Conservation & Wildlife Security

Elephant Rescue

At the beginning of this month, two elephant calves were rescued by Loisaba’s security team and were flown to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in partnership with KWS and Tropic Air. Read more about their rescue here!

World Giraffe Day

On the 21st, World Giraffe Day was celebrated here at Loisaba’s Conservation Centre with a small group of community members and Loisaba employees. All COVID-19 protocols were followed, and the group learned about the work San Diego Zoo Global are doing to help save this iconic species.

Community

Health

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are continuing to support our local communities. Two outreach clinics were conducted this month (5th and 26th) at neighbouring towns with little access to healthcare, with a total of 98 patients treated for minor illnesses. They were also educated about COVID-19 with the team giving information on the symptoms and preventative measures, including teaching the children social distancing and donating masks. This brings the total number of patients attended to in 2020 by our Clinical Health Officer Kaltuma to 857.

Loisaba’s Clinical Health Officer, Kaltuma, distributing face masks made by the Chui Mamas.

 

Security

On the 4th of this month, Loisaba’s security and aircraft were involved in the recovery of cattle stolen from one of our neighbouring community members. The following message was left on our Facebook page regarding the mission:

“Loisaba Conservancy be blessed always. Today we witnessed a lot after Loisaba Conservancy assisted the community around after some cattle were stolen… the cattle (belonging to Lepiile) were today stolen by unknown rustlers. It was a bit tricky as the rustlers vanished to God-knows-where but wonders happened after Loisaba Conservancy intervened. Loisaba came in with an aircraft led by the most heroic security manager Daniel Yiankere. They followed the stolen cattle by plane and were able to locate and recover them. The community sends their joy for this kind of help and this is how neighbours should be treating each other always. This is not the first time this team has assisted the community as we have seen and received foodstuffs and other essential items from their generosity during this rough time that we are experiencing. Once again Loisaba Conservancy the community wishes to appreciate you for all that you have been doing for them.” – Lekimain Denis.

We were grateful to receive the message and were pleased that we were able to provide support to our neighbours.

Community members thanking the Loisaba team after the recovery of their cattle.

 

Photos of the Month

 

Most liked Instagram Post:

 

Most liked Facebook Post:

© Taro Croze

 

If you have any photos from your stay at Loisaba that you would like featuring on our social media, please email them stating how you would like it to be credited to Hannah at communications@loisaba.com!

 

By Hannah Campbell

World Giraffe Day is celebrated annually on June 21st in order to raise support and create awareness of the challenges giraffes face in the wild.

The population of reticulated giraffe, one of the most iconic mammals on the planet, has declined by over 50% over the past 30 years – from 36,000 to just around 15,000 today. Poaching, loss of habitat, and land degradation are all pushing the giraffe toward an ominously named “silent extinction.”

A reticulated giraffe at Loisaba. Photo © Ami Vitali.

In 2016, San Diego Zoo Global launched a collaborative community-lead conservation effort in northern Kenya to help save the reticulated giraffe species from extinction. Work is currently focused at two sites: Loisaba Conservancy and Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy, where giraffe conservation research and community engagement programmes are conducted by Twiga Walinzi (which means giraffe guards in Swahili). The Twiga Walinzi all come from the local community, and conduct all the field research to study giraffe.

We asked Symon Masiaine, the Twiga Walinzi Conservation Coordinator, to tell us more:

Symon Masiaine, Twiga Walinzi conservation Coordinator. © Ami Vitali.

 

What are the main challenges reticulated giraffes face in northern Kenya?

“One of the main challenges here in Kenya is loss of suitable habitat due to clearing of land for agriculture, tree cutting for firewood and building, and infrastructure development. In addition, giraffe are still poached for meat, bones (which are burnt and the ashes used as medicine) and their tails (used as fly swats and the hairs for bracelets). ”

 

What data are the Twiga Walinzi collecting?

“The Twiga Walinzi carry out photo monitoring, camera trap placement, giraffe satellite collaring, human dimension surveys, school education visits and community awareness and engagement.

“Photo monitoring is carried out in order to gather systematic geo-located images of giraffe that can assist us in identifying, counting and tracking giraffe movements. Placement of camera traps across our study types also contributes to this, with over 1 million images captured so far.

Camera trap photo. © SDZG.

