercepting retaliatory attacks, supporting the recovery of stolen livestock, and leading reconciliations in the community.
News from NRT Trading
BeadWORKS Certified Fair Trade
NRT-Trading’s BeadWORKS programme, which supports over 1,000 women across nine NRT member conservancies, has been granted a provisional membership to the World Fair Trade Organisation. Upon successful completion of the subsequent monitoring period, BeadWORKS will be accorded full membership to the global network, which provides global credibility in addition to tools to increase market access. This is the culmination of months of hard work from the BeadWORKS team, who look forward to WFTO status benefitting the BeadWORKS artisans through increased income. Share this on Facebook.
Ltungai Pilots Fodder Banking
Pastoralists in Ltungai Community Conservancy are taking part in NRT-Trading’s pilot fodder banks programme – which aims to increase resilience during dry seasons by supporting pastoralists to grow and store extra fodder in the rainy season. The programme commenced with training for farmers on how to grow nutritious grass, the distribution and planting of seeds ahead of the November-December rains, and an exposure trip to similar programmes in Narok County. In late May, a team from NRT-Trading visited Ltungai to hand over motorized grass cutting equipment, herbicides, and baling equipment to the farmers ahead of the processing stage. “One striking feature for Ltungai is the seriousness from the youth and women,” says Patrick Ekodere, NRT Livestock Director. Plans are underway to build six fodder stores in the conservancy so that farmers can store their excess bales to sell or use later.
Improving Cattle Genetics in Il Ngwesi
NRT-Trading, through its Livestock-To-Market (LTM) programme, has selected five quality bulls from its herd to be used to improve the genetic quality of the local zebu cattle in Il Ngwesi. This comes after LTM identified gaps in the local cattle genetics.
LTM aims to improve the income pastoralists receive from their cattle, and reinforce the link between healthy rangelands and healthy livestock, while contributing to wildlife conservation in the region with a percentage of each sale going to the host community conservancy.
Ishaqbini: Best Loan Repaying Conservancy
Ishaqbini Community Conservancy has emerged the best loan repaying conservancy in the last one year with over 98% loan repayment rate. This program has now been scaled up to include 108 new women members.
The new and graduating members will now undergo an intensive business and financial literacy training after. A total of 7.75 million will be disbursed to the members following the training to aid them start and/or expand their businesses.
Diversifying into Gums & Resins
NRT-Trading has identified gums and resins as another north Kenya value chain that can improve the livelihoods of communities — if the collectors and aggregators of gums and resins are supported to increase supply quantity and quality.
Gum harvesting has been in existence in the region for many years, but it has not been fully exploited. To this end, 60 gum and resins collectors and aggregators from Sera and Meibae community conservancies (4 men and 56 women) were trained in areas of production, quality management, and market access, such as tapping, post-harvest handling, storage, transportation, packaging, and marketing.
From Charcoal Burners to Forest Champions.
Community members in Leparua Community Conservancy are taking a stand on charcoal burning to protect their forested areas. Through their conservancy, many community members are now reporting incidents of charcoal burning to relevant actors. Two individuals recently caught making charcoal illegally have now turned over a new leaf, championing forest protection by raising awareness amongst their peers. One of them, a woman who has been a charcoal burner for the past 10 years, is now employed as a cook in the conservancy. The other, a man who has burnt charcoal for the last 12 years, now runs an alternative business after community helped him raise the capital he needed to switch his trade. In late June, Rangers from Naibunga Central Community Conservancy have destroyed more than ten charcoal kilns in a quest to eradicate the illegal production of charcoal. The conservancy then conducted sensitization meetings to engage with community members on alternative income-generating activities.
Conservancy Livelihood Fund Impact.
- Kirimon Community Conservancy will support 57 children through school with a Ksh. 3-million education bursary.
- Kaptuya Community Conservancy has distributed 208 beehives to 40 conservancy members, to support diversified and sustainable economies for families.
- 35 youth from the Naibunga Community Conservancies were granted boda bodas (motorbikes) for starting or boosting existing business – this is part of a general move to empowering youth in business across the NRT landscape.
- Nalowuoun Conservancy (Namunyak) will support 1,415 students through school, when schools reopen.
