I am now in Kenya and have spent the last week with my sister Sue (Founder of OAT), her husband Jonathan and Will Travers, President of The Born Free Foundation.
We spent a day at Born Free’s Kenyan office in Nairobi and then 5 days out in the Meru National Park with the Born Free Team on the ground and various members of KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service).
Needless to say Born Free are doing some amazing conservation work here, both in wildlife protection and other vital components of conservation such as community outreach and education. The following photos will give you an idea of the projects we visited and some of the “hands on” conservation work we were involved in.
The grave of Elsa, the Lioness from the Born Free Movie, featuring Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers who played the part of Joy & George Adamson (wildlife conservationists) in the 1960’s film.
George Adamson’s pool where George is said to have swam with the lions in the evenings…
Field Activities in Meru National Park-
We found 5 snares within the Meru National Park during our 90 minutes of de-snaring activity! These snares are set to trap animals for the illegal trade in bush meat. The snares are simple in design, metal wire usually taken from fencing, but unfortunately they are very effective. Trust me de-snaring is very hard work. Dense bush, very hot and somewhat dangerous considering there are elephants and predators around, not to mention the snakes…. We did however have an armed KWS guard with us.
Born Free carry out de-snaring patrols regularly each week.
This is very scientific, but basically, in order to protect lions you need to know how many you have in a given area and what their movements are. Together with a KWS lion specialist and the Born Free team we spent a few hours in the early morning looking for predator spoor (foot prints) and recording the findings. We didn’t find lion spoor that day but we did find leopard and other small predator spoor.
Another method to count lions is the Lion Call Back which we did one night. We stopped at a given point and played a recording of a buffalo being killed by lions, from speakers placed on top of the Land Rover. We repeated this 3 times at 5 minute intervals and waited for lions to respond which they can do from a 3km radius. That night three lions responded and came to where we were. We then recorded details of the sighting.
Both census methods are repeated regularly in definitive blocks within the park.
We visited the Rhino Sanctuary within Meru National Park and KWS updated us on the ongoing challenges they face. These Rhino are very well protected by a large team of rangers who “live” on site with the Rhino’s within their designated 2km square block.