The ups and downs of CARNIVORE conservation??

As ‘we speak’ I’m listening to the VHF radio full of never ending talk between 3 teams of our scouts and KWS who are busy following a wounded Elephant, shot at by poachers 3 days ago in a valley on the southern slopes of the Ndotos, and he has dragged himself down into the lower Milgis, into very thick bush and they now can’t find him.. Hes lost alot of blood, and hes lieing down often.. SAD, SAD.. As every one keeps saying.. The Elephant situation is serious, and its frightening.. ITS A NEVER ENDING BATTLE.. We know who the people are, but unless you catch them ‘red handed’, they just get let out to do it again.. and thats exactly whats just happened..

DSC05389.JPG The lonely tracks of a mother and calf running from danger..

Any way, while that all goes on on one side I have been watching in dismay another saga unfolding again, with our most beautiful carnivores..

IMG_0254.JPG picture taken below Lkanto.. mum and her cubs!

The ups and downs of conservation, with reference to these magnificent animals… In Europe / America, they were called vermin and ALL shot 100 or even 200 years ago.. Thank goodness most of our African friends didn’t behave like that.. They lived with them and accepted and used them.. Not sure about the early Europeans in Kenya??.. You read any book and they killed lions /leopards every other day on their ranches!.. .. Sadly that attitude also spread up here in the second half of last century the cats, wild dogs, Hyenas actually all animals were killed discriminatingly, grrrrrr, the modern world catching up …… I do wonder if ever again wild animals in this world will beable ‘to live and let live’, I suppose we are breeding too quickly, for that dream and soon there will be no space left for animals except behind wire fences.. Believe me its happening in front of our eyes in Kenya.. BUT up here since we started the Milgis Trust we are delighted to say that we are seeing an incredible increase in carnivores.. (and no fences!) We all know what they do when theres no wild animals left to eat.. They go for the peoples livestock which is not popular, but I am always so surprised how accommodating the pastoral people are.. Thank you to them.. and they deserve to reap the benefits! If I have a chance they will and are actually!

IMG_0102 2.JPG Dikdik

IMG_0109 sererit.JPG a fabulous specimen of a bush pig..

The issue that I am watching is food for these big meat eaters, and the reason why theres a problem.. Remembering that we live in a very dry area, where there was never the plains game that other areas of Kenya have, plus the fact that almost every thing was killed by any one and every one.. There is a time when many people told me ‘to forget Northern Kenya its finished’!! Luckily I didn’t but this problem, is now ‘our’ problem, the ‘Milgis’ Problem!

Its as simple as this.. Carnivores have many young in one go and Herbivores have 1 at a time.. plus the Carnivores pop em out much more often than there ‘food’ does.. Just compare these Aprox. gestation periods in days of Lion -110, leopard – 100, Caracal – 80 compared to lets say Buffaloe – 340, Lesser kudu – 220, Warthog -170, the tiny little Dikdik – 170 , these figures are amazing.. Sooo how does one win, in getting the wildlife to rebuild itself when starting again! This is after what I once wrote.( the despicable blanket poaching in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s.. Every one, and I mean ‘everyone’ KWS included for some reason joined the awful ‘band wagon’ of poaching the wildlife in Northern Kenya, in fact almost wiping it out ) The wildlife is coming back slowly but surely, but just watching down below Lkanto, the carnivore proliferation far exceeds the Herbivore proliferation..We, not just me, but all my Samburu friends here at Lkanto, are so happy to see the carnivores, we sit on the rock where these warriors are sitting for hours!! Sadly because their own success they don’t have alot to eat, they must wake up each evening with a hard nights work ahead of them.. But they are surviving and they look fabulous in the night photos we are getting!!.. But this issue is a ‘double edged sword’ really.. and I try to appease the communities not to kill them, when they kill their livestock, but sometimes one feels is an up hill battle.. and I don’t blame them.. When somebody steels money out your bank account, of course one reacts with vengeance.. A leopard tried to kill one of our camels the other day, the camel eventually died, and it hurt.. But I tell them that if they hadn’t killed all the carnivores food so readily before, this would not be the situation.. AND by the way THEY AGREE.. Maybe this is a reason they are so accommodating.. When I take tourists out on safari if we are lucky to see any of the special five of the carnivores we actually double the camping fees that the community gets.. This certainly helps, but only wish there was a simple answer

DSC04973.JPG The warriors very happy to see this lion.. Its a very long time since we’ve seen one below Lkanto, but reports on the radio are on the increase, so something is working!! The Milgis Lugga was famous for its lions in the good old days, but one day we found the gov’t vet in the area dishing out poison to kill the cats, and hyenas.. This guy has stopped now, although sadly they still do it when theres a rabies outbreak..

DSC04965.JPG Much excitement down below lkanto when this lion casually wandered out of the bush and had a drink, and then lay down!!

DSC04984-001.JPG Heres her tracks while she was drinking..

REMEMBER A SAMBURU CEREMONY CAN NOT TAKE PLACE IF THERE IS NO LION SKIN TO TIE ON THEIR LEGS.. !!!

IMG_0146.JPG This splendid lesser kudu bull, has managed to survive several visits of the hunting dogs, this leopard and her two cubs, all the Hyenas and the lion so far, but sadly I think his days are numbered..

IMG_0410.JPG

DSC05022.JPG A few days later, 8 am we had this extraordinary show of 8 very excited spotted Hyenas, rushing in all directions making alot of noise.. We sent some scouts to check on what was up, and found that they had been hassling a lion! To put it in the Samburu thinking.. They were telling the lion ‘to hurry up and find some food for them’.. Here they are on there way home having caused there chaos.. In all my years out here and walking throughout, I think I’ve ever only come across spotted Hyena twice in the day time!

DSC05462.JPG Sadly another addition to our orphans, this one is from Lake Bogoria, but we were asked to bring it up in a sensible way and release it here.. She is absolutely beautiful! Her name is ‘Mbaso’, meaning lake..

Luckily there are plenty of these IMG_0549-001.JPG

IMG_0603.JPG and these! If the carnivores can catch them..

After that depressing story heres something to brighten your day up.. Lodermurts different range of hats through out the month of may!! The sun rising to the south on the first picture and out to the north in the last one!

2.5.13 DSC04923.JPG

14.5.13 DSC04986.JPG

18.5.13 DSC05005.JPG

20.5.13 A hot day coming up??! DSC05011-001.JPG

27.5.13 DSC05027.JPG Lodermurt is the solid rock that we look at down the Milgis Valley.. Its 60 nautical miles away..

Bookmark and Share

One Comment

  1. Pirjo
    Posted July 13, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Helen, I always enjoy reading your blogs! I’ve been on holidays traveling across my home country Finland, but Africa, Kenya and in particular Ndoto mountains & Milgis Trust have been on my mind on a daily basis. I wish you all the strength in your mission to save wildlife in one of the most remote areas of Africa. You have all my support for the amazing job you & your team are doing.

Post a Comment

*
*
*