Tag Archives: Westgate Community Conservancy

Exposure Tour Shares Conservation Lessons Across Two Communities

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.

The Chairlady of Nakuprat-Gotu Conservancy discusses wildlife conservation and tourism benefits to community members during the exposure tour visit to Samburu National Reserve.

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.

Chairman of Westgate Community Conservancy discusses the benefits his conservancy has received from wildlife.

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.

The group visits the grazing zone in Westgate Conservancy.

Jeneria from Ewaso Lions shows the group one of our reinforced bomas that prevents hyenas and other carnivores from preying on livestock.

 

A Surprise in Westgate’s Conservation Area

Since the rains and floods that took place in November 2011, it was difficult for us to conduct our regular transects and drives in the Core Conservation Area in Westgate Community Conservancy. The area began to dry up slowly and we were able to finally start our drives in early January. For the first few weeks, we struggled to see any animals. Most of the wildlife had dispersed away from the Ewaso Nyiro River into the hills. We literally had a few gerenuk sightings and one leopard sighting; not much else for weeks. We had seen some lion tracks but were unable to find them.

On the 28th of January, we got a report that a lioness had been seen in the Core Area. I got really excited and immediately thought “Magilani!”. Jeneria and I left camp quickly and headed straight into the Core Area. I was excited yet nervous at the same time. We got to the area at 3 pm and immediately spotted the lioness. She was sitting under a tree in some thick bushes. As we approached, she barely flinched and didn’t even look at us. This was not the normal behaviour of a lion in a community area. They are rarely out in the daytime and often at the sight or sound of human presence, they disappear quickly. This female sat there without moving. I looked through my binoculars and realised that this was in fact a young female -and not Magilani. I was disappointed for a few minutes but interested and excited at the same time to figure out who this female was.

DSC_0444Nabulo sits under the tree – our first sighting of the trio

The pieces fell into place quickly. Jeneria and I discovered this female was Nabulo; one of three females from the Koitogor Pride in Samburu National Reserve, who left her mother, Nabo, in 2011. We soon spotted the other two females, the beautiful Sipen and Nanai (Jeneria’s favourite lion!). They had made a waterbuck kill and were resting in the shade near the kill.

We spent the afternoon with these beautiful lionesses and watched them come down to drink, feed on the kill and sit on the beached banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River. It was a special afternoon and our best lion sighting yet in Westgate.

DSC_0478_2Sipen comes to drink

DSC_0521Nanai and Nabulo drink

DSC_0580_2Feeding on their waterbuck kill

Jeneria’s reaction to this sighting was one of concern. He said, “These lions don’t know how to behave in community areas. They don’t know how to hide or to avoid people and danger. They are too calm and in the open. How will they survive here?”. I understood and agreed with his concerns and we decided to make sure the community were aware of their presence and monitor their movements to see if they would go back to Samburu National Reserve or stay in Westgate. This is the first time we have seen Reserve lions in Westgate and are keen to follow up to ensure their safety and monitor their movements.

IMG_0853A beautiful evening with Nabulo, Sipen and Nanai along the Ewaso Nyiro River

Ewaso Lions Sponsors Young Girl To Attend Secondary School

We have recently sponsored a young 15 year old Samburu girl, Painoti Letabare, to attend secondary school in Maralal, Samburu District. Painoti comes from the Westgate area in Westgate Conservancy and lives with her parents and younger siblings. She is the first from the family to be given the opportunity to attend secondary school after she completed primary school a few months ago.

Painoti studied at the Lpus Leluai Primary School where she attained 260 marks in the Primary School exams and was the top girl in the school. Her family who only have a few goats as livestock were unable to afford to send her to secondary school after she received admission in one of Samburu District’s best girls’ schools – Kisima High. Ewaso Lions followed her progress and learned about her family situation and decided to enroll young Painoti in our Bursary Programme to join Samson and Edward, the two boys Ewaso Lions is currently sponsoring.

We are excited to have Painoti attend secondary school and will keep you updated on her progress.

Painoti and mama

Painoti with her mother and youngest sister. Her mother is thrilled to send her oldest daughter to school

Painoti on her way to school
Painoti excited to be given the opportunity to go to school

Camera Traps Success

We’ve been using camera traps in Westgate Community Conservancy in Samburu since February this year and have captured images of rare nocturnal creatures almost every night.   Being a community area, the animals are nervous and don’t come out of the thick bushes until they feel safe at night.   We often only get a glimpse of a hyena’s ears or a lion’s tail.  Camera traps help document the numbers and types of species not accessible during daytime or which are shy around vehicles. Plus, the candid photos of wildlife in the absence of humans may give us insight into some of their natural behaviors. We set up the traps every evening and collect them the following morning.  It is very exciting when we check the traps every morning and see what animals have wandered through the Conservation Area.

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Jeneria setting up the trap

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Checking the photos the following morning

During the first night we put out the traps in February, a hyena came and bit the trap which luckily survived but we were quick to construct some metal cages which the camera trap can sit in without being bothered by hyenas.  It did not stop an elephant from knocking it over however!  Here are some images that we have captured since February.

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I was not able to see this animal, until I looked at it many times. Can you spot it?

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A rare nocturnal animal – do you know what it is?

MDGC0062Here’s the bull elephant who knocked over the trap – photo was taken just before he took a swing at it

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A rare animal in the Conservation Area – signs of the reticulated giraffe

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An African Hare who likes its photo taken – it would come out almost at the same time every night in the same spot and pose in front of the camera.

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Thanks to the camera traps, we are able to identify individual hyenas using their spot pattern

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Success with photographing Magilani and her cubs!

We have had great success with the two traps that we have put out. Special thanks to Dale Anderson from Cathaven who helped us purchase these Moultrie and Leafriver traps . We are looking to acquire a further two traps which we can use in the areas where Francis and Jeremiah, the Ewaso Lions Scouts, are working.  Each one costs approx $250.  Any donation made towards this will be most appreciated!