“In order to explore the movements of giraffes further, solar-powered GPS tracking devices have been fitted to reticulated giraffes in the study area. This has given us insights into giraffe movements in the region and utilization of different areas and habitats, what factors cause giraffe to move and whether giraffes move over long distances or stay localised (read more here).

“The team also spends time with local community members and school children in order to understand more about their relationships and interactions with giraffes and other wildlife species, as well as to spread knowledge of important conservation topics and learn about the work of the Twiga Walinzi. Perceptions are documented with surveys in order to help us understand and assess any changes in attitudes and beliefs in the communities who share their space with giraffes over time.

Lexson Larpei (Twiga Walinzi) teaching local school children about giraffes.

 

Why are the Twiga Walinzi Important?

“The Twiga Walinzi are a team of 17 researchers who are leading the work on the ground with pastoralists and communities to spread awareness about giraffes and build support for the protection of the tallest animal on earth. It is scientifically proven that 95% of the 15,000 reticulated giraffes left in the wild live outside formal protected areas – largely on pastoral land. The Twiga Walinzi is important as it focuses work outside of protected areas where people live side by side with giraffes.”

Reticulated giraffes at Loisaba. Photo © Taro Croze.

 

How do you identify individuals?

“Giraffe are recognised using spot patterns on their skin. No two giraffes have the exact same spot pattern, just like no one else has your fingerprints. At Twiga Walinzi, we started identifying giraffe using the pattern manually with our eyes, but in 2019 a pattern recognition software was launched called GiraffeSpotter. The software uses advanced coat pattern recognition technology to recognise individual giraffes and creates a database of sightings. This innovative technology allows researchers, as well as citizen scientists, to monitor giraffe populations throughout Africa and track individual movements.”

Camera trap photo. © SDZG.

 

Tell us about your best experience in the field.

“It was a one of the community survey days in Koija group ranch, going from one village to the next to gather information about giraffes. We met with one mama who identified us by name and said hello to both me and Lexson (another Twiga Walinzi). She gave us seats and started preparing tea for us, and started talking about the great job we as a project are doing in the community. She explained how valuable it was that we hold regular meetings with the communities to update everyone on the project, and how she loved that we took the time to educate school students about the conservation of giraffe and other wildlife in the community. She went on to tell us that her son (year 6) teaches them about the species of giraffe that are found in Kenya, their adaptations to the environment and the food web in the African savanna. She asked us to continue to educate the children and the community about conservation because wildlife and pastoralists need to live side by side, and thanked us for the work we are doing. I was so thrilled by the story and I saw that we are making an impact in the community through the community engagement meetings and school clubs visits.”

 

What are the Twiga Walinzi doing for world giraffe day?

“We are spreading the following message to community members and students in northern Kenya:

  1. Be the voice for giraffe in the communities.
  2. Say no to giraffe poaching in your communities.
  3. Say no to giraffe trade and trafficking.
  4. Share the knowledge you learn to your friends, family members and community.
  5. Stand tall for the giraffe!

Happy World Giraffe Day 2020!

By Hannah Campbell

Loisaba Conservancy sits on the western edge of one of Kenya’s most important elephant movement corridors – connecting Loisaba to Samburu, 100 km to the north-east.

Elephants are extremely important to Kenya. Not only do they have significant roles in ecological dynamics, they are also highly charismatic and serve as a rallying point for conservation. Due to the fact that they require large areas of ecosystems to be conserved, protecting elephants also means protecting the hundreds of other endangered and vulnerable species that they share their space with.

© Loisaba Conservancy (Oryx Ltd.)

Elephants are particularly vulnerable to population decline due to their slow reproductive rate. Elephants do not reach sexual maturity (and therefore start to breed) until between 12 and 14 years of age and when they do conceive, the gestation period is almost 2 years (20 months) with the mother producing one calf at a time. The baby is then dependent on its mother for feeding for the next two to three years, and the mother does not typically have another calf until the previous one is around 4 years of age.

Compare this to a lion. Lions reach sexual maturity at two years old, and have a gestation period of 3.5 months which usually results in 2 – 5 cubs every two years. This means a single female lion cub can produce five more lions in two years (each of which can then produce a further five in two years etc.). For a single elephant to cause the birth of an additional five calves, it would take approximately 32 years.

This slow reproductive rate of elephants means that elephant calves are particularly important, which is a fact known by Loisaba’s security team – who will protect them at all costs.

