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We are excited to announce that we have a new addition to Loisaba’s Mammal List; the desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus)!

The desert warthog is one of Africa’s least studied and most poorly-known large mammals. Although described in 1766, confusion concerning its taxonomy resulted in the recognition of only one species of warthog, the common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus).

‘Rediscovered’ in 1991, the desert warthog differs most noticeably from the common warthog in its warts (hook-shaped rather than cone-shaped) and ears (bent back at the tip rather than erect; see below).

How to most readily differentiate the desert warthog (right) from the common warthog (left) in the field. 1) Warts: adult desert warthog has a hook-shaped wart under the eye, adult common warthog has a cone-shaped wart under the eye. 2) Ears: ear tips of a desert warthog are bend backwards, ear tips of common warthog are erect. 3) Suborbital area: suborbital area (under the eye) appears swollen in adult desert warthog, absent in common warthog. 4) Head: head of desert warthog is ‘egg-shaped’ when viewed from the front, head of common warthog is slightly ‘diablo-shaped’ when viewed from the front. © Yvonne de Jong & Tom Butynski

Previously, a subspecies of the desert warthog (the cape warthog, P.a. aethiopicus) was found in South Africa, but became extinct in the 1870s. This is thought to be due to disease, hunting, human-caused habitat change, and/or competition with livestock.

Now found only in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, the distribution, abundance, ecology, behaviour and conservation status of the desert warthog remain poorly known. A better understanding is not only of considerable scientific interest, it is important to the development of effective conservation and management plans for this species.

Although listed as ‘Least Concern’, there are large areas in Kenya where the desert warthog is naturally absent or at very low density. During dry periods, there are few sources of drinking water and plant productivity is low – meaning higher competition between livestock and wildlife for forage and water. Many protected areas within the range of the desert warthog experience high livestock densities during the dry seasons, and are affected by insecurity and poaching.

In February 2021, Yvonne de Jong and Tom Butynski visited Loisaba as part of their study of the distribution and conservation status of the desert warthog in Kenya and Horn of Africa. During their two-day visit they obtained the first record for desert warthog at Loisaba (the 4th location in Laikipia, along with Lekurruki Conservancy, Il’Ngwesi Conservancy, and Suyian Ranch). “Loisaba has at least one sounder of four (2 adult females and 2 subadult females) and possibly a sounder of both desert warthogs and common warthogs”. Thanks to our carefully managed cattle grazing programmes and excellent security (0 poaching incidences at Loisaba since 2017), we are proud to be able to provide safe habitat for the desert warthog.

Yvonne and Tom’s updated desert warthog distribution map is completed and ready to be published. There are still, however, many questions that remain unanswered: Does the desert warthog interbreed with the common warthog? Did this species only recently arrive in Laikipia? Where else is it found in Laikipia?

Common warthog at Loisaba © De Jong & Butynski

 

How You Can Help

Have you seen desert warthog in Kenya? To help answer some of these questions, and to better understand the distribution of desert warthogs, details and a photograph of your encounter would be highly appreciated. The following information is most helpful:

  • Date of sighting
  • Name of nearest village or town
  • Latitude and longitude
  • Elevation
  • Habitat

Please send the details and image of your sighting to [email protected] or [email protected].

By Hannah Campbell

World Snake Day is celebrated every year on the 16th of July in order to create awareness of  their importance in the ecosystem, and to spread positive messages about this often hated reptile.

Snakes are threatened by habitat loss, climate change and disease, but their biggest threat remains negative attitudes towards snakes. Often perceived as animals to be feared of hated, efforts to address their conservation concerns are often impeded.

 

Spotted Bush Snake. Photo © Taro Croze.

 

Northern Kenya is a hotspot for conflict between people and snakes, where they are perceived as dangerous and unimportant to the ecosystem, meaning they are often killed when sighted. Although some snakes in Kenya are venomous, they all play an important role in the food web and their conservation should be promoted.

Letoluai Ambrose, who works at Loisaba for the SDZG Leopard Conservation Program, is passionate about the conservation of all species and believes it is highly important to teach people, especially children, the importance of species conservation – including snakes.

 

Northern Stripe-Bellied Sand Snakes. Photo © Ambrose Letoluai.

