The buffalo thundered past Big Life ranger Ntekeyo Katanki, throwing him clean off his feet. Weighing up to 2000 pounds, the force behind one of these full-grown animals is extreme, and Katanki was left with a debilitating back injury. Local hospitals couldn’t solve the problem, but he refused to take time off, such is his commitment to protecting the animals of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. Eventually Big Life sent him to a private facility in Tanzania that was able to treat the injury.
However, the buffalo experience only seemed to motivate Katanki further, and Big Life wasted no time in selecting him as the Sergeant of our newest ranger outpost. Funded by steadfast partners, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), this unit is located in the vitally important Kitenden corridor that connects Amboseli National Park with Kilimanjaro and our Tanzania areas of operation. This is an area with high rates of human-wildlife conflict. Predators kill livestock, and elephants destroy crops. All of this costs people money, and wild animals are killed for revenge, and to stop the animal from causing more damage. Through April, Katanki and his team of new recruits responded to five such incidents of human wildlife conflict (two involving lions, one involving buffalo and two involving elephants). Had they not been there, then spears may have decided the outcome, and dead animals been the result. Katanki has been with Big Life since the start. Since joining Big Life, he has been involved in the arrest of two notorious elephant poachers, and in both cases the ivory was recovered and used as evidence. Who knows how many more elephants would have died had Katanki not brought these poachers to book. Katanki’s passion for what he does has driven him and his team to become one of our most effective units protecting wildlife. He is an inspiration to others, and it is for this dedication that he earns the title of ranger of the month for April. As an aside, you will see that he is also the ranger at the front of Nick Brandt’s photo - Line of Rangers with the Tusks of Elephants Killed at the Hands of Man, Amboseli, 2011.