So far this year, three elephant calves have been rescued by Loisaba’s security team and sent to Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in partnership with KWS and Tropic Air.

Longuro

On Saturday 18th April, our security team was called to the rescue of a baby elephant that had fallen into a well on a neighbouring property and attacked by hyenas, resulting in the loss of most of his trunk.

Our Loisaba rangers managed to free him from the well and transported him back to Loisaba, where he was flown to Reteti by Tropic Air. He is receiving the critical care that he needs and hopefully one day be released back into the wild.

He is doing remarkably well at Reteti, and has been named ‘Longuro’ – meaning ‘someone who has lost a limb’ in Samburu.

Longuro at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. Photo © Katie Rowe

 

Loteku

Just after sunset on the 30th May, one of the Loisaba rangers reported that a young elephant had been unable to keep up with its herd as they crossed the Ewaso Narok river that evening. The young calf had been swept downstream towards a waterfall, and was struggling to stay afloat. A team led by Loisaba’s security manager Daniel Yiankere were deployed to the river, where two rangers bravely jumped into the cold, raging river in order to pull him out.

Luckily he had no physical injuries, but he was weak and his herd was nowhere to be found. After consultation with KWS and Reteti, the decision was made to bring the calf to Loisaba Headquarters for the night where he was carefully monitored until morning when a Tropic Air plane arrived to transport him safely to Reteti. He is settling in well and has been named Loteku – meaning ‘the rescued one’.

Loketu at Loisaba Airstrip.

 

Sikampi

The day after Loketu was rescued from the river, another elephant calf was spotted alone. Estimated to be one year old, he was monitored by the Loisaba rangers for three days. It was reported that he had joined a group of elephants, but was then found alone again the following day. His condition seemed to be deteriorating – he was becoming malnourished and seemed to be blind in his left eye.

Sikampi settling in at Reteti. Photo © Katie Rowe

On the 3rd June, a vet from KWS assisted the Loisaba rangers in darting and transporting the calf to the Loisaba airstrip, where he was airlifted to Reteti elephant orphanage to join Loketu. He has already made new friends in the orphan herd and has been going out browsing with them.

Loisaba rangers wishing Sikampi a safe journey. © Loisaba Conservancy

 

In addition to these calves, Loisaba also aided in the rescue of a bull elephant in the neighbouring Nannapa Conservancy on the 16th of April – see photos and read more here.

If you would like to support these courageous rangers who work tirelessly to protect the wildlife at Loisaba, please donate today. Even a small donation will make a huge difference.

World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on 5 June since 1974; engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.

Loisaba Conservancy. Photo © silverless.co.uk

This year, the theme is biodiversity – the variety and variability of life on Earth. It is the most complex feature of our planet, and the most vital. Intricate webs of life and energy-flow link individual species to entire ecosystems, such as forests or coral reefs – which have made Earth habitable for billions of years. Recent events (such as the COVID-19 pandemic and locust invasions across east Africa) have demonstrated how delicate this web is, and how dependent we are on its stability.

“Time for Nature”

 

The human population has doubled in the last 50 years, and has already grown by 30 million people in 2020. This has put immense pressure on natures resources – from carbon use to grazing land – meaning it would take 1.6 earths to produce all the renewable resources we use. By damaging the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens (including coronaviruses) to spread. It’s time to think about nature, and protect biodiversity.

Loisaba Conservancy. Photo © silverless.co.uk

Not only do we provide security and protection for endangered species and critical wildlife habitat in order to protect biodiversity, Loisaba strives to have a minimal carbon footprint with initiatives such as the community cooker and our BioDigester.

We are also delighted to hear that Kenya has banned the use of single-use plastics in all protected areas as of today. This ban prohibits visitors from carrying plastic water bottles, disposable plates and cups, cutlery and straws into national parks, forests, beaches and conservation areas, with the aim of curbing the growing plastic pollution.

The Community Cooker in action – safely burning plastics and other waste material to generate fuel for cooking.

Unfortunately, due to the closure of Loisaba’s tourism properties as a result of COVID-19, our operating budget has been significantly reduced – with a forecasted $1 million lost in revenue from tourism and other areas of income that would usually contribute toward protecting the biodiversity of the Loisaba landscape.

If you would like to help us maintain zero poaching levels, keep our rangers on the ground, protect endangered species and support local communities, please donate today. Even a small donation will make a huge difference to Loisaba’s conservation and community development work.