 

Earlier this month, Ambrose spotted two northern stripe-bellied sand snakes (Pasmmophos sudanesis) mating in his village. “The Samburu community of northern Kenya believe that snakes and man are ‘Raato Twins’ – meaning every twin born has a unique relationship with snakes” he tells us. “Sighting mating snakes is not only a momentous time, but also sacred to the Samburu/Maa community”.

 

Ambrose took the opportunity to teach children in the area about snakes and their role in the ecosystem.

 

Ambrose has also set up a wildlife kids program with Kennedy Lenauyia (Save the Elephants) in order to educate school children on the importance of wildlife conservation, including snakes. One of the best ways to protect snakes and their important role in the ecosystem is to take steps to avoid conflict wherever possible.

 

Steps to Avoid Snake Conflict:

  • If you see a snake, move away slowly
  • Never follow, try to catch, or kill a snake
  • Always wear shoes or boots and watch where you step
  • Use a stick to explore areas (such as holes in the ground, hollow logs or bushes) before using your hands
  • Keep food and water in your home in sealed containers to discourage snakes from coming inside
  • Keep inside areas rodent free by clearing food scraps
  • Keep wood piles a safe distance from the house
  • Keep the area around your house free from garbage, stacked items and long grass

 

 

By Max Silvester

On the 25th of June our ranger team, having sighted a large bull elephant with an obvious limp, began a monitoring and surveillance operation. When it became apparent that the bull’s injury and obvious discomfort was not subsiding any time soon, the call was made for further action – a KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) vet team was brought in with the aim of darting the pachyderm, examining the wound, and administrating the appropriate medicine – no mean feat!

 

 

This huge elephant (a fully mature bull) luckily dropped to the ground in a manner that allowed for the vet team to get to work on the obviously swollen front left foot. Had the elephant fallen awkwardly, it would have been a huge uphill battle to move him. Even the usual method using four-wheel drive cars and ropes would have struggled to shift his immense mass.

 

 

It became obvious that the wound was caused by a bullet which had entered the foot having grazed the trunk. This shot could have been fired in one of the regions where human wildlife conflict continues to plague both wildlife and human populations alike. Another theory advocates that this wound is the result of a botched poaching attempt, which aligns with the fact this individual elephant was sporting huge tusks by modern Laikipia’s standards, estimated to weigh up to 40 kg. Luckily the intelligence of this bull, in moving quickly to a place of safety Loisaba Conservancy, allowed the rangers and the vet team to assure his wound was treated successfully and he continues to roam Laikipia as a testament to his forefathers, the huge tuskers before him.

 

 

Meanwhile our ranger team (with a few remaining to monitor the elephant) rushed off to treat a giraffe with a split hoof, showing that as the world limps out of lockdowns induced by the virus, wildlife operations continue regardless – full steam ahead.

If you would like to help us maintain zero poaching levels, keep our rangers on the ground, protect endangered species and support local communities who have no access to healthcare, please donate today. Even a small donation will make a huge difference to Loisaba’s conservation and community development work.

 

 

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 [email protected]!

 

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!

Conservation & Wildlife Security

Elephant Calf Rescue

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 Elephant Sanctuary by Tropic Air. Here he will receive 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

 

Giraffe Rescue

On Friday 24th April, Loisaba’s rangers spotted an adult reticulated giraffe that had a snare caught around his leg. In partnership with KWS, the giraffe was darted and the snare removed successfully.

 

KWS vet waiting for the giraffe to recover from the anesthetic after successful removal of the snare.

 

Community

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are continuing to support our local communities. On the 29th, a Health Outreach clinic was held at a neighbouring town with little access to healthcare – where 110 patients were 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.

Our Clinical Health Officer, Kaltuma, attending to patients at Morijo.

Due to the virus, many people have lost their jobs and are struggling to feed their families. This month, we were able to donate food supplies to 200 households in our neighbouring communities. If you would like to help us support local communities, please donate today. Even a small amount will go a long way!

We have also donated USD 7,500 to the Laikipia County “Komesha Corona” (Put an End to Corona) Emergency Fund. This government led initiative is helping to deliver food packages to the families in Laikipia who are struggling with loss of employment and high food prices.

Many thanks to our partners and donors who have enabled us to continue community support.

Koija community receiving food supplies.

