Category Archives: Ewaso Lions Camp

The Ewaso Lions Team Unites for a Day of Games

Our team is spread out across Samburu in both Westgate and Mpus Kutuk Conservancies, so we brought everyone together as a reminder we are one united Ewaso Lions team. For a full day we held a series of team building exercises and called this Tenebo Day, which means “together” in the Samburu language.

Our team has grown to 24 and includes our field staff, Lion Scouts, camp staff, plus members of the Warrior Watch programme. Everyone split into five teams and picked animals for their team names.

In this event, one person per team was blindfolded and had to navigate an obstacle course.

The blindfolded person had to rely on solid communication with his teammates to guide him through the course.

The elephant dung throw.

The winners – Team Buffalo – scored the most points in the events.

The winning team – Team Buffalo – got a very special prize: a 30 minute flight with elephant expert and Ewaso Lions partner Iain Douglas-Hamilton. The winners were so excited since they have never flown in a plane before.

Tug-of-war.

Lion conservation and research is often hard work, so part of Tenebo Day’s purpose is to have some fun and enjoy each other’s company.

Team Honey Badger huddles to stategise about the Scavenger Hunt.

Tenebo Day was a fun way to create cohesion among our team, test one another’s physical prowess, work on communication, and build trust. We are very thankful for Sasaab Lodge which sponsored the day.

Click here to see photos from last year’s team building day.

Ewaso Lions Welcomes Two New Staff Members

We are pleased to announce two new members of our core team; Yesalai Lemachokoti and Laikos Letupukwa.

Yesalai is a young Samburu warrior who comes from the Sasaab area in Westgate Conservancy. Yesalai is now our new Assistant Community Officer who will be assisting Ngila with recording all conflict incidences and working with the communities. With the increase in conflict in November 2011 during the rains, Ngila needed the additional support, to ensure that all incidences were being recorded. Following an initial training with Ngila, Yesalai is now working in the Sasaab area and based out of the Ewaso Lions Camp. Yesalai is also one of our warriors in the Warrior Watch programme and we are excited to be able to provide him with this new position.

YesalaiYesalai, Assistant Community Officer

Laikos Letupukwa comes from the Wamba area near Westgate and is our new camp cook. Laikos trained at a hotel on the Kenyan coast and came armed with lots of cooking skills. We are pleased to have him in camp as he feeds a growing number of Ewaso Lions team members and maintains camp.
Letupukwa Letupukwa, Camp Cook

We are grateful to the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative for funding Laikos’s position in 2012 and are currently seeking long-term secure funding for Yesalai’s position. If you would like to make a donation towards this, please click on the Donate Now button. Thank you!

Our Kitchen is Under Attack

Greetings from Ewaso Lions Camp! I’m writing today with an urgent plea for donations to help with some problems we are facing in our research camp here in Samburu. For weeks we have been fending off a small army of pests which are determined to overtake our kitchen and make our lives more difficult. Persistent porcupines, cute but sneaky genets, lizards, rodents, and even scorpions and snakes are coming into our kitchen and wreaking havoc.

We need to raise $450 for materials and labor to improve our kitchen and make it pest-proof. We need proper cupboards, wire mesh, and storage to keep things clean and safe. If you have been to our camp, you know it needs help. If you have not been, just imagine giant holes in the walls where the dust blows in and plenty of places where critters can enter to make a home.

Our job of lion conservation and research in Kenya is tough enough without being woken in the middle of the night to chase after a porcupine trying to steal our eggs and bread. Please help by donating anything you can so we can improve our kitchen. We want our food clean and we don’t want our cook to be bitten by a hiding snake! Thank you.

The kitchen walls have huge holes that let in dust and animals.

Our camera trap caught this white-tailed mongoose wreaking havoc in our kitchen at night. We need money for mesh to keep these guys out.

We found this unwanted visitor in our kitchen. We need proper cupboards so scorpions don’t live where we eat!

This is our sad store (and home to wasps). We need to build a proper store to keep our goods.

Life Inside a Lion Research Camp

Today we have a guest blogger  -Shane Dallas – who has supported Ewaso Lions since 2007 and has been a regular visitor to Samburu.  We were very happy to host Shane in August 2010 and today he writes about his stay with us in Westgate.  Here is one of the paragraphs from his blog:

“Back at the camp, whilst the team were attending to other duties, I wandered around on my own, and though working in the field on wildlife conservation is very appealing, it is not the easiest of lives. Here one has little electricity and minimal comforts. Basic supplies such as food are only available after long drives over poor roads. Floods and storms also impact on Samburu and the Ewaso Lions camp has had to undergo significant repairs on more than one occasion. The fact that people would willingly subject themselves to such privations away from the comfort of a “normal” life is a testament for the passion many in the conservation area have for their craft.”

For a full account of Shane’s stay, please visit this link:

http://www.travelblog.org/Africa/Kenya/Rift-Valley-Province/Samburu-NR/blog-583300.html

Ewaso Lions Mid-Year Report: News on Lions and Community Projects

Dear friends of Ewaso Lions,

We are pleased to present our Mid-Year Report to provide you with news from Samburu, information on our lion research and conservation activities, and to keep you posted on life in Camp. It’s been one of our most challenging field seasons yet – from severe drought to massive floods to increased threats to lions. The Ewaso Lions team pushes forward, working with communities, to ensure the long-term survival of Kenya’s top predators and other wildlife.

Lion News

We are currently monitoring close to 40 lions in the Ewaso ecosystem of Samburu. The lions did well during the drought of late 2009. All cubs survived and thrived when most other animals succumbed to the severity of the drought. Most of the females have cubs at the moment, including Magilani in Westgate. We are very excited to report that she was finally seen in April 2010 with two young cubs. She was last seen in August 2009, so it is a huge relief to see her again, especially with cubs.

Conflict:

Lions face high pressure from recent conflict. Lions are struggling to find wild prey and are turning to livestock. Recently in Westgate Conservancy, lions killed three camels; in response, we have held seven community meetings within the entire group ranch. We addressed the need to make bomas stronger with closed entrances so livestock does not escape and end up in predator territory. Herders need to be extra careful and avoid areas where lions are present. The meetings were well-received and the livestock owners have responded by reinforcing bomas to protect livestock better. We will be actively involved in a boma reinforcing project from May onwards thanks to support from our donors.

A lioness killed in retaliation by a person.

If conflict continues, things could get grim for the lions and we are working hard to continue with our awareness and education programmes. It is thanks to your donations that we are able to go out each day and hold meetings and travel around the group ranch talking to the communities about lions.

To read our blog on the increased conflict, click here.

Radio-Collaring:

After months of trying, we successfully collared the elusive male lion, Lguret, in late February. He was first collared in 2009 and it was time to replace his collar. It was no easy task to find him; we spent a total of 60 field days over the past eight months, averaging 12 hours each day, and driving nearly two thousand kilometers! Lguret now has a new radio/GPS tracking collar and we will be able to capture valuable movement data.

For photos and a detailed account on this collaring operation, click here.

Lguret, the radio-collared lion in Samburu.

We have begun to analyse the data from his old collar and preliminary results already show interesting patterns where he moved out of the reserves to areas where large numbers of livestock were present. Lguret was re-collared before the March floods and we are yet to know where he has gone during this time. We still have plans to collar at least four more individuals.

Collaring lions is very tough work and requires a lot of time and funds. We are grateful for all the donors who have assisted us so far and I urge you all to keep supporting us so we can monitor the Ewaso lions closely.

Camera Trapping:

Thanks to donors, we have acquired two camera traps for the project. Identifying individual predators in Westgate is difficult since they are nervous and often run away before we can take good identity photos. Plus, the candid photos of wildlife in the absence of humans may give us insight into some of their natural behaviours. Each night we place the camera traps in the Conservation Area of Westgate in strategic locations where we know lions, hyenas and other animals pass. It is always exciting in the mornings to go and check the cameras and see what the cameras have captured. So far, we have managed to get some great photos of elephants and hyenas (including one of a hyena biting the actual camera!). We have since built metal boxes around the cameras to deter curious and toothsome hyenas. In time, we hope to have a collection of ID photos to estimate the density of carnivores in this community area.

A spotted hyena captured by our camera trap.

Other Wildlife News:

Many animals died during the severe drought in 2009. Almost all buffalo, waterbuck, warthog and impala died during this time. The rains returned in October and the survivors made the most of the new grass shoots that emerged. Rains in March and April have created a lush green paradise in the reserves. Fattened oryx, huge herds of impala, gazelle and giraffe are scattered all over the reserves and elephants are back in large numbers.

We have been fortunate to have some good predator sightings, including our first cheetah sighting in Westgate. We are excited to have seen wild dogs on numerous occasions both in the reserves and in Westgate, including a pack that passed right behind our camp kitchen! We’ve also seen caracal and had a very special sighting of an aardvark. The vegetation has now begun to dry up and we are busy recording and monitoring all wildlife changes.

Wild dogs seen in the Conservation Area.

Staff News

Paul Thomson joined the Ewaso Lions team full-time in January. Paul has over five years professional experience in African wildlife conservation and is pursuing a Masters degree at Yale. Before joining Ewaso Lions, Paul worked with the African Wildlife Foundation in both Kenya and Washington, DC. We are very excited to have Paul join the team and you will be hearing a lot from him as well. Karibu sana Paul!

In April 2010, we employed two new field members. Moses Letitiya has taken over Jeneria’s position as Lion scout in the Sasaab region. Jeneria is now our head tracker and research assistant. Robert Lenongiro has recently started as Community Officer. Both Robert and Moses are from Westgate. Ricila is now in charge of the Warrior Watch programme (see below) and is Camp Chef. Joseph is Camp Manager and is being trained in data management.

The Ewaso Lions team.

PhD

After some challenges in 2009 due to the security troubles and severe drought, Shivani is busy catching up with PhD-related work and data analysis. She has about another year to complete her PhD with the University of Oxford. She will be traveling to Oxford towards the end of the year to begin writing her thesis. The guys will carry on with activities in the field and in Camp whilst Shivani is away.

News in Camp

Ewaso Lions Camp, located in Westgate Community Conservancy just outside Samburu National Reserve, has seen some real growth this past year. We finally have permanent shade, thanks to our new Mess structure kindly provided by Sasaab Lodge. It is no longer possible to pack up the whole camp in Gypsy the way we used to in 2008!

We still need a lot more in camp: more tents, tables, cooking items, and fuel. Our chairs are broken and solar battery has died. Also, with the rains, our bathrooms have all collapsed and need to be rebuilt. We appreciate any donation towards our Camp needs and are grateful to all of you who have supplied so much to date.

The project has just acquired a Toyota Landcruiser. The vehicle has been christened Winslow (don’t ask!) and is a great companion for the faithful Suzuki, Gypsy. Together, Winslow and Gypsy will allow us to expand the reach and impact of our work across our project area, which covers over 900 km2.

Paul driving around in Winslow, the new project vehicle.

We have hosted many visitors over the past few months. Christina Tsantes from Hunter College, New York, stayed with us for six weeks in July/August and greatly assisted with setting up of databases. Scott Smith from the Wildlife Conservation Society spent a wonderful week in camp in October and witnessed both the severity of the drought and the first rains. Stacey Gardebrecht visited and assisted us for a week in February, followed by Aimee Guha-Roy from the University of Oxford who helped with data and gained some field experience – little did she know she would arrive for the floods! We are happy to host Mary Wykstra and her team from the Action for Cheetahs in Kenya at our Camp whilst she conducts fieldwork in Samburu.

Warrior Watch

We are thrilled to announce our newest programme, Warrior Watch. Through Warrior Watch, Samburu warriors become active within their communities as wildlife ambassadors by reporting on wildlife sightings and issues such as conflict in exchange for a stipend and educational lessons. In partnership with Westgate Conservancy, we selected and trained the first six warriors in January. The programme is already showing signs of success: the warriors seem to genuinely enjoy their new roles; they’ve held meetings throughout the group ranch; and have attended over ten conflict cases in four months. We hope to increase the number of warriors in the programme and are currently seeking funds to enable us to do so. Meet the warriors and see what else they do here.

Shivani working with the warriors on predator tracks identification.

Sponsoring Students

We are happy to announce the first two students sponsored by Ewaso Lions, Samson and Edward. These bright boys completed primary school at Lpus Leluai here in Westgate Conservancy. Under the Ewaso Lions sponsorship, they will continue their education at a highly ranked secondary school in Meru, and their tuition will be covered for four academic years. We received donations from Christina, Nina, Kathy and Trey to enable the boys to go to school. At the end of their first term in their new school, both boys achieved a grade of B- in their subjects, and we are thrilled with these results. Meet the boys here!

New Book: Simba Stories

In May, Ewaso Lions will release Simba Stories, a book of poems, stories and illustrations that celebrate lions, all made by students from Lpus Leluai Primary School in Westgate. The artwork encapsulates their perceptions of lions as they parse together their own young experiences with those learnt in their community and through conservation education programmes. We will be distributing the book locally to increase awareness on the importance of lions and conservation.

Simba Stories will be available for purchase – the details will be posted online. Proceeds from book sales will be used to establish a Wildlife Club at Lpus Leluai Primary School. A very special thanks to Lindsay Morency for putting the book together and making it look so fantastic!

Floods in Samburu

On March 4th, Samburu was rocked by severe flooding, which left eight camps and lodges destroyed, hundreds of people without jobs, infrastructure ruined, and tourism essentially shut down in the area. We were very fortunate – the Ewaso Lions camp was not affected.

Ewaso Lions’ friends and donors responded quickly to our appeals and we were able to assist many Samburu residents with food and clothing. Things are now beginning to recover and lodges and camps are being constructed and repaired. We are yet to assess the impact on wildlife as so many roads are still impassable. See photos of the flood and its aftermath here.

Launch of Kenya’s Lion and Spotted Hyena Strategy

Ewaso Lions was represented at the launch of the National Lion Strategy. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officially launched it at an event in Nairobi on the 17th of February together with the strategies for spotted hyena, cheetahs and wild dogs. This management plan recognises the current and potential geographical range for lions and the threats facing them, and provides guidance for their conservation and management.

Ewaso Lions played an important role in the management plan by providing data and information on lions and hyenas from the Samburu region. Ricila & Mporian, warriors from our Warrior Watch programme, joined Joseph, Paul, and Shivani at the KWS headquarters for the launch. Mporian was given the honour of opening the ceremony with a traditional Samburu blessing.

Lion Research Safari

In January, we had our first Lion Research Safari in conjunction with Gamewatchers (a fantastic, eco-friendly safari company which has a number of Porini Camps in Kenya). Our guests, the Wills family of Scotland joined us during our research activities in Shaba and visited our community programmes in Westgate. For more information on Lion Research Safaris, and how they help our project, go to: http://www.porini.com/lion-research-safari.html

Kenyan Kids on Safari

We have now taken more than 40 young kids on game drives in Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Kenyan Kids on Safari (KKOS) and Todd Cromwell donated cameras, binoculars and a print station to Ewaso Lions to allow us to take young children in villages and schools into the National Reserves to see wildlife. Many of these children have never seen the big cats or elephants close-up and only get to see the negative side of wildlife. Together with Intrepids and Sasaab lodges, we have shown these kids a positive side of wildlife. We hope to take more kids on safari in 2010. For more, visit kidsonsafari.org

Children from Kenyan Kids on Safari.

Tree Project

We have planted 75 trees to date within schools and villages in Westgate. Unfortunately most of the trees died during the 2009 drought. We hope to resume and reenergize the Tree Project over the next few months.

Westgate Marathon

Together with Sasaab Lodge and Westgate Conservancy, we held the first-ever Westgate Marathon on the 1st of May, 2010. The Westgate Marathon was open to everyone. The theme was “Running for Lions.” The marathon was a huge success – we had 30 runners participate including five from the Ewaso Lions team. The winners will be sponsored to run the famous Safaricom Lewa Marathon in June. We hope to hold another Westgate Marathon in 2011 and this time both Paul and Shivani will be out there running for lions!

Joseph running in the Westgate Marathon.

New Ewaso Lions Logo

Ewaso Lions finally has a logo! Paul helped create the bold new logo, which will raise the profile of our growing project and has given our team a sense of identity. We now have stylish new shirts and decals on our vehicles bearing the logo. We hope you like it!

Blog, Facebook and Twitter

Ewaso Lions has launched a full-scale attack on the Internet. We’ve updated our website, we continue to blog as much as possible, and we are more and more active in growing our online community through our Facebook and Twitter pages. Please friend us, follow us, and send us feedback. Also, spread the word and encourage your friends to join Ewaso Lions.

——–

Thanks to you – our donors and partners – we have come this far in a relatively short period of time. Without your support, our work would not be possible. We are making real progress here, but there is still so much more to be done. We hope you will continue to support this important work as we continue to expand our research and conservation programmes.

Your donations and support are ultimately helping safeguard the future of lions, while improving peoples’ livelihoods, in the Ewaso region of northern Kenya. Donate online here.

For lions. For people. Forever.

With our very best wishes from Samburu,

Shivani Bhalla & Paul Thomson

Directors, Ewaso Lions

Contact

Ewaso Lion Project

P.O. Box 14996

Nairobi 00800

Kenya

Tel: (+254) 721 696 443

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.ewasolions.org

Blog: www.ewasolions.wildlifedirect.org

Join Ewaso Lions on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @EwasoLions

Camp Has A New Look!

The Ewaso Lions camp has a new look!   We’ve lived here now for 16 months and it was definitely time for some improvements.  Click here to see what camp looked like in 2008 when we first moved here.

Sasaab Lodge generously donated and constructed a waterproof shade in camp.  Before this, we had a canvas sheet but unfortunately this got torn and destroyed in the sun and strong winds (click here to see blog on this).  This is what we had before:

dsc_0782.jpg

Ricila trying to tie the torn fly sheet

The carpenters from Sasaab built the frame for the new structure and we had some iron sheets put on top of it, after which we painted it green.  Our next plan is to put “makuti” (thatch) on top of the roof.

s7300100.jpg

Building the frame

img_2548.jpg

Painting the iron sheets green

img_2555.jpg

The completed structure

Our kitchen also has been renovated! Joseph worked hard to make it bigger and higher so we don’t have to crouch any more.

s7300115.jpg

Joseph working on the kitchen

s7300143.jpg

The new and improved kitchen

The bathroom and loo were also renovated.  The walls are more sturdy now thanks to the thatching, although I’ve had to battle with the camels recently as they were trying to eat the makuti thatching!  To remind you what it used to look like:

bush-bathroom.jpg

Bush bathroom in 2008

bathroom.jpg

New bathroom

Lastly, we now have an office in camp! This was my old tent and has now become a store/office. Our old store had fallen apart and thanks to donations from WildlifeDirect blog readers we were able to get newer, more sturdy tents.  We will eventually get  2 desks and chairs put in.  I have a new tent now – its smaller than my old one (now the office) but still very cool and as I recently discovered, it is waterproof!

img_2562.jpg

New office tent and store

camp-rainbow.jpg

A view of camp

A huge thanks to Sasaab lodge management, Madeliene Todd,  Stuart McCullum, Chip Owen, Sammy Leleseita and Brenton H for funds to  help us make camp look so much better!

We Urgently Need New Tents!

We are now desperately in need of small camping tents for the Echo Lima (Ewaso Lions) Camp.  We donated one to the community scouts a few weeks ago as they often work at night in the Conservation Area in West Gate.  Now, our second small tent has succumbed to the intense heat and strong winds we have been experiencing recently in West Gate.

The fly sheet has totally disintegrated and a few days ago the poles broke.  We tried using duct tape to fix the pole, but it didn’t work!  Raphael uses this tent and is now pretty desperate for a new one.  I have had this tent for 18 years now and used it often during camping trips when I was a child.  I think the tent has come to end of its life!

s7300382.jpg

The disintegrated tent with broken poles

s7300384.jpg

Raph trying to hold the tent together

Please consider our appeal for new tents.  Our mess tent also fell apart and now this tent.  We urgently need new tents.  Any amount donated will be put together to purchase 2 new tents costing $150 in total.

Life at the Echo Lima Camp

Many of you have asked me what it is like to live at the Ewaso Lions research camp or Echo Lima camp as its known. It has been an amazing few months in this small bush remote camp in the West Gate Community Conservancy and I want to share with you some of our experiences here.

We set up the camp on June 6th. We decided on the location as it was the only flat bit of land we could find which had a few trees and was within close proximity to the nearby Sasaab Lodge staff quarters where we would get water. Our site is open and is at the base of a small rocky hill. On the other side of the hill is the Pukur lugga (sand river) where livestock come to drink during the day and hyenas and lions at night. The views are spectacular as we are surrounded by hills and the Samburu sacred mountain, Ol Lolokwe, is in the distance.

pukur-lugga.JPG

The Pukur lugga near camp

We put up a small mess tent using a canvas sheet and some ropes, a bush kitchen, dug a hole in the ground as a loo, erected some posts for a bathroom and 2 tents for sleeping. We collected dead logs and trees pushed over by elephants to form the posts of the loo, bathroom and kitchen and surrounded them with sack material.

joseph.jpg

Joseph in the kitchen

bathroom-1.JPG

The Bathroom

We live in perpetual dust and have had some strong winds over the past few weeks. This is the windiest time of the year and our camp has blown away a few times with the materials surrounding the loo, bathroom and kitchen collapsing. And since the structures are held up by dead trees, everything is always falling over!

We have many animal friends visit our camp on a daily basis. The nearby lodge camels often graze on our site as do donkeys who stray from the Pukur lugga during the day. However they vanished once after they got a whiff of the lion scat near the bush laboratory in camp, and nowadays keep their distance.

We have 2 dik diks that have become so accustomed to our presence that they feed on the Acacia pods in the mess tent whilst we are sitting there! 15 kudus also ran through camp a few days ago which was great to see.

The birdlife is amazing. We have all kinds of hornbills, yellow spotted petronias, various weaver species in camp everyday feeding on the crumbs in the kitchen and near the mess tent.

We also have predators in camp. Hyenas are heard almost on a daily basis and on one occasion 2 hyenas killed a donkey in the Pukur lugga. We’ve also had lions walk through without us knowing it as we saw their tracks in the morning in between my tent and the warriors tent.

tent-and-shower-area.JPG

Shower and tent area

Big bull elephants love the area. The Kipsing lugga a few kilometers away is one of their favourite resting areas and it is where all the lone bulls come together and hang out in their bachelor groups. Often in the evenings, they leave the Ewaso Nyiro River and move towards the hills feeding well into the night. We have had elephants in camp often at night, and on one occasion 2 huge bulls came and knocked over one of our Acacia trees to the ground. We only had 4 large trees on our site… and now its down to 3.

Unfortunately we also live with termites; a real nightmare to live with! They have been eating away at the loo for a few months now. However much we try to get rid of them, they return. I am worried that they will eat the entire loo and it will collapse at some stage. I may need to get a plastic loo seat soon.

loo.JPG

termite-loo.JPG

The termite infested loo!

We have many human visitors too during the day. Warriors often walk through camp. Women from the nearby Sasaab village stop by to ask for lifts to West Gate or Archers Post. We chat about the weather, livestock, the village and more. The lodge staff or conservancy scouts and personnel come to say hi often and for a quick cup of chai as we catch up on news within the group ranch. The Echo Lima camp has become a popular spot over the past few months and it has been great meeting new people and getting to know the community.

I am able to power my laptop and charge our phones using a fantastic solar set-up which has worked out really well so far. Thank you so much for your contributions to date towards paying off the loan for the solar system. I still require $200 to complete payments and am grateful for any donation towards this.
joseph-packing-away-solar-panel.jpg

Joseph packing away the solar system every evening from the mess tent, which is the shadiest and coolest place in camp

We get water for our camp from the nearby lodge staff quarters. I carry 4 20-litre plastic jerricans in Gypsy and fill them up there. The 4 cans last us about 3 days depending on how many we are in camp. We put 1 jerrican out in the sun for hot water – its amazing how hot it actually gets! Water is scarce in the entire region, and living here has definitely taught me how to use only what is absolutely necessary. It is incredible how quickly one gets used to living off a small bucket of water a day.
tap.jpg

Camp tap – a plastic bottle with a hole and covered with duct tape

Meals are simple but wholesome. Our main meal is ugali and dengu (green lentils) which we eat almost every day. I get vegetables once a week from the reserve and this lasts us a few days. We eat a lot of rice too. Joseph recently made bread in a small hole in the ground with some tin foil, coals and pots. It was amazing and the best bush bread I have ever eaten!

bush-oven.JPG

The bush oven

joseph-with-bread.JPG

Joseph putting the finishing touches on the bread

bush-bread.JPG

Bush bread!

We planted 2 umbrella thorn Acacia trees in camp with the intention of planting more. One of our trees was doing really well but sadly we woke up one morning to find it totally eaten. We saw gerenuk tracks all around. The other tree is doing well and we are keeping the dik diks away from it.

planting-trees-in-camp.jpg

Raphael and Joseph plant an Acacia tree in camp

Every morning I leave camp at 5 30 am to drive through the Conservation Area looking for tracks and predators. We are normally back by 8 am by which time Jeneria is ready to leave on his patrol. We then have a radio-call with all the scouts to check that everything is ok before they leave on their patrols and to also see whether anyone heard lions at night or received a report.

I then normally head out again after a quick breakfast of camel milk chai and bush bread. I attend community meetings, conduct recces within the conservancy, map the group ranch, follow the scouts on their routes, visit schools, look for lions or sit in villages and chat to the community about lions. Every day is different and is planned the night before. However, I have learned that it is sometimes best to just head out and see what happens during the day as every day something new and unexpected happens and being flexible is the key to working and living out here. Sometimes planning just doesn’t work!

I normally head back to camp by 3 or 4 pm, have a late lunch and then sit on my laptop doing emails, report writing, funding applications or writing these blogs. By 6 pm, I have a “shower”, we eat dinner by 7 30 and chat and laugh until about 8 or 8 30 and then its off to bed.

Living at the Echo Lima camp is quite an experience. I love every single day of being here. The hot, dusty, windy days with stunning sunsets and starry nights, and working with a great team, has been fantastic and I look forward to new adventures that each day brings.

gypsy-in-the-dust.jpg

Heading out on a new adventure…

Echo Lima camp

The Ewaso Lions (known as Echo Lima ) camp has been set up! After doing a lot of running around in Nairobi last week buying solar panels, food, tents and more, I finally made it to Samburu a few days ago. I packed up all my stuff at the elephant research camp where I used to live and drove off to West Gate Conservancy where I would be setting up base for the next few months. After some discussions, a base was established approximately 100 metres away from the staff houses at the stunning Sasaab lodge. We found a suitable site which was relatively flat. Two tents have been put up, one for me and the other for the guys. A little makeshift mess tent as well and a kitchen too pretty much made out of dead trees and branches and a bit of canvas. I am getting water from the staff area of Sasaab Lodge and also they have kindly allowed me to use their internet which is brilliant. The camp is great and already feeling like home!

I have taken a loan out to buy a solar panel, enough to charge my one computer, a rechargeable spot light and a light in the mess tent. Its working really well so far and I am very pleased with the solar set-up. This has all been a learning experience for me and up until a few days ago, I didn’t know how a solar panel, battery, inverter, charge controller all worked! But now I do and its great. I would be so grateful to receive any donations for the solar panel – the entire set-up cost $700.

This will be home for the next 3 months and although it was pretty scary setting this up, I am also excited too. We have heard hyena every night since being here and have seen tracks pretty close to camp. I also went out to drive around and discover West Gate Conservancy and found perfect lion areas where the scouts have been seeing tracks and sightings too. Kudus are around, hyrax everywhere (there is a kopje right next to camp with beautiful views!) and camels too!

My plan for the next few months is to work closely with the scouts, radio-collar some lions and hold some community workshops and also to try and provide an estimate for lion numbers in this community area. Every 2 weeks I will return to Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserve for 2 nights to keep tabs of the resident reserve lions.

Below are a few photos of the camp… on the way to West Gate, unpacking the car, the mess tent, solar set-up, working on my laptop, view of the whole bush camp.

on-the-way-to-west-gate.JPG

gypsy-full.JPG

mess-tent.JPG

solar-set-up.JPG

working-on-laptop.JPG

camp-view.JPG

More news from West Gate in the next few days….