Rangelands Rehabilitation Brings Economic Relief
- The Acacia reficiens management program that commenced at the start of April in Kalama, Nannapa and Narupa community conservancies has been successfully completed, rehabilitating approximately 3,700 hectares.
- More than 1,000 casual labourers were engaged in the 14-day activity, 40% of whom were women and more than 50% youth. 62% of the budget (US$ 132,180) went to direct payments to the casuals, who earned an average of US$ 87.71 each, providing the much-needed household income.
- The project adhered to strict safety and hygiene measures, including social distancing, the provision of hand sanitizers and face masks, and adequate access to water. Payment was done through mobile phone transfer to avoid cash handling.
- EU Consortium Programme Launched in West Pokot. The main objective of the EU Ustahimilivu Programme is to support increased drought and climate change resilience in communities in the ASAL areas of Kenya. Specifically, to enhance food and nutrition security of vulnerable households, and to generate sustainable livelihoods and protect productive assets in West Pokot. It is a partnership between NRT, CEFA (agriculture and water provision), AMREF (health, hygiene and nutrition) E4IMPACT (enterprise and value chain development) and SOMINIREC (peace building and conflict management).
- Radio School in Isiolo. Kenyan schools have been closed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and while schools in urban areas are transitioning to online learning, this isn’t an option for many students in rural north Kenya, who don’t have access to the necessary internet or hardware. That is why teachers from different private and public schools in Isiolo have come together under a radio education project supported by NRT, Isiolo County Government, Isiolo County Parents and Teachers Association and Angaaf Radio. It aims to deliver radio lessons to rural students stuck at home across the county. Read more here.
- Conservancies Secure County Funding. Ltungai Conservancy has secured KSh. 5 million from the county government of Samburu towards supporting income generating activities within the Conservancy, in a quest to help support livelihoods during tough economic times. Kaptuya Community Conservancy has secured Ksh. 4.5 million from the County Government of Baringo to construct a water borehole and connect water to Kaptuya headquarters.
- Governor’s Aerial Elephant Patrol. West Pokot County Governor Hon. Prof. John Lonyang’apuo took to the skies to conduct elephant surveillance with NRT’s pilot Ian Lemaiyan. The aerial view showed the impact of the joint conservation efforts by Masol and Pellow community conservancies, in partnership with national and county security agencies, which has seen improved security for communities and wildlife, including for elephants along the Nasalot-Kerio ecosystem. “Currently, we have more than 200 elephants in West Pokot and this is largely attributed to peace along the Turkwel belt. The NRT 9.6 patrol team is doing an amazing job in protecting our wildlife,” said the Governor on social media.
- Clean up in Pate: Women groups in Kiunga Community Conservancy have collected about nine tonnes of plastic waste from the surrounding beaches in a cleanup campaign.
- CS Tourism and Wildlife Visit: The Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Hon. Najib Balala officially opened the NRT/ Kenya Wildlife Service Rapid Response Unit (KWS RRU) Social Hall on Friday 26th June, built with support from the EU. Read more.
- BeadWORKS Leather Training: 170 women in Leparua, Lekurruki and Kalama community conservancies have taken part in the ongoing leather training conducted by NRT Trading’s BeadWORKS program. Diversification into leather products such as belts, dog collars and bags was one of the major reasons behind the 94% increase in income to BeadWORKS businesswomen in 2019.
- New Strategies and Reports Launched:
- NRT’s Peace Programme Strategy for the next five years (2018-2022) has been published. It draws lessons learnt since NRT established a dedicated Peace Programme five years ago and from other best practices from similar programmes in the country and elsewhere. It takes into account the successes amidst the significant challenges and continued conflict in the NRT landscape. Read it here.
- The new NRT water strategy outlines a new approach to NRT’s water development, that is shifting from project-type infrastructure to a more integrated approach. This involves water resource planning, management, and infrastructure development, with conservancies as the entry point for all aspects of the programme. Download here.
- Status of Wildlife Report 2020: The NRT Status of Wildlife Report 2020 is out. Highlights of the report, which collates more than 15 years of data, include evidence of increasing populations of elephant, reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, and Beisa oryx across the NRT-centre landscape largely due to the conservation work of NRT member community conservancies. Download now.
With thanks, as always, to our donors, working partners, and supportive County Governments.