 

Photos of the Month

Most liked Instagram Photo:

© Murad Habib

Most liked Facebook Photo:

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 [email protected]!

 

By Hannah Campbell

Lions are a critical part of the African ecosystem, keeping herbivore numbers under control. If the herbivore population is not regulated, the increase of competition among them could cause some to go extinct, and reduce biodiversity. They also play a part in keeping herds healthy and strong by preying on the weakest members. Lions also effect the behaviour of prey species that in turn change the spatial pressure on plants, which can influence other species and even water systems – known as a trophic cascade.

Lioness after a successful hunt. © Phil Carter.

Unfortunately, lions are in trouble. The ever increasing human population both threatens lion habitat and means lions are continuously pushed into closer contact with people, which increases the risk of human-wildlife conflict and the killing of lions in relation for killing livestock.

Lion Landscapes, Loisaba Conservancy, and TNC Africa are working with communities to reduce conflict between humans and lions by protecting livestock from attacks by lions and protecting lions from attacks by people. © Ami Vitali.

Our partner, Lion Landscapes, is working towards mitigating human-lion conflict by collaring lions in partnership with KWS. Specialised lion GPS collars are deployed and managed in order to provide livestock owners with real time lion movement data via a mobile app, developed by Save The Elephants. This is part of on-going research into how lions use human-dominated landscapes at different stages of their lives, and helps people keep their livestock away from lions or increase vigilance and guarding effort when lions are nearby. Collars also show when lions move into areas where risk of conflict is high, which gives Lion Rangers a chance to act quickly to prevent livestock form being attacked by lions and resulting retaliation. Altogether, information from collars reduces attacks on livestock and retaliatory killing of lions.

Loisaba’s Lion Rangers ready to respond to any incidences of human-wildlife conflict. © Ami Vitali.

 

Not all lions are collared, so how does Lion Landscapes choose which to collar?

There are three main reasons a particular lion is collared:

1. Monitoring Prides

Lions are unusual in that they are the only social cat. They live in groups known as prides that consist of mothers, daughters, sisters and one or more adult breeding males, with the young males being pushed out when they reach sexual maturity to ensure species diversity.

Lion Landscapes aims to collar the oldest lioness in each distinct pride, in order to monitor the prides movements and inform livestock owners when they are close to particular bomas (corals where cattle are kept at night). The most mature female lion is likely to be the leader of the group, and is also the individual at most risk of getting to an age where she becomes a “problem” lion (see below).

Imara (left), collared at Loisaba on 19th December 2019 with a member of her pride. © Jim Koenigsaecker.

 

2. Monitoring Young Males

When young males leave their maternal prides, they are not yet strong or experienced enough to take on older males to win a pride of their own. While avoiding the territories of more experienced males, they are often pushed into areas with less prey and more people and livestock, meaning they are then at greater risk of being killed either to prevent livestock loss or in retaliation.

In January 2020, Lion Landscapes collared one of five young adult males here at Loisaba in order to monitor their progress, and to help out if they get themselves into trouble!

Felix (left), collared at Loisaba on 18th January 2020 with one of his brothers. © Hannah Campbell.

 

3. Monitoring “Problem” Lions

There are occasions when lions become problematic, and repeatedly target livestock rather than wild prey. These “problem” lions are usually older or weaker individuals that are less able to hunt for themselves. Livestock prove much easier prey than zebra or antelope when hunting alone, so these lions are in much more danger of being killed in retaliation.

These lions are collared in order for them to be directly monitored, and maps of their locations sent to livestock owners. This means livestock owners are always on high alert when the lion is near and ready to prevent livestock predation. Research suggests that if you make it hard for a lion to kill livestock, and their attempts repeatedly fail, then they are less likely to try again and can eventually give up hunting livestock in favour of wild prey.

Narok, collared at Loisaba in February 2018. Narok was originally collared to keep track of her prides movements, but now cannot keep up with the pride during hunts. This means she is at more risk of coming into conflict with humans, so her movements are closely monitored.  © Hannah Campbell.

 

If you would like to keep up to date with Lion Landscape’s work, follow them on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and subscribe to their newsletter!

 

 

 

 

By Hannah Campbell

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.”

