Monthly Archives: July 2013

Poachers Threaten More Than Just Our Wildlife

Not only are wildlife criminals heavily armed and extremely dangerous, the threat of violence from poachers is not limited to the slaughter of animals. Recently, the gruesome murder of a young man in Maungu Ranch has put an entire community on edge.

The body of motorcycle operator William Kiroka Mambo was discovered near the Maungu Ranch in June, 2013. According to one of the other boda boda (motorcycle) operators, “At around eleven o’clock on Thursday night, two people of Somali origin made a stop at the motorcycle stage where they requested a ride to their destination.” Reportedly, many of the boda boda operators were not eager to take up the men’s offer, but after hushed negotiations with one of the passengers Mr. Mambo, against the advice of his peers, agreed to taxi the two passengers to an undisclosed location along the power lines (roughly 1 kilometer from the motorcycle stage).

That was the last that was seen of him until he was discovered the following morning, with a bullet hole to the forehead.

The motivation for such a grisly murder is unknown, but residents can only speculate that during the drive, Mr. Mambo may have got word of some information that his passengers would have preferred to keep secret.

The murder comes in the midst of a government security operation to flush out nomadic livestock communities from the ranches in Taita-Taveta County. Most of the ranches in Taita-Taveta County form the major migratory routes for elephants and other wildlife moving across the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks. Over the past ten years, the ranches have attracted nomadic herders, most of who are of Somali origin, driving their livestock across the land. Kenya Wildlife Services and various security agencies have begun cracking down on poachers masquerading as herders to gain access to wildlife migrating across conservation land.

Concerns have also been raised over a possible connection between the herders and the poachers, with some residents alleging that the nomadic herders help to conceal the activities of the poachers. Our own Wildlife Works rangers have faced difficulty attempting to track the footprints of known poachers after the tracks have become mixed up with those of the herders, or obscured by the hoof prints of livestock.

The Kenyan government’s operation has created a volatile environment around our project area, and residents of the towns around the parks have been warned to be particularly careful and to avoid putting themselves in compromising situations. Recently, Wildlife Works’ Head Ranger Eric Sagwe led a security meeting with the police, Marungu Ward County Representative Paul Waweru Kang’ethe, the area’s administrative chief and Wildlife Works security representatives to discuss security concerns in the area and advise attendees on how to keep themselves safe.

During the meeting, it was brought up that wildlife poachers have been using some motorcycle operators as getaway channels. The tragic death of one of their own, coupled with the warnings and advice given at the security meeting, has served to reinforce the serious danger that boda boda operators may be putting themselves into by engaging in illegal activities.

We at Wildlife Works encourage our people to avoid risks, stay safe, and hope that the Kenyan government’s efforts will be effective in reducing violence for both people and wildlife alike.

Elizabeth Juma Mwamkono: Utilizing an Opportunity

Elizabeth Juma Mwamkono, a seamstress in our eco-factory, can attest that life needs to be faced with every ounce of courage that can be mustered. Born and raised in Taru, Mombasa County, Elizabeth has faced a number of challenges in her life.

Elizabeth said that while she was growing up, many of the young people in her neighborhood, faced with uncertain futures due to financial hurdles, turned to prostitution, drug abuse and violence. She was determined not to fall into these traps, and decided to focus her efforts on getting an education. Liz remembers being sent away from school frequently due to lack of funds, but even her prolonged absences from the classroom could not dim her hope of one day being a significant contributor to her society. If anything, Liz asserts, the absenteeism added to her determination to make something out of her life. She borrowed textbooks and notes from friends and neighbors, absorbing every detail in them.

The years of hard work finally paid off when Elizabeth sat for her O Level exams in 2002, and was named one of the top-performing students in her location! “I couldn’t believe it when I saw my [Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education] results,” Liz recalls jubilantly. “At last my hopes had been fanned. I was flying high. The world was all mine for the taking.”

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Unfortunately, financial restrictions forced Liz to attend a technical college rather than follow her dreams of academia. For two years, Liz studied as a machinist apprentice at the Mazeras NIT EPZ, where she learned sewing and many other skills. After completing her training Liz joined the great populace of Kenyans who are perpetually seeking for employment. Having worked so hard, she was determined not to be another statistic of unemployed youth.

Liz found work at two textile companies before joining Wildlife Works in May of 2006 as one of the pioneer employees of the Wildlife Works Apparel eco-factory within our Kasigau Corridor REDD+. She describes the pride she gets when watching western celebrities on TV and realizing that some of the clothes they wear have actually passed through her hands.

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She is also proud of being associated with the company that is doing much to protect the ecosystem, saying, “Working for a company that has the best interests of the ecosystem gives me a lot of pride and hope. I hope that my son can live in a healthy environment, free of pollutants.”

Liz’s work in the Wildlife Works eco-factory has taught her how to utilize self-drive to get things done, and has rid her of some of the financial worries that trounced her as she was growing up. We are proud to have such a dedicated person on our team.

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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.

