Currently in southern Kenya visiting more Born Free projects in and around the the Amboseli National Park. The park is located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and is home to 1,400 wild elephants!
First stop was to visit the legendary Cynthia Moss. Cynthia is an American conservationist, wildlife researcher and writer, who specializes in African elephant family structure, life cycle, and behaviour. She is director of the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, where she has studied the same population of elephants for over 40 years. Cynthia is Program Director and Trustee for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE).
This amazing project has been supported by Born Free from inception.
Our next visit was to see one of the 215 lion proof bomas that Born Free have constructed. This is yet another initiative that addresses human wildlife conflict. The construction of these Boma “fences” enable Masai communities to protect themselves and their livestock from lions and other predators. Many predators are hunted by avenging villagers when their livestock are killed. So, Bomas are mutually beneficial to both lion conservation and human preservation. Each Boma costs £1,400 and they have proved to be incredibly effective. So much so, that they are now in great demand and the Masai people themselves are becoming ambassadors and promoters of the project. Born Free also ensure buy in and ownership and communities now contribute financially and physically towards the build and maintenance of the Boma’s.
At one of the Masai villages we visited, the men had all left the village with their cattle to find food and water for them. Whilst there we discovered 3 young cows that had been left behind by the men as they are too thin & too weak to make the journey. A fourth cow had already died and was being eaten by village dogs. 😱😰
Its so dry here, there is simply no food or water left for the young cows. Everyone very very desperate for the rains to start. Two of the baby cows were lying flat on the ground completely ‘finished’ they didn’t even have the energy to open their eyes.
Will Travers and I were holding their heads in our laps trying to comfort them as we both agreed they were about to die any minute.
It’s at this moment the ‘Suzie Ma Twe Twe’ (my sister) comes out in me and the ‘Virginia McKenna’ comes out in Will. We round up all the kids in the village and send them out looking for any green grass they can find… the kids all scatter on a grass finding mission and believe me there isn’t a lot of green stuff anywhere. We then get the village to load all there water bottles (20 litre) containers into the Born Free Land Rover and Martin from Born Free goes with some of the woman to find water whilst we comfort the cows. 😥😰😒😔😰😔😰.
The kids return with bits of grass and we start hand feeding the cows in our laps as they are so weak, we also had to break up the grass into small chunks as they had very little energy to chew.
The water then arrives so we are pouring water into their mouths. They both start to respond by eating and drinking but very slowly. We then round up everyone and carry one of the cows into the shade to get it out of the hot sun. After much love and attention and stroking their heads and faces, with the help of everyone get them to stand up.
They continue to eat and drink a little at a time. Then we start thinking ahead and ask someone where we can buy some quality hay so they can eat properly until the rains come. We are told the nearest hay is 100kms away but they have no money to buy it or means to transport it. After a few calls we manage to get a guy on a motorbike to agree to go ride 100kms each way and buy and collect 2 bales of hay. We left the 3 cows in the village now standing and looking a little better but they are by no means out of the dark. We followed up later to see how they were doing… two of them made it but sadly the little back one died.
So so Sad 😰😥😰😰😰😰😰😰
Animal Compassion 🐂🐐🐘🐕🐂🐐🐘
In my travels I have come across many wildlife issues but also issues relating to general animal welfare. This is something we, OAT, would like to address in the future, particularly on the education front. This wasn’t the original plan, but we feel if we can get people to be compassionate with their domestic animals then we may have a better chance of gaining their sympathy for wildlife. Also, happy healthy cows, goats, donkeys etc will mean better productivity for the owners.
Welfare of working dogs in conservation is something else we have stumbled on….watch this space on this subject! Sue is already planning to upgrade the facility of two working dogs we have come across within a Rhino Sanctuary!
The list in Africa is endless!!!!!!