To effectively help protect the reticulated giraffe, researchers must first understand how these towers of the savanna use their habitat. Over 100 motion-activated cameras have been installed both here at Loisaba Conservancy and at Namunyak Community Conservancy to the North East. A local team of Twiga Walinzi (which means Giraffe Guards in Swahili) is conducting field research to study and identify individual giraffes, while monitoring field cameras, engaging with local communities, and removing poachers’ snares from the conservancy sites.

During the course of a year, over 1,000,000 images are captured by these cameras! Although placed to monitor giraffes, they also photograph many different species, from warthogs to lions!

This means millions of photos need sorting through to classify what each shot has captured, which is where you can help! An online citizen science project called Wildwatch Kenya was set up to allow anyone from around the world to review and help classify the images.

Once these images are classified, and along with data from collared giraffes, researchers can identify specific areas that are favoured by giraffes and start to look into why they prefer certain habitats. This information is critical in order to provide better protection to those areas, as well providing insight on where to focus any community outreach to help reduce poaching where people may be living closer to giraffes. “The faster we can sort through these images, the faster we understand what is needing to protect reticulated giraffe in these areas” – Jenna Stacy-Dawes, San Diego Zoo Global.

Click here if you would like to help classify some of the camera trap images from the field!

By Hannah Campbell

For a long time, conservation had been a male dominated field. But things are changing. At Loisaba, we have been and continue to be intentional in ensuring female representation across all of our programmes. From security to community outreach, the ladies at Loisaba are shaping a better future for wildlife and people.

For International Woman’s Day this year, we are looking at looking at some of the stories of the women who are critical to our work…

Doreen Ongeri, Accountant

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

“I’m a strong lady and have come a long way. I have two daughters who are in school and I am proud that I pay their school fees single handily. I have made sure that they work hard and value money but will not limit them – they should be able to do whatever they want to do! I love working at Loisaba as it has enabled me to further my education, and has meant that I am working in a field that I trained in.”

Do you feel like women have disadvantages in Kenya?

“Today there are many women in high positions, and more girls are going to school. However, you still hear of issues of men wanting to take advantage of women in the workplace and many communities that still favour boys going to school over girls. The responsibility of taking care of children is also often left with the mother, so she has to now balance education and work with looking after a family.”

What are the problems that women face?

“Many families think that girls should not go to school, and therefore invest more in their son’s education. There are also expectations that there are certain jobs for men and for women such as housekeeping, teaching, nursing and secretary work, which often limits women. There are also some issues with young ladies getting pregnant too young and being expected to get married and look after the children, rather than furthering their education. I think there needs to be more investment in sexual education for children at school.”

What can women achieve if given the chance?

“A lot! Anything a man can do, so can a woman!”

What message would you like to send other women?

You should never be intimidated by anyone. The world has changed from thinking women should be housewives, make the most of it and do great things. You can be anyone you want to be, and soar heights!”

Milly Kwatoya, Loisaba Community Trust (Scholarships + Community Support)

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Milly and I am from Western Kenya. I currently work with Lori DeNooyer helping with the Loisaba Community Trust community outreach programme.”

How did you start to work at Loisaba?

“I started work at Loisaba in 2006 working in the shop. I worked there for six years before starting to help in the office with operations, accounts and reservations. While working in the office, I started working at Lorok Ltd. with Lori DeNooyer – helping with scholarships for children in the local area along with other community projects.”

How Important Is Education for girls?

“Education is the background of everything. Ever since I started at Loisaba, I have always been interested in meeting the girls in the communities and encouraging them to be excited about education so they have a better chance of getting a job. It’s very different to Western Kenya where education for girls is more common. It is very fulfilling to see the girls that have been through the Loisaba Community Trust scholarship program prosper!”

What are the problems that women face in communities around Loisaba?

“Women are often expected to stay in the households and therefore parents don’t see the need to send daughters to school, meaning they do not get the same opportunities as their brothers would. FGM is also still practised here – after the ceremony they are expected to get married and have children rather than stay in school.”

How is Loisaba Community Trust helping girls and women in the community?

“I am proud to say that more girls are attending secondary school with the help of our scholarships. We also run an anti-FGM programme where young girls and parents go through training to demonstrate the dangers of the practise, and offer an alternate rite of passage. We are also planning to organise a walk to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM and encourage more members of the community to attend our workshop and ceremony. We support women in the communities too with a beadwork programme, which helps to empower them by giving them a source of income. During my work in the communities, I have seen parents attitudes change towards both sending girls to school and to perceptions of FGM – which is huge job satisfaction!”

