Monthly Archives: January 2013

Going green: Purchasing and planting tree seedlings in Kenya

As part of Wildlife Works’ reforestation efforts, our greenhouse team regularly purchase and replant tree seedlings from around our project area in rural Kenya. The greenhouse staff travel to communities around our Wildlife Sanctuary in Rukinga to purchase the seedlings from local farmers at Ksh10 per plant, providing a source of income for some community members who can not find stable work.

The greenhouse at Wildlife Works

After the seedlings are purchased, they are kept at the Wildlife Works greenhouse, nourished and prepared for replanting. Once the seedlings are ready, the team distributes them for free to local schools, churches, environmental groups and individuals for planting.

On November 23, the greenhouse team hired a canter, which is a kind of cart used for hauling goods, to assist them in transporting the purchased plants. The team would need to buy at least 50,000 saplings in order to thoroughly distribute them to the community.

A young girl carrying seedlings to sell to the greenhouse

The first location the greenhouse team visited was Kasigau, where the staff visited the home of Mzee (meaning “elder”) Coller, a married man with three school-aged children. While his children attend boarding school, Coller and his wife live in a small, unfinished hut. Without a stable job providing them with money for upkeep or sustenance, the couple rely on growing seedlings for money which provides them with two meals per day and covers the school fees for their children.

Once the greenhouse team arrived on the farm, Coller directed them to where he kept his seedlings. The team members were surprised and thrilled to find over 2,000 tree seedlings at his greenhouse! Coller said he was very happy for what Wildlife Works does for the community, and with the money he earned Coller can finally finish building his house.

Mzee Coller at his small greenhouse

The team continued to travel to different local farms within Kasigau and purchased anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 seedlings from each.

Purchasing tree seedlings

Next the team traveled to the town of Marungu, where the greenhouse staff met a farmer named Gradon Mswahili who also relies on money from the seedling program for sustenance. Through the sale of tree seedlings, Mswahili said he can afford to educate his three children, who are currently in secondary school, up to a tertiary level. Mswahili sold 8,000 seedlings, the highest amount any farmer has sold to the greenhouse team, and says that he is overwhelmed by what Wildlife Works is doing.

Wildlife Works greenhouse team members packing seedlings onto a canter

The last location in the greenhouse teams travels was Sagalla, and after five long days of work the total number of seedlings collected was 57,500 with a 90% species diversity.

The money from the purchase of tree seedling will benefit community members who otherwise could not afford to pay their children’s school fees or provide sustenance for their families. The saplings themselves will go toward reforestation efforts in an attempt to reclaim the once vibrant ecosystem of rural Kenya. The greenhouse staff members are continuing to spread a little green around the community… in more way than one!

Health, Wealth and Happiness: Rukinga Sanctuary hosts a health and finance management seminar for employees

Living in rural Kenya can mean limited access to formal institutions such as hospitals and banks. The closest hospital to Rukinga is St. Joseph Shelter of Hope located in the town of Voi, along with the closest bank. With Voi several hours away, many staff members at the Wildlife Sanctuary are paid in cash and find it hard to save money for the future. The Sanctuary’s Human Resources Department decided to host a special seminar bringing in speakers to teach Wildlife Works staff members how to stay on top of their health and finances. The goal of the talk was to provide employees with the tools needed for success.

On November 7, Dr. Andrew from St. Joseph Shelter of Hope and the finance team from Kenya Commercial Bank visited the Wildlife Sanctuary in Rukinga to speak in front of employees. The KCB finance team taught employees about how banks can keep their money safe. They demonstrated how to open a bank account and answered audience members’ questions on money issues.

Dr. Andrew spoke about the causes, treatments and preventative measures for cancer, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The doctor took time to focus on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, which is common among married women in Kenya because it is sexually transmitted. The audience was shocked to hear that men can carry HPV without showing any signs and put women at risk. The doctor also gave information on detecting early symptoms and advised women to get annual pap tests and cervical cancer screenings. While there is no cure for HPV, there are treatment options if one discovers cancerous cells in an early stage.

Dr. Andrew also discussed the symptoms of breast cancer. He demonstrated to the audience how to do self examinations by lying face up and using one’s hand to test for any unusual lumps or pain in the breast. If pain is detected, doctors can test for cancer while still in an early stage. The treatment for breast cancer is a mastectomy, where the breast is removed and one can use an artificial breast in its place. The doctor emphasized that removing a breast is far better than losing one’s life at a tender young age.

Dr. Andrew also accepted questions from the audience on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

Rua from Wildlife Works thanked the two teams and all those who ensured that the day was a success. HR Manager Laurina Lenjo also expressed his gratitude to the speakers and audience members.

