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News and views from Tsavo Conservation Group (TsavoCon) in Kenya
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Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.


Last week, with great pride, Malkahalaku Community Conservancy’s first anti-poaching unit marched off the square, having completed their initial anti-poaching ranger training at the Kenya Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Academy.
It doesn’t seem like 3 months since we said goodbye to the 22 new recruits as they set out for their conservancy ranger training course, although no doubt these young men counted off each new challenge and each passing day towards their graduation.
Seeing them today, it’s hard to believe that many of these recruits had never before left their nomadic home range in the remote eastern flank of the greater Tsavo ecosystem; some had never ridden in a motor vehicle.
During their training they excelled themselves and have transformed into a smart, disciplined unit, ready to take on great responsibilities protecting their home communities and the wildlife with which they share their land.
Malkahalaku graduates passing out Manyani
It's been a team effort - here some of the 22 successful Malkahalaku Conservancy graduates, adorned with gifts of congratulation from their families, are seen with TsavoCon Operations Director, Ian Saunders, Tana River County Coordinator Mohamed Kamanya (both centre) and Transport Officer Elijah Mwangi, seated far right.
A delegation of community elders, photographed here with TsavoCon's Ian Saunders, had traveled from Malkahalaku to proudly attend the passing out parade and see their young men pass off the square - a first ever for their community.
The graduation was attended by a delegation of wazee (elders) who had traveled overnight from Malkahalaku Conservancy to celebrate this milestone and to congratulate the young men of their community on their momentous achievements. In front of the gathered crowds who had come from across the country in support of their own conservancy graduates, the Orma rangers from Malkahalaku and some of the Samburu rangers from northern Kenya performed traditional dances to celebrate their passing out.
The day before graduation, the Malkahalaku Conservancy recruits received their bronze beret badges, crafted in the shape of the Malkahalaku logo, which depicts a lion’s paw print superimposed on a bull’s head, denoting the potential for wildlife, including large predators, to coexist to mutual benefit with the Orma people, and with their all important cattle.
And so today, we congratulate these young men as they return home after successfully completing this phase of their training, in preparation for representing their community as Malkahalaku Conservancy anti-poaching rangers.
The Malkahalaku community has chosen a traditional Orma proverb as their Conservancy motto: ‘Egge sanga gabaa wo gaddan halagaat ijetii’, which literally means ‘if you follow the tail of a large bull, you will eventually find the good meat’. In other words, if you work steadily towards your goal, you will ultimately reap the reward. It is a wise choice of motto, for the benefits of the Conservancy will build and increase with time. Neither the Conservancy members nor the TsavoCon stewardship team working alongside them are pretending that the development and ongoing management of this expansive Conservancy in such a wild and remote place are quick or easy tasks but all are agreed these are goals worth pursuing.

Moving ahead at Malkahalaku - the next step

As the graduates return home, so too starts construction of their Field Operations Base, which will replace the current tented Field HQ at Malkahalaku Conservancy, providing more permanent facilities from which all community development and wildlife security operations will be planned, launched and coordinated.

Read more about Malkahalaku Community Conservancy on our website

Bitter sweet burn

Here lie the tusks of over 10,000 elephants, set to go up in smoke tomorrow
Tomorrow, the teeth of over 10,000 elephants will go up in smoke, as 105 tonnes of ivory and over a ton of rhino horn are burned in Kenya, sending a clear message to the world that the people of this country reject the illegal wildlife trade. But this big day attended by celebrities from around the world is no cause for celebration or self-congratulation; on the contrary, these vast funeral pyres are a sombre and tragic indictment of humanity. At least the burn removes the possibility of these tusks and rhino horns falling into the wrong hands and further fuelling the illegal international trade. Not surprisingly, it’s a decision causing controversy, and indeed it raises some difficult questions, for which there are no perfect answers. But we believe that the burn is the best of an imperfect bunch of options.
 
To burn or not to burn? Read more on our website.

Stronger together

As a stewardship organization, TsavoCon works hand-in-hand with local landowners and communities coexisting with wildlife. By joining forces, collaborating with a range of stakeholders and helping to inject new expertise and resources where they are needed, we seek to build a foundation that supports both people and wildlife.
 
In Taita Taveta County, which lies in the heart of the greater Tsavo ecosystem, TsavoCon has entered into a formal partnership with the Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association, which represents the 23 Wildlife Conservancies currently registered in this region. The constituent members of these Conservancies understand that sustainable management of their natural resources is in their best interest, but many of them currently lack the financial and technical capacity to develop their Conservancies into effective, successful entities. By guiding these Conservancies in the deployment of our Stabilization through Conservation (StabilCon) approach, we seek to build the institutional capacity of the local rural land owners and tenants, with a view to developing and implementing a landscape-wide management plan, including coordinated wildlife security and human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures. This plan will align with existing and future KWS management plans for the Tsavo Conservation Area as a whole to ensure landscape-wide coordination and a better, more sustainable future for both people and wildlife.

The United States 'END Wildlife Trafficking' bill makes significant legislative progress

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a bill that would encourage the US federal government to expand its support for the fight against wildlife trafficking and work with foreign nations to reduce this growing scourge. Tsavo Conservation Group is proud to have worked with the teams of both Senator Flake and Senator Coons to offer advice during the drafting of this bill, particularly in regard to how the legislation can have a positive impact on the ground to enable effective change at the field level on the front line of counter-trafficking operations. TsavoCon applauds the Senate Committee for the passage of this important bill.

Read TsavoCon's Press Release

Tsavo – beyond elephants

In addition to its world-famous elephants (Tsavo hosts Kenya’s largest elephant population), Tsavo is host to a multitude of other equally fascinating wild animals and plants, including endangered and endemic species. Tsavo is home to an important population of large predators, including the cheetah, which is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the world’s most comprehensive information source on the global conservation status of animal, fungi and plant species. By focusing on landscape management and protection, TsavoCon is seeking not only to benefit people and the megafauna such as elephants, but also to safeguard biodiversity as a whole, including less celebrated (but no less important) animals and plants, not to mention the ecosystem services provided by a healthy natural environment, which are so necessary for all life.
Cheetah in Tsavo
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With warm wishes -
Tanya Saunders
Tanya Saunders
Executive Director  |  www.tsavocon.org
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TSAVO CONSERVATION GROUP works to secure wilderness areas in Kenya’s iconic Tsavo landscape and beyond, for the benefit of wildlife, habitat and people. We achieve this by implementing our 'Stabilization through Conservation' approach with a focus on innovation, partnership and stewardship.
TSAVO CONSERVATION GROUP is a US 501(c)(3) non-profit with its field headquarters in Tsavo, Kenya.

 
KENYA:
Tsavo Conservation Group, PO Box 101-90128, Mtito Andei, Kenya
USA:
c/o StrataPoint Financial, Attn: Stephanie Rick, PO Box 8962, Reston, VA 20195, USA
Copyright © 2016 TSAVO CONSERVATION GROUP, All rights reserved.


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