 What message would you like to send other women?

“Keep doing what you are doing, as long as you’re happy!” 

Noryn Nabira, HR and Accounts

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

“My name is Nabira and I am a Christian Luhya from Western Kenya. I studied Economics and History at university as I am good at maths and feel economics opens up many opportunities. I am now pursuing a post-graduate diploma in HR management.”

How did you start to work at Loisaba Conservancy?

“I started work at Loisaba in February 2018. I wanted to work here as I am passionate about conservation, and agree with the mission to protect and enhance critical wildlife diversity, abundance and habitat in the Loisaba landscape while supporting neighbouring communities.”

What are the problems that women face in communities? Have you had to overcome any of these?

“Many women are not educated, and therefore it is hard for them to have an income to sustain themselves. It has meant that women are much more depended on men. There are also many practises such as FGM whereby young girls are taken out of school to marry young which is a challenge. Where I am from in Western Kenya there are fewer issues and girls are encouraged to go to school. In the communities around Loisaba however, the community is still very much pastoral and the girls are expected to look after the households. The work Loisaba does in the communities with Anti-FGM and scholarships is extremely important for women!”

What message would you like to send other women?

“Women should embrace education. Perceptions are changing, people are moving and you need to make sure you don’t get left behind!”

Linet Akinyi Mukoma, Security Control Room

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

“My name is Linet and I come from Busia County in Western Kenya. I like traveling, especially to the beach. I love Diani – it is a good place to visit when you feel stressed as the atmosphere is so relaxing! I also have a son who is turning 8 in May. I would like my son to grow up knowing that women are not weak vessels. A woman is capable and strong, and he should not look down upon women.”

What is your role at Loisaba Conservancy?

“I am a radio operator – my work is to gather information from all over the conservancy concerning wildlife and security threats. I enjoy my work because it connects me to different people and I learn more about the wildlife. I am passionate about wildlife conservation, especially the work in partnership with Lion Landscapes in order to reduce retaliation killing of lions.”

What are the problems that women face in your community?

“Women in some communities are seen to be inferior to men – they don’t have speech. They are considered as weak vessels and their place is the kitchen. Women are not seen as independent.”

What can women achieve if given the chance?

“Women can achieve a lot! They can be leaders, they are capable of doing everything in careers, in education, even work in security like me which is usually considered a man’s job.”

What message would you like to send other women?

“I would like to tell other women to not look down on themselves. They should believe they can do anything and be independent!”

Susan Lentaam, Assistant Conservation Officer

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

“My name is Susan, I’m from Wamba (Samburu East) – a very remote area. I went to school in Isiolo which was 150km from my home. There were no roads so it used to take me 3 days to walk to school, starting at 9 years old. My father was very supportive of my education and ensured I went to school, even though it was sad my parents could not attend any of the parents days and end of term events due to the distance and the fact he could not leave his cattle.”

What is your role at Loisaba Conservancy?

“I work as the assistant conservation officer, focusing on SMART (our monitoring and reporting tool that our security rangers use) and Lion Monitoring in partnership with Lion Landscapes. The most interesting thing about my job has been learning about lion behaviour and how to identify individuals. This is done by taking photos of the whisker spots on each side of the face, as each lion has a unique pattern. Ear notches are also recorded as well as any other distinguishing features to help with the ID.”

What are the problems that women face in your community? Have you had to overcome any of these?

“There is often poor attendance of girls in schools due to early marriages and harmful cultural practises like FGM. There is also discrimination especially in jobs. People think that there are jobs that women are not supposed to do as they are thought of as weak. Sometimes people think women are not good at fieldwork, such as monitoring of lions, as it is tiring work. I want to prove those people that they are wrong and women can do many jobs! Luckily my father was very supportive, so the main problem I had was the distance from school. However, my uncles did not approve of my father’s decision to send me to school and said I should get married instead. My father said “you have to be strong and brave like a lion!” and I am very grateful to him.

What can women achieve if given the chance?

“Women can do a lot of things, even in leadership roles. If a women is given a chance to lead an organisation or community they can achieve a lot as they have the best interests of the people at heart.”

What message would you like to send other women?

