When it rains, it pours. And sometimes, literally. We had more rain the first half of 2018 than we’ve seen in the last two years combined. The impact has been dramatic across the entire ecosystem. Initially, it was devastating – taking out roads, separating families, and drowning humans and wildlife alike. However, the abundance of water and associated strong recovery of pasture has created an ecosystem of plenty. In a place where so many battles are fought over natural resources, this has led to a degree of peace and quiet, particularly on the human-elephant conflict front.
In the second quarter, we had zero confirmed elephant deaths from either poaching or human-elephant conflict. There were also zero cases of elephants injured by humans, because there were no cases in which elephants were hunted in retaliation for damages. And despite regular patrolling, no snares were found.
We would have preferred some zeroes in our statistics on wildlife crime. However, we arrested 26 suspects for possession of illegal wildlife trophies, and in doing so confiscated 237 kg of ivory in different areas of Kenya. That ivory will never see the black market, and we’re grateful for the help of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other partners and informers in accomplishing this.
Frequent training is critical to keep rangers’ skills fresh and relevant in a dynamic conservation environment. Our rangers will be even more skilled moving forward, as we worked with partners to launch the Amboseli Conservation Academy during the second quarter. The Academy will provide advanced and refresher courses to supplement the training received by rangers at the KWS Manyani training school, and in the future, we hope to see the number and scope of courses grow to include a wide range of topics and audiences.
The Big Life rangers have a lot of animals to protect, but there is one in particular that stands out: a new baby Eastern black rhino. This is a huge milestone in our rhino protection work, all done in close partnership with KWS. At such a low number, the population is still highly vulnerable, and Big Life rangers are working to keep every single individual safe from harm.
As always, the community remains top of mind in all that we do. For one thing, we’ve taken on the implementation of mobile health clinics in one part of the ecosystem, and would love to expand this further with time. It’s hard to be positive about wildlife conservation when you’re battling to meet the basic needs of your family, and we hope that these clinics will contribute to a happier, healthier community. The response has been positive. Two of these clinics in the second quarter reached 527 patients, providing medical and family planning services, and administering deworming medication to over 1,100 children.
All of these results are thanks to our supporters – both our local partners in the field and our donors around the globe. THANK YOU.
Director of Operations, Big Life Kenya