STORIES FROM THE RANGELANDS
END OF YEAR ISSUE
Dear ATCNews Readers,
I hope this finds you safe and well. I am not going to give COVID a lot of real estate in this end-of-year letter to you — instead I share with you a few highlights of a year in the northern rangelands.
Take, for example, the rescue of two stranded giraffe, captured above by photographer Ami Vitale, led by Ruko Community Conservancy in partnership with others. It was a daring mission that reached audiences all over the world. Or, the installation of 130 biogas units in as many households, as member conservancies look to support their communities in reducing deforestation, improving household health, and saving money.
My warmest appreciation for your support and interest in NRT this year, and looking forward to better times ahead!
Chief Executive Officer, Northern Rangelands Trust
Highlights from 2020
Animals were moved, rescued, and collared as part of community-led at-risk species conservation efforts
25 endangered Grevy’s zebra were successfully translocated from Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to Sera Community Conservancy in May; as part of a series of moves aimed at boosting biodiversity in East Africa’s first and only community-run black rhino sanctuary. The exercise marked 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. Watch the video.
Marine rangers from Pate Marine Community Conservancy captured their rescue of a green sea turtle from a fishing net – watch it here.
Five critically endangered hirola were fitted with GPS collars in November, in preparations for a soft release in 2021. The collars will enable Ishaqbini Conservancy to continue monitoring the antelope’s movements and use this information to shape wider conservation efforts. Read more.
Nannapa Community Conservancy led the heroic rescue of a bull elephant who was discovered by local pastoralists trapped in thick mud. Read more.
Reteti Elephant Sanctuary successfully released four more hand-reared elephants this year — Loisaba, Baawa, Lchurai and Nadasoit joined six other previously released Reteti orphans in their new home at Sera Community Wildlife Conservancy. They are doing well with minimal human interaction. Read the full story.
The world’s only known white reticulated giraffe, who lives in Ishaqbini Community Conservancy, has been fitted with a GPS tracking device to enable community rangers to more effectively monitor and protect him. Watch how we did it. The giraffe has leucism, a rare genetic condition seen in only two other reticulated giraffe in Kenya – both of whom were killed by poachers earlier in 2020.
Ruko Community Conservancy and partners worked together to rescue two of the eight stranded Rothschild’s giraffes – marooned on an island after water levels on Lake Baringo experienced an unprecedented rise. The successful rescue mission – which involved floating the giraffes to safety on a barge – attracted international press – including this photo essay by CNN. The remaining six giraffe will be moved in 2021.
Communities continued to rehabilitate degraded rangelands and reduce deforestation
While data for the whole year is still being compiled, we know that in the first six months of 2020, community members in three conservancies had cleared 3,848 hectares of the prolific and damaging Acacia reficiens tree, in order to rehabilitate degraded rangelands for people and wildlife. More than 1,000 casual labourers were engaged in the 14-day activity, 40% of whom were women and more than 50% of whom were youth. 490 hectares were reseeded with perennial grasses. Read it all here.
130 biogas units were installed in as many households this year, as conservancies look to support their members to reduce pressure on shrinking forest habitats from charcoal and firewood harvesting. The biogas digesters use the gas produced from the breakdown of livestock dung to fuel household stoves. Each household will be required to pay USD 11.25 (little more than a bag of charcoal) monthly to create a revolving fund that will enable the purchase of more biogas units for other conservancy members. Read about the trial here.
We sought new ways to build grassroots capability for strong, autonomous community conservancies
It is clear that NRT’s bespoke Leadership and Management Programme will continue to form a pivotal component of the governance pillar for NRT and member conservancies. In order to sustain this, and scale impact, NRT began rolling out a ‘training of trainers’ programme for LAMP in August this year. 14 NRT staff and conservancy managers completed training to deliver LAMP to conservancy leaders and indigenous communities across the 39 NRT-member conservancies. Read more here.
NRT, the Samburu County Government, and the nine community conservancies in the county signed a five-year tripartite Memorandum of Understanding in 2020, to provide a formal framework for structured, effective and efficient collaboration. Read more here.
As conservancies faced severe coronavirus-related funding cuts, the National Government pledged support to all conservancy rangers through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
NRT Trading continued to accelerate the development of sustainable and resilient commerce across the member conservancies
NRT Trading’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan was drafted this year, and is expected to go to print in the first quarter of 2021.
Overall, over KSh 89 million* was paid out over 15 LTM markets in the year – a lifeline during a time of pandemic-driven livestock market closures.
BeadWORKS artisans earned approximately KSh 8 million in income*
Nine women, 14 men and 11 youth from Ltungai Community Conservancy were the first to take part in a pilot fodder banking programme, harvesting 5,827 bales in 2020
The average household income to pastoralists selling to LTM was the highest on record*
3,228 people are now part of the Northern Rangelands Savings and Credit Cooperative, which made savings of Ksh 6 million in 2020*
*all Trading data from January to November 2020. These numbers may change as data is finalised for the 2020 annual report.
Our partners helped tell our story
Patience Pays Off
The Nature Conservancy produced this short film about octopus fisherwomen at the coast, benefitting from the science of recovery times. Watch it here.
‘This Rhino is my Son’
USAID published an article on their Medium platform about Reteti keeper Mary Lengees, and her special relationship with one young rhino. Read it here.
With thanks, as always, to all our donors, working partners, and supportive County Governments: