Category Archives: Warriors

Training Warriors with Grevy’s Zebra Trust

We teamed up with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) team earlier in the year to train their new Warrior recruits from the Laisamis region, north of Samburu. This week-long training exercise brought together our Warriors from Westgate with ten Samburu and Rendille Warriors focusing on Grevy’s zebra monitoring in an area where they are threatened by lack of resources and hunting. The GZT Warriors learned about predators and how to mitigate conflict, and our Warrior Watch team also learnt about the behaviour and ecology of Grevy’s zebra, the conservation issues facing the species, and what is being done to address their plight. The Warriors were given the opportunity to work together in the field. This was very effective as they discussed their roles in wildlife conservation and the challenges they face. We wish the Grevy’s zebra Warriors all the very best in their work in northern Kenya.

Ewaso Lions Team Building Day

Taylor Tully writes about the Ewaso Lions Team Building Day that took place a few weeks ago in Westgate Community Conservancy, Samburu.

On November 6th, Ewaso Lions held its first Team Building event.  The day had 16 members of the Ewaso Lions team, including our Lion Scouts, Warriors and core staff, competing in various events that tested their ability to work as a team, as well as their physical prowess. The focus of the event was to build teamwork and strengthen communication, respect and trust among the staff.

The day started off with morning chai and discussions about teamwork, led by Shivani and myself.  To begin the competition, the team was divided up into four teams of four, each appropriately named after an African mammal. The first event was a scavenger hunt, followed by a relay race, fire-building challenge, blindfolded exercises and tug of war.  All of the staff really took to the games and you could feel the competitive energy in the air.

Taylor and team

Discussing Team Building with the Ewaso Lions team

Strategizing

The “Lion Team” strategize prior to the Scavenger Hunt

Fire challenge

Fire Challenge

Throughout the day, the competition was close and each team had its successes and challenges, but in the end, “Team Leopard” pulled ahead and won the team prize; four brand new kikois (coloured cloth).  Overall, the day was a great success and all of us saw an improvement in our communication, teamwork and sense of kinship.

Competitive team

The Ewaso Lions Team enjoying the events

Winning team leopard

The winning “Leopard Team” (from left to right): Yesalai, Ljarusi, Moses and Reria

Though I was busy running the event, my favorite part of the day was definitely the relay-race, which involved three stages: a three-legged race, a sack race and a “piggy-back” race.  We all shared many laughs during this event.   I also really enjoyed watching the teams complete the blindfold exercises, which involved team members directing a blindfolded teammate to walk through a “minefield” and erect a tent.

Tent erecting

Jeneria helps Francis erect a tent blind-folded

I really enjoyed coordinating and participating in such a fun event and thank Sasaab Lodge for funding it.

Ewaso Lions Selected for the Green Travel List 2011

The Guardian has just released its Green Travel List for 2011 and guess who is on it! Ewaso Lions and our Warrior Watch programme, in conjunction with Sasaab Lodge, is listed as one of this year’s 25 most innovative projects. The list was published in the Saturday edition of The Guardian, the British national newspaper. The list was compiled by a panel of experts who were looking for “authentic community projects worldwide that genuinely give back to the local people and the destination.”

Warrior Watch is one of only 25 projects selected from hundreds of nominations by readers of the Guardian and Greentraveller.co.uk.

Our partner, Sasaab Lodge – a top eco-tourism destination  – supports Warrior Watch and guests who stay at the Lodge can get involved by visiting the warriors and helping with the Sunday education component.

We are very honored to have been chosen! We hope this brings a lot of new exposure to the project and Samburu.

For more, visit www.greentraveller.co.uk

For more on Warrior Watch, click here.

Warriors And Scouts Training

We recently completed a successful 3 day training workshop with Warriors and Scouts from Westgate and Mpus Kutuk Conservancies.  Prior to the workshop, we conducted tests with all the participants using photos of predators and asked lengthy questions, to know more about what they knew prior to the training.  The training covered various aspects of wildlife conservation, including predator ecology and identification, wildlife monitoring, conflict issues, tracking, prey identification, grazing and much more.

Ngila

Ngila, Ewaso Lions Community Officer, speaking about Predator Proof Bomas and Improved Husbandry Methods

During the training

During the training

Moses and tracks

Moses, Ewaso Lions Scout, explains the different predator tracks

participantsQ&A session with the participants

At the end of the training, we traveled to Samburu Reserve, where we went looking for all the predators the team had learned about.  We had a fantastic and extremely lucky game drive!  We saw 2 leopards, a newborn lion cub, 3 sub-adult lions chasing a leopard, and the two big resident male lions of Samburu.

Getting close to eles

Getting close to elephants

Lguret

Lguret makes an appearance

newborn

Nashipai’s newborn

Leopard and lions

Leopard stuck in a tree with 3 lionesses at the bottom!

Watch this clip to see what happened to the leopard stuck in the tree…

Lions Chase Leopard in Samburu National Reserve

Thanks to Sasaab Lodge and our project vehicle, we were able to fit the team of 30.  The wardens of Samburu gave the warriors and scouts a talk on the reserve and its importance for wildlife and at the end of the tour, David from Save the Elephants, also spoke to the team about elephants and the current poaching crisis in the region.

On Safari

The team thoroughly enjoys their safari experience

team at STE

The team at Save the Elephants

It was a successful few days and everyone enjoyed it a lot.  Armed with all this new information and knowledge, the warriors and scouts traveled back to their home areas after a goat feast, excited to share their information and work hard to ensure the safety of wildlife in their home areas.  Lpuresi, one of the warriors from Westgate, said “We are proud of our wildlife and let us all be the messengers of conservation”.

As a result of the training, I completed a wildlife conservation training manual with a focus on predators which I hope to share with others involved in community conservation.

Warriors at Work

The Warriors from the Warrior Watch Programme have been engaged in conservation since January 2010.  Following the success of the programme, we recently expanded into the neighbouring Mpus Kutuk Conservancy.  We now have 16 warriors actively involved in wildlife conservation.

Since December 2010, each of the warriors have spent a number of weeks with us in camp.  They have been busy learning how to use GPS units, recording data, visiting schools and talking to the students about their roles in conservation, digging waterholes for the wildlife, tracking and spotting lions, setting up camera traps and much more.  We now have 5 warriors who are able to record their own wildlife sightings using GPS units and binoculars donated by Afrique Horizons.  Jeneria has supervised and worked closely with all the warriors, teaching them on a daily basis.  We are really proud of the warriors who are so excited by their roles in conservation.

Jeneria training Lpuresi

Jeneria shows Lpuresi how to use a GPS unit

Lpuresi in the field

Lpuresi records a gerenuk sighting in the Conservation Area

notebook

Lpuresi proudly displays his notebook!

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Sopili sees a plane close-up for the first time at the Sasaab airstrip

Lentiyo lions

Lentiyo spots lions and learns their identities in Samburu National Reserve

Lentiyo school

Lentiyo speaks to the school children about wildlife and their importance in Westgate Community Conservancy – the visit was sponsored by Sasaab Lodge

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Lpuresi sets up a camera trap in the Conservation Area

We require your assistance to keep this programme going – we need more GPS units and binoculars, funds for training, food stipends and more.  Please consider making a donation to this programme.  Thank you!

Warrior Watch Expands to Mpus Kutuk

Warriors in Westgate have been engaged in conservation and part of our Warrior Watch programme since January 2010.  The 5 warriors from Westgate Community Conservancy have remained enthusiastic and excited about their roles in conservation through 2010 as they reported on wildlife sightings, attended conflict cases and held meetings of their own with other warriors on the importance of wildlife.  They attended training sessions, visited the reserves on educational tours and also spent weeks with us in camp learning and getting involved in research activities.

Following the success of Warrior Watch in Westgate in 2010, we recently expanded into the neighbouring Mpus Kutuk Conservancy in February 2011.  Mpus Kutuk is located South of the Ewaso Nyiro River, directly opposite Westgate.  Mpus Kutuk also hosts the crucial Kipsing corridor, where lions, elephants, endangered wild dogs and Grevy’s zebra connect between Samburu and Laikipia Districts.

Following an initial meeting with the Northern Rangelands Trust, we held a few meetings between us, Westgate Conservancy and the management of Mpus Kutuk.  Soon after this, the Head of Security Teti and manager of Mpus Kutuk Peter, selected 6 new warriors to join the Warrior Watch Programme.  At the same time, Stephen the Head of Security of Westgate selected an additional 3 warriors from Westgate.  We had identified 3 gaps in Westgate Conservancy where we had no warriors and after managing to secure some funds, we now have 8 warriors active in conservation in Westgate supervised by our very own Jeneria Lekilele.

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The Warrior Watch Programme group from Ewaso Lions, Westgate and Mpus Kutuk Community Conservancies

We held a 2-day training session with the new warriors.  The training was an intensive 2-day event where we covered all the important topics related to wildlife conservation in the region.  We also took the new warriors on a drive in the Westgate Conservation Area (thanks to Sasaab lodge for their vehicle) and they were very impressed with this wildlife zone and the grasses that were currently there in the midst of a drought.

ppt

Training the warriors

CA drive

Taking a drive in the Conservation Area

Teti explains

Teti from Mpus Kutuk explains to the warriors about the importance of a Conservation Area

Following the training, the warriors returned to their homes.  We met them 10 days later to hear their feedback and progress.  All 9 new warriors were doing well and excited about their new wildlife conservation roles in their home regions.  We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

Training group

We need funds to keep this vital programme going.  Please consider making a donation towards the Warrior Watch programme so we can engage more warriors in conservation and create a network of warriors in conservation in Northern Kenya.

Water for Wildlife

Over the past few weeks, the drought has worsened in the area.  The Ewaso Nyiro River has been dry for a while now and we’ve been digging waterholes in the dry river-bed for the wildlife.  Fortunately, the number of elephants has increased in the area and they have assisted in providing water for the other animals by digging with their tusks.  However, large areas have no water at all.  We surveyed the entire river in Westgate Community Conservancy and selected 3 strategic locations for digging holes.  We don’t have to dig too far down – just a couple of feet before clean water seeps up through the sand.  However, livestock during the day and elephants at night often push the sand into the holes and we often have to re-dig the entire hole the next day.  We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and have got everyone involved.  Sasaab Lodge has 4 holes in front of the lodge and the Westgate scouts have dug east of the lodge.  We have the entire Conservation Area covered with our holes and have had volunteers, warriors, researchers and guests all digging every day.

Jene digging

Yesalai

Jeneria and Yesalai, two Samburu warriors, dig holes for the wildlife

Chip digging

Chip Owen, our great friend and supporter of Ewaso Lions, digs a hole too!

checking tracks and picking camera

Scouts and warriors come to check the holes in the morning for tracks to see what has come to drink from them (Photo taken by the camera trap)

wild dogs

A real treat – just as we were finished digging this hole, a pack of 20 wild dogs came running down the river and started drinking from the hole we had just dug – right in front of us!

At each hole, we have set up camera traps to capture images of the animals that are coming to drink from the holes and to see how effective they are.  We have had huge success and know that these waterholes are really helping these animals.  All the predators have come to drink  -striped and spotted hyenas, leopard and jackals.  We’ve even had the endangered Grevy’s zebra, elephants daily, mongoose and loads of birds.

striped hyena

This striped hyena is a daily visitor

elephants drink

Elephants come every night!

We will keep digging and helping these animals daily.  However, we’re waiting for the rain to come and the river to start flowing again.  We can’t wait.  There are signs of rain….which is the good news!

In The Company of Warriors

Here’s another blog from Lauren Ross, our Ewaso Lions volunteer

A photograph doesn’t do this place justice! This is one of many things I’ve learned about the Samburu area. I’ve tried to photograph as many aspects as possible in order to attempt to convey to my family and friends the awe inspired within by the beauty that surrounds me. Yet even with perfect lighting, good angles and auto-focus it never looks as stunning or majestic in the viewfinder. After each photograph I look up from my camera and marvel at everything I see, wishing there was a better way to capture these images forever. It’s such a pity for those who can’t experience this for themselves…and yet all the more reason for all of you reading this blog to get out here for a visit to understand what I’m describing!

Some of the most fun and intriguing subjects I like to photograph are the Samburu Warriors themselves. But this is not your average “pay as you go” experience I’ve been told most tourists partake in. These warriors have become my friends, my protectors, my teachers and my students, depending on the time of day. I wake up and hop in the car for a game drive with them, eat all my meals with them, teach them things ranging from basic English to how to use a GPS, and go for walks in the bush with my only protection being their knowledge of the area and it’s wildlife, their sharp eyes and a small weapon they carry. Most importantly, I constantly learn from them; knowledge about how to work hard, how to be tough, how to have respect. I’m learning how to live in the moment, how to be quiet and sit perfectly still when there’s no external stimulation to entertain me, how to be genuinely kind and considerate by offering anything and everything to my fellow man/woman in need, and how to remain upbeat and positive in the midst of hardship and struggle, like now, when a second drought has begun after just recovering from the first. We have so much to learn from each other, it’s a shame my time with Ewaso Lions is coming to an end.

I think one of the key lessons I’ve learned from this lifestyle is to appreciate what I have and not be wasteful of things we, as Americans, often take for granted. I’m referring mainly to water usage. This building-block of life is probably more valuable than gold in this area, because in an arid, savannah environment, having water flowing in the river can often mean life or death. And yet back home I am often guilty of taking long showers, letting the water run as I wash the dishes or dumping “excess” dirty water down the drain. It’s amazing how different I now feel about this life-giving substance our bodies rely on.  The animals and people here walk miles to fetch water on a daily basis, and from now on I feel I can’t bare to waste this precious resource that flows freely from my tap halfway across the globe. This is one of the messages I plan to take home with me.

All in all, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn such new and diverse life skills and feel that even though it can be hard to face the facts sometimes, it puts things in perspective and I come out the other side a stronger, wiser person who’s seen what really matters in life. Come visit and you’ll see what I mean.

Lauren and warriors

Lauren, third from left in the middle row, together with Taylor (Ewaso Lions volunteer), Shivani and friend, Chip Owen (on the far right) and all the warriors from the Warrior Watch Programme (Photo credit:  Tim Jackson)