Support others, and be brave like a lion!”

Kaltuma Dabaso, Clinical Health Officer

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

“My name is Kaltuma and I am from Isiolo county. I come from a humble background and have always been pushed to work for the better.”

How did you become involved with the clinic at Loisaba Conservancy?

“I have always loved to help people in need, and was excited by the chance to help the communities around Loisaba when the position became vacant. Loisaba has given me the opportunity to help people through outreaches and other projects. This brings a special joy being able to interact and improve peoples lives. Working at Loisaba has also helped me grow through trainings, using different ways to teach important messages to communities.”

How important is promoting women in society using the clinic?

“By helping with the community dispensary, community trainings and holding mobile outreach clinics, we have managed to positively impact women in need and bring changes such as stopping FGM, educating women and encouraging them to attend antenatal and postnatal clinics, providing family planning and improving women’s general health.”

What challenges have you witnessed for women in the communities around Loisaba?

“Early marriage and lack of women empowerment with men making most decisions regarding family planning and FGM. Health facilities are also often too far for them to access for services such as antenatal clinic and other medical services. Women also partake in strenuous activities such as carrying water, firewood and building manyattas during pregnancy which can be very risky to both mother and baby.”

What message would you like to send other women?

“They have power and strength to bring change in society. We have important roles in the family and communities!”

By Hannah Campbell

Conservation and Wildlife Security

Earlier this month, our Conservation Officer, Horris Wanyama, attended an Elephant Monitoring Training Workshop lead by Save The Elephants in order to standardise elephant identification and monitoring methods across the landscape.

Save The Elephants, who are based up in Samburu, also shared their existing database of identified elephants. This is helpful as some of the elephants that we see at Loisaba make the 100 km journey up to Sera in Samburu, and could be unnecessarily identified twice if it wasn’t for this shared database.

Horris has been working with the rest of the conservation department in order to add to the database of elephant ID’s at Loisaba, with 52 females and 44 males currently identified.

Map to show elephants known as Kimita and Sankata at Loisaba during October 2019. Map © Space for Giants

Map to show Kimita and Sankata traveling through Isiolo to Samburu from 4th – 12th November 2019. Map © Space for Giants

Map to show Kimita and Sankata in Samburu at the beginning of this year. Map © Space for Giants

 

Community

After the successful Baotree trial in November and December last year, Koija community benefitted from the installation of predator proof bomas to 15 households as well as a five day healthcare training workshop that covered prevention of disease, basic first aid, nutrition and health and the dangers of drug abuse. Read more about Baotree here.

A big thank you to Paul (Community Officer) and Lenguya (SDZG Leopard Conservation Program) for organising the deployment of the bomas and the Loisaba workshop team for building them, to Kaltuma (Clinical Health Officer) and Paul for organising and implementing the health care workshop and to Dimitri (Baotree founder) for making it possible.

Installation of a predator proof boma

 

Healthcare workshop

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Jillian Gann, we were also able to host two medical outreach clinics this month in Sagumai (8th Feb) and Morijo (22nd Feb), attending to a total of 192 patients. If you would like to contribute towards this critical healthcare for our local communities, help us reach our $10,000 goal for 2020 here.

Kaltuma and Jennifer treating patients at Morijo

 

Research

This month, our research team moved into their new offices! The team started with just two employees in 2017 on the SDZG Twiga Walinzi project. With the addition of the Leopard Conservation Program and four more employees, the team of six (along with their equipment) needed a larger working space for their research.

“On behalf of the entire team here, I would like to send a warm thank you to all. This is the best office ever with enough space for all of us, enough for all our equipment and the breeze outside is just so refreshing. The WiFi is also very good and we no longer need to use LAN cables. Thanks so much to Tom, Hannah, Richard, Gichuru, Njuguna and all that made the renovations happen.” – Symon Masiaine, Twiga Walinzi Conservation Coordinator

Symon Masiaine (Twiga Walinzi Conservation Coordinator)

Lexson (Twiga Walinzi), Anthony (Twiga Walinzi), Limo (Leopard Conservation Program) and Lenguya (Leopard Conservation Program) in their new office.

 

Photos of the Month

Most liked Instagram photo:

Marico Sunbird © Peter Ekidor

Most liked Facebook photo:

Leopard © 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 [email protected]!