According to our in-the-field community reporter Rose, the seminar has been a great success! Staff members have opened bank accounts and are planning for the future. The workers are talking more openly about health issues and many of the women working at Wildlife Works’ Rukinga Sanctuary have gone in for cervical and breast cancer screenings. We wish everyone at Wildlife Works a healthy, prosperous new year!

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About Wildlife Works Carbon:

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

Tragedy strikes Rukinga Sanctuary

WARNING: The following blog post contains graphic photos of elephants killed by ivory poachers. View at your own discretion.

As the new year kicks off, we take a look back at the challenges and accomplishments of 2012. We were proud to start the year by building a nursery for Wildlife Works’ employees’ families, and thrilled to be partners with PUMA for their Creative Factory project. We welcomed our first female Wildlife rangers and happily received validation and verification for the first REDD+ project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The greatest challenge we face going into 2013 is the growing threat to wildlife from the increasingly violent ivory trade, and we can’t emphasize enough how great the risks are to the animals and those who protect them.

Wildlife Works has been protecting endangered wildlife at our sanctuary in South East Kenya between Tsavo East and West National Parks since 1997. The 1989 global ban on the African ivory trade had helped deter gunned poachers from setting foot on our sanctuary, but over the past year, we have witnessed an exponential increase in violence. Most of the armed poachers come over the Kenyan border from Somalia. The violence they bring upon the animals and the surrounding communities threatens our work toward the goal of a sustainable future where communities can grow economically alongside thriving wildlife.

“We’ve been working in Kenya for the past 17 years… We lost 10 elephants to ivory poachers in the first 15 years, and 45 in the last 18 months, and this is despite being a relatively well-funded organization with extraordinary relationships with the local community members who benefit from wildlife,” says Wildlife Works founder and CEO Mike Korchinsky.

Within the past year, one of our rangers was killed, another injured, and six elephants were recently stripped of their tusks and left for dead. This type of violence on protected land is unprecedented, and is a direct result of East Asia’s increasing demand for ivory that threatens the endangered African elephant now more than ever.

The most recent incident happened on October 28, 2012. Gunshots were heard coming from our Rukinga Sanctuary in the late afternoon. The Kenya Wildlife Service were alerted and immediately sealed off the scene of the crime. The incident had taken place as the sun was going down, so unfortunately there was little the rangers could do at that time.

On the following day Rob Dodson, our VP of Africa Operations, flew over the crime scene with one other ranger. While airborne, they spotted three elephant corpses lying on the ground.

They drove to the GPS location to find two elephants dead with tusks removed and one badly wounded but with tusks still attached. The rangers also spotted the tracks of a fourth elephant, which they found 800 meters away at Ziwa-nyoka Dam with a gunshot wound to the leg. The two wounded elephants were badly hurt, and the best option was to put them down humanely and save them from a slow and painful death.

Kenya Wildlife Service and tracker dogs were commissioned to follow the poachers’ tracks. While on the hunt, rangers discovered two more fresh elephant carcasses with tusks removed. Despite their many kills, it is likely that the poachers had gathered a low harvest in terms of tusk weight for their bosses. Many of the elephants were young, not even adults yet, and their tusks were visibly immature. The poachers must have been desperate for ivory to attack such young creatures.

The death of six elephants is six too many but all is not lost. Wildlife Works is currently protecting almost 2,500 elephants in and around the Kasigau Corridor and will do everything in our power to keep them safe. We are thankful for the efforts of Wildlife Works and KWS rangers, even when it means putting themselves in the line of fire.

This is a desperate time for the African elephant, but there is still hope. By working together, we can make a difference and create an environment where these endangered animals can flourish. We can provide sustainable jobs that provide the community with economic alternatives to killing wildlife and destroying forests for basic survival needs. We can support a balanced ecosystem where animals are worth much more alive than dead.

Mike Korchinsky adds, “In the end, as big a market as [the ivory trade] appears to be, it’s tiny in the context of international global markets and if the government wanted to stop it they could stop it, and stop the flow of money.”

You can help by not purchasing any items made with ivory, supporting other companies that are committed to protecting the biodiversity of our planet, signing the petition at, and signing the petition at launched by fellow elephant crusader Kuki Gallmann, who is boldly pleading for the end of producing items made from ivory.

The most effective thing you can do to help bring an end to the ivory trade is to write to your country’s representative at CITES ( National contacts and information can be found by clicking on the name of the relevant country at

Elephants are a world’s heritage.
Elephants belong to all humanity.
Elephants belong to you.
Do realize that: When the buying stops, so does the killing.
-Kuki Gallmann


Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.