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We’re back

We’re back on line after a very long time without posting blogs – sorry for that everyone! NRT has faced many challenges and successes over the past 6 months since our last posting and we hope over the next few weeks to update you on some of these…

As many of you may be aware there has been a government security operation ongoing in Samburu district, this has been a difficult time for NRT and the conservancies but things are calming down and conservancies operations are gradually getting back to normal. This is important as over the past 6 months there has been an increased poaching threat to elephants in northern Kenya much of which is being picked up by the conservancy scouts in remote areas of the Mathew’s ranges, to the east of Sera and Melako conservancies and in areas neighbouring Il Ngwesi and Lekurruki conservancies. The network of conservancy scouts is crucial for monitoring elephant mortality in this region and their ability to effectively patrol throughout their conservancies is vital for elephant security. An example was a group of 6 elephants poached to the east of Melako conservancy in November last year whose carcasses were found by conservancy scouts – this has led to a series of anti-poaching operations conducted by KWS in this area since these were found.

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A few weeks ago Melako scouts, together with KWS and Lewa security personnel managed to recover 43kg of ivory and arrested 3 people involved. NRT and the conservancies are continuing to monitor elephant mortality and ivory movements in the area……..will keep you all posted of any new developments.

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Naibunga Conservancy being rejuvenated

Patrick Siparo is one of NRT’s Regional Coordinators who provides on-ground support to a cluster of conservancies in what we call the Ngare Ndare Region. These include Il Ngwesi, Lekurruki, Ngare Ndare, Naibunga and the newest NRT Conservancy Mpus Kutuk (or Kipsing). His role is to provide support to the conservancies in management, community liaison, conflict resolution on a regular basis – consistent engagement with communities and the conservancies is key to sustaining support for conservation. Below is an update from him on Naibunga conservancy which is located in Laikipia District; NRT is working with a number of different organisations in Naibunga including Laikipia Wildlife Forum and African Wildlife Foundation……..

Naibunga is a Maasai word that means , togetherness, coined to refer to the nine group ranches that have come together to conserve the wildlife in Naibunga Conservancy Trust land, totaling above two hundred thousand acres. Naibunga has elephants sometimes seen in hundreds , common Zebra , gravy zebra , Thompson’s & Grants gazelles , Lesser and greater Kudus, Impalas, Gerenuk, cheetahs ,lions wild dogs just to mention a few. Naibungas dream is to fully protect their wildlife from poaching, protect their livestock from cattle rustling and hope that in the process the community can earn tourism income.

Naibunga is founder member of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) being one of the fifteen conservancies that formed the service providing & facilitating trust created to uplift livelihoods through wildlife conservation in northern

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. In November 07 the trustees and some community members went on a peer exchange visit to conservancies under NRT, they were pleasantly surprised, their findings ignited renewed energy and new knowledge on how to move faster towards driving Naibunga towards its conservation goals

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Naibunga scouts with snares recovered in the field

At a brainstorming meeting after the tour it was not surprising when the nine group ranches gave as their first priority, security. The trusties through the meeting requested NRT to fundraise for scout operating expenses, rations uniforms and training. By April 08 the NRT had secured 30,379$. In the same month eighteen scouts, three radio operators and a security coordinator were recruited by the community, then trained at Lewa on basic game scout security operation and monitoring. The team is now in the field and are doing what they were trained to do, conducting patrols and retrieving snares. The scouts are walking on average thirty Kilometers per day to ensure their boot prints are seen in every corner of the conservancies. Their presence has immensely boosted wildlife, livestock and people security. Giraffes that were rarely seen, now frequent the group ranch areas, an encouraging sign to the community that their decision to place security as first priority is bearing fruit. This however is only the first step the security component must be accompanied by building the capacity of the board members, recruiting a manager and having an effective radio network, purchasing a vehicle for security. The board’s single minded resolve that their community is best served through conservation has gained momentum and the future for wildlife conservation in the nine group ranches of Naibunga is definitely brighter.

Patrick Siparo – NRT Regional Coordinator, Ngare Ndare

Donations… and conservancies address insecurity in the north

I am reposting this as I have just figured out how to make the photos larger!

Thanks so much for our first donations from Kathleen l, Nicole K and Mary H – it is very much appreciated, thank you all.

Been an interesting few weeks in NRT as usual – mainly revolving around security issues in the north. With the lack of government capacity to deal with insecurity thoughout most of the areas we are working in, it is left to the conservancy security scouts to follow up on incidents of road bandity and livestock theft – let alone any poaching that may occur. Over the last two weeks, conservancy scouts from Namunyak, Sera, Kalama and West Gate conservancies were involved in following up several trucks that were held up on the main ‘highway’ between Kenya and Ethiopia. This meant days out in the bush tracking the bandits with no shelter and food supplies running low. A teenage boy who was returning home from school aboard one of these trucks disappeared into the bush when the bandits attacked – disorientated and no doubt very scared he walked further and further away from the road into the wilderness. The scouts and community members who joined in the search finally found him after 6 days – it had been difficult to track him because of all the rain in the area, but thankfully the rain meant there was also plenty of water around for him to drink and he was found near a water hole (with elephants all around!). The dedication of these conservancy scouts continues to amaze me, if it weren’t for them, this boy would certainly have died.

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Trucks transporting livestock and other goods are the only means of public transport in the north – passengers ride on top of truck; Sera Wildlife Conservancy scouts

In another incident last week Kalama scouts successfully returned over 50 cattle that had been stolen – although it involved a shoot out with the bandits, luckily no one was killed or injured.

Following the recent spate of security incidents, the Samburu and Rendille communities living in this area held several meetings over the last few days together with the conservancies NRT, Lewa and government officials. As part of the way to address the insecurity the communities have come up with a home-grown solution … elders are undertaking a ‘road-cursing ceremony’ over the next few days. I will bring you more on this once I have details……..

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Armed conservancy scout & dommunity members at a security meeting earlier this year