Frenzy of fires wakes up the leaders of Matthews/Ndotos region…

I gather the fires burning in Kenya one week ago became world news… I have never seen any thing like it… We heard on the news that the Mau forest, and Mt Longonot, where burning and we witnessed the terrible fires on Mt Kenya… Too awful, and then I fly up to the Milgis and this is what we were greeted with… A complete frenzy of fires all over, from the Matthews right across to the Ndotos… This tends to happen at this time of the year, just before the rains..Its some how related to the fact that they think that the smoke makes clouds, and looking at the fire in the Ndotos it looks as though it could be possible! but NO rain to be seen!!

fires.JPG The beginning of a fire down on the Milgis Lugga.. Although it looks ferocious, luckily it burnt out before it did too much damage to the all important Tortilis trees, further up stream..

fire in the Milgis.JPG The same fire gaining momentum… the main trees to be burnt were Tamarix……. not so important as a food tree, although, the goats can feed on it when there is not much else, and the Elephants chew on the roots… The big advantage is the cover for hundreds of different animals… Bush pig, warthogs, civets, caracals, genets, mongooses… etc to name a few

Fire in the Ndotos.JPG Massive fire on the southern flank of Upe peak, of the Ndotos… Re burning an area that had a desperate fire a few years ago and I showed you the results of in my recent blog on the klipspringer being caught out… I’m afraid I also have to give the very sad news that it died after a month…

On the 25th March we flew up to the Milgis with two women representing VOSS, to hand over the ‘WATER’ to the Latakwen community… It was quite a party and will give you the news in my next Blog… Also present was Stella, who will be introducing herself to you soon! BUT the celebrations were marred by people burning the forests, an embarrassment to all… This led to the following meeting which is yet another attempt at stopping the slow ‘eating’ away of their recourses… You note I say THEIR… Yes these guys are cutting their own throats by burning, and yet they continue???? The Original Samburu fought long and hard to keep these mountains as their land, why are the men of today not respecting their ancestors who saw the value of them… Really what has happened…

As a result below is a report from Moses Lesoloyia… The Milgis Trust Manager..

The meeting took place on 31/3/2009 at Mpelengos. the meeting was attended by elders from Nkare Narok 12, Ngwe entome 23, Latakweny 23, Sererit 3.. Milgis Trust scouts 10, chief 1, councillor 1 and KWS rangers from Latakwen at the beginning..

The meeting was chaired by the councillor from the Ndoto ward who asked elders from each of these areas to talk and say what thoughts they have on the fires and whether they are willing to stop burning or should the burning continue??. Each group talked against burning and all agreed that they are ready to stop burning. the councillor asked the elders to tell what methods and punishments are there traditionally to deal with those who burn the forest. the following methods were mentioned;

1. cursing by elders

2. banishment from the area

3. fining

4. taking their wife away ( even if it is children or women all the blame goes to the man, he should have told them about it.)

5.being refused to graze in other areas.

The councillor asked the elders to decide on which methods to use to stop this menace. The elders agreed that one or more of the methods can be applied together. The elders said that because the people are becoming stubborn they will use cursing and fining. They will put a fine of 5000 and goats for the elders when they meet to discuss the perpetrators. The number of goats depend on the number of elders who meet. …18 men were identified to have burnt the forests and were to bring this money which will be used to pay bursary for school children. The councillor promised to present the issue during their full council meeting and bring councillors from Nkare narok and Nairimirimo. He will inform us of the dates so that we can organise for a meeting and the plan according to the situation by then.

The elders cursed whoever will burn the forests again and the message seems to have gone through as there has not been any fires except for one on Ndoto that evening and one at Ndonyo nasipa yesterday, maybe the message hadn’t reached them yet… We sent two scouts, grants Gazelle and lesser kudu to ndonyo nasipa to find out what happened.

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  1. paula
    Posted April 6, 2009 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Hi Helen, It is so sad reading this. I have had the privilege of spending a little time in the Tugen Hills where the local communities respect forests to such an extent that this is one of the few parts of Kenya where forests are not burning. Talking to them about the value they place on forests is a lesson that I think should be shared with all the other communities – it’s amazing how effective their traditional rules are.

  2. Cara
    Posted April 6, 2009 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Helen,

    Just to say I am reading your blogs and keeping up to date!
    So sorry about all the fires and really hope that somehow they get sorted out!
    I hope that Stella is enjoying it up in elkanto and enjoys working with the Trust!
    Love Cara

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] that ‘don’t forget us’, sort of talk, we went on to the most serious issue, the current fires being the most important one, we all sat under this tree, and each person that spoke ‘droned, […]

  2. […] below was burnt in 1999, and there is still no grass, after a record at least 10 inches of rain!.. So why do they burn.. It is a thing I will never understand, but there was very little burnt this year, and with the […]

  3. […] as elephants had been absent from the area for many years. The people were now turning to burning, to beable to get their livestock into the mountains, with devastating results. However, with the […]

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