In 2010, Ewaso Lions launched Warrior Watch, which protects lions by engaging Samburu warriors, a group traditionally neglected in conservation decision-making. Warrior Watch makes warriors ambassadors for lions within their communities, while raising awareness about conservation and advocating for peaceful co-existence with lions and wildlife. The program builds on warriors’ traditional protection role by increasing their ability to mitigate human-carnivore conflict. The warriors serve as a network working across multiple communities, enabling us to monitor threatened species and record conflict incidents over a wide-ranging area. Ewaso Lions works with local community leaders to select Warriors and train them in wildlife ecology, conservation, human–wildlife conflict transformation, security issues, and more. Over time, Warriors are trained to collect data and use GPS, allowing us to map wildlife presence and movements – Following lion attacks on livestock, Warriors encourage herders not to take retaliatory action and help recover lost livestock. Warriors investigate problem animals and consider different solutions for reducing future livestock attacks. Warriors promote conservation and tolerance of carnivores at the community level by facilitating dialog about conflict and conservation. Each week, the Warriors meet as a group with Ewaso Lions staff to report on wildlife sightings, incidents of human-wildlife conflict, community awareness meetings, and livestock issues. In turn, Warriors receive educational lessons in English and Kiswahili and arithmetic, as well as a small monthly food stipend and meals during the weekly meetings.
In the 1970’s there were elephant, black rhino and Grevy zebra in abundance throughout the vast northern frontier district of Kenya. In 1977, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda announced a ban on all forms of game hunting and as the hunting parties withdrew, so the lawless bandits from Somalia moved in. By 1984 there were no rhino left in the Mathews range of Kenya. Elephant numbers had dwindled to a few scattered herds running from thicket to thicket in fear of their lives, and the beautiful Grevy zebra had been eliminated; more than 30,000 animals poached in just eight years. It was uncertain whether any black rhinos would survive in Kenya. Poaching for horn had reduced Kenya’s rhinos from some 20,000 in the mid-1970s to a few hundred by 1986.
Also known as the Lenkiyio Hills this area is isolated, and holds forests of juniper and cycads. It is still thankfully home to elephants and other large mammals, and was one of the last places in northern Kenya to offer shelter to wild Black Rhinos. The Mathew’s are also home to the Samburu people. The mountain range is a sky island, surrounded by plains, with Ndoto Mountains to the north and the Karisia hills to the west. Sky islands are isolated mountains surrounded by radically different lowland environments. Such isolation has significant implications for these natural habitats. A number of the species in the Mathew’s have evolved independently and the diversity of the high altitude forest is of great conservation value.
I’m indebted to Jeremy and Katie from Sara Camp for flying me round these mountains well before the sun was up on several occasions – I’ll be working in this incredible part of the world for the next few weeks
I’m delighted to be supporting and contributing work to this feed. This is an exciting development for the feed and brings the message about the global biodiversity extinction crisis to the publication’s substantial audience. Increasing dialogue in the mainstream media about this issue was one of our initial goals and we’re starting to make headway in this area. Thanks, as ever, to all the contributors and supporters who are making this a success, but most of all to Sean Gallagher who’s selfless work and dedication has got us to this point. Everyday Extinction features the work from 25 wildlife photographers, photojournalists and scientists, we aim to highlight species extinction and celebrate this wonderful planets biodiversity.
The image here shows a member of Lewa Conservancies specialist anti poaching team standing guard over a black rhino killed moments earlier by poachers, and is continued work from the project ‘with butterflies and warriors’ – Due to the extremely fast response of the security teams, the poachers fled the scene without recovering the rhino’s horn. The threat from poaching has put rhino populations across the continent under immense pressure. For conservancies, national and private reserves that hold any rhino, the key to ensuring the survival of their populations, and in effect the species, is the provision of adequate security. Since this incident in 2013 the conservancy has not lost a single rhino to poaching. Lewa’s success in rhino conservation can greatly be attributed to the efficiency, discipline and timely intervention of its security teams – in 2014, a record 1,215 rhinos were slaughtered for their horns in South Africa – and at the same time, 42 poachers were killed by rangers and police. This bloody conflict is fueled by the mistaken belief in Asia that rhino horn cures cancer, and it’s growing more intense every year.
Please follow the feed @everydayextinction – extinction is forever – here’s a link to the gallery on the Guardian site – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2018/feb/07/instagram-feed-shows-everyday-extinction-in-pictures
They scare me to absolute death, and I love them to bits in equal measure. There is nothing that frightens me as much as that close proximity deep growl, particularly when in a tent at night.
I’ve tracked them, documented the capture of them, relocated them, seen them trapped and tortured, and watched hunters hold them aloft. We pretty much can’t fence them, or defend ourselves from them. They are wild, truly wild and I love them.
So amazing to have the opportunity to work with the extraordinary group of humans who are the National Geographic Explorers. It was the most incredible experience teaching this weekend and more importantly also learning so much from them. Great hope for the future, some really incredible work here.
Big shout out to all at National Geographic, and all the amazing staff working on this.
I’m just returning from the National Geographic Photo Seminar in the US. This was an extraordinary week of talks and presentations. When poaching has escalated exponentially in the past decade; more than 7,000 rhinos have been killed in the past ten years alone, and The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 20,00 to 30,000 African elephants are killed each year for their tusks. Then it’s at times like these that I realise how important all the work done on this subject is, and how humbled I am by the continued support and mentor-ship received from all those I work with at National Geographic, and elsewhere. We can not, and should not turn away.
Thank you all for sharing your amazing work and thoughts this week.