With the recent severe lion conflict occurring within the Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy, Ewaso Lions initiated an exposure tour for residents to visit Westgate Community Conservancy to learn about the conservation activities taking place there, which might be adapted and applied in Nakuprat-Gotu.
Nakuprat-Gotu is a primarily Turkana community located to the east of Samburu Naitonal Reserve in northern Kenya. Ewaso Lions organized the exposure tour in February in conjunction with the Kenya Wildlife Service, Nakuprat Conservancy management, Samburu National Reserve and Westgate Community Conservancy.
Following discussions within Nakuprat in late January, it was apparent that general conservation awareness among the community was low, and there were concerns over carnivore predation of livestock. Importantly, community members wanted to get involved and become informed. We decided to bring together the residents of this conservancy and take them to Samburu National Reserve and Westgate Conservancy for an exposure tour.
Gabriel Lepariyo, Warden of Samburu National Reserve, welcomed the group and addressed key issues such as the importance of wildlife within the region and the benefits of having tourists visit Samburu and Buffalo Springs. Charles Lekirimpoto followed up with a discussion on how important working with the communities was in conservation.
Next, the group stopped into Save the Elephants research centre, where David Daballen, head researcher, addressed the group about poaching and the current problems facing elephants.
The Chairlady of Nakuprat-Gotu, Josephine Ekiru, was instrumental in bringing together the key community members and encouraging them to learn from this experience and to take the message back to their homes and spread the knowledge. She challenged the group to learn to live with wildlife and to frequently report any problems.
The group spent the afternoon visiting Westgate Community Conservancy and was welcomed by the Interim Manager of Westgate, Francis Lalampaa, the Grazing Chairman, Michael Lesachore, and the Chairman of the Board, Ltepeswan Lesachore. The group discussed the various steps in how Westgate became a successful Conservancy and the benefits it now receives through wildlife – which include school bursaries, water projects, health clinics, security and much more.
Steve Okoth, the Community Warden from Kenya Wildlife Service, addressed issues such as compensation for human death, the importance of reporting on any wildlife conflict and building on a successful relationship between the community and the wildlife officials. Over lunch, we were able to show the group an educational and informative film on the importance of natural resources and how better to protect livestock against predators. Following this, the group visited the Core Conservation Area and Buffer Zone in Westgate to learn about successful grazing management in the area.
The Nakuprat-Gotu community members responded very positively to the talks and freely spoke of their problems with wildlife. We were impressed with their honesty and also their open-mindedness to conservation. The elders said they were impressed with what they saw on the exposure tour, and they are open to learning more about Westgate’s success in community conservation. They requested continued awareness about the importance of wildlife and the potential of receiving benefits through tourism or wildlife research within their own Conservancy.
Ewaso Lions thanks the Westgate Conservancy Management for all their assistance with the Nakuprat Community members and the Kenya Wildlife Service, Save the Elephants and Samburu National Reserve for their support during this exposure tour.