Kenya Airways and Wildlife Works allow you to travel the world while protecting the environment

Kenya Airways has teamed up with Wildlife Works to allow passengers to offset the carbon emissions from every flight. To help spread the word, Kenya Airways has included Wildlife Works in their in-flight magazine. The following is extracted from the feature in Msafiri magazine:

 

Each time you travel with Kenya Airways, the airline gives you the option to offset the environmental cost of your flight simply by checking a box, and know that you can enjoy seeing the world and help to safeguard the future of the planet at the same time. Choosing to voluntarily offset the carbon emissions produced by your flight is a credible IATA (International Air Transport Association) approved way to take responsibility for unavoidable carbon emissions.

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How it works:

When you book your flight, the inbuilt IATA carbon calculator works out the level of emissions for the flight, based on real airline data, actual fuel burn and travel class, and taking into consideration the load factor, passenger weight and belly cargo for a given journey. Passengers can then voluntarily pay to offset their individual flight. If you’ve forgotten and want to offset your flight on landing, just visit www.climatecare.org.

The KQ offsetting programme was developed in conjuncture with IATA and climate and development experts ClimateCare. Together they ensure that payments made by passengers are directed to support initiatives that protect the environment and improve lives, in this case, a groundbreaking project in Kenya that protects threatened forests, provides a home to multiple species of endangered wildlife and uplifts an impoverished rural community.

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Left: Hannah, Kasigau Basket Weaving Group. Right: Women planting seedlings; Rangers at work; Three generations of elephants; Children at school, Women working in a textile factory.

“The Basket Weavers formed in 2004. Our objectives were to improve the livelihood of women and improve the education standards for our kids and families. We aim to generate money to buy food (the area is too dry to grow crops). We weave together and sell the baskets at local markets. We can now pay for our children’s education, which for women is amazing. Some of our children have even gone to secondary school.” – Hannah, Kasigau Basket Weaving Group

A Landmark Project:

The project was developed by Wildlife Works, the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) project development and management company, who take a unique approach to the conservation of forests and biodiversity. REDD+ is a United Nations-envisaged climate change mitigation initiative that aims to save the world’s threatened forests. In 2011 Wildlife Works’ landmark Kasigau Corridor project became the world’s first REDD+ project to be validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCB) and was awarded the additional distinction of Gold Level status by the CCB for exceptional biodiversity and climate benefits.

The World’s Lungs:

The importance of saving the world’s forests cannot be underestimated. Deforestation now accounts for around 20% of all emissions globally – more than the entire transport sector! Forests are vital to the world’s ecosystem, not only for the people who live in and around them, but also the global community. As well as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere forests support the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people, regulate weather patterns including rainfall, provide a home to over half of the earth’s biodiversity and are the origins of many essential medicines and foods. Given all of these factors, it is particularly worrying that forests are disappearing at a rate of 35 million acres per year, and as a result deforestation produces 7 billion tons of CO2 that go into the atmosphere, making deforestation a lead cause of global warming. The climate cannot be stabilized without protecting the world’s threatened forests.

Kenya Airways are very proud of their Voluntary Carbon Offset programme, because it allows customers to voluntarily support a crucially important local project, as well as mitigating the environmental impact of their flights. Located between Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, the Kasigau Corridor acts as a vital wildlife passageway for a fantastic diversity of over 50 species of large mammals, more than 300 species of birds and important populations of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List endangered and vulnerable species, including Grevy’s zebras, cheetahs, lions, African wild dogs and African elephants. The project protects over 500,000 acres of threatened forest and brings the benefits of the carbon credits bought by companies like KQ to more than 100,000 people in the local communities.

Photos clockwise from top: Chief Kizaka of Kasigau; Joel, Plot Sampling Team; Eric, Head Ranger; and Joseph, Wildlife Works Community Liaison Officer.

Photos clockwise from top: Chief Kizaka of Kasigau; Joel, Plot Sampling Team; Eric, Head Ranger; and Joseph, Wildlife Works Community Liaison Officer.

“REDD+ brings a positive change to our region with real and direct solutions for poverty alleviation that will uplift our community. This is not charity. Carbon money helps us meet basic needs and improve our lifestyle. The money is earned through conservation activities that afford us the ability to protect our environment.” – Chief Kizaka of Kasigau

“Our job benefits the whole world and leads to reduced emissions globally. We all benefit from protecting the environment. Our animals are protected and our health is improved because we can provide financially for our families. This project should set an example for the rest of the world. We want it to be copied globally and help future generations.” – Joel, Plot Sampling Team

“My aim of joining Wildlife Works was always to be in the bush, as I love trees, animals and conservation and wanted to protect my environment. My father inspired me to aim for this as he worked for the Kenya police. From the moment I knew about Wildlife Works I wanted to join. Now I have my dream job. I love what I do, even the many challenges.” – Eric, Head Ranger and Wildlife Works employee since 2002.

“In Africa, children are told from the start that school is fundamental to life, so you always push for it. We believe educaton is the only thing that can save families. Our parents put a lot of pressure on us to succeed and to be better, so that we can push our lives and our country forward. My parents truly made a lot of sacrifices for me to go to school, but their dream has always been for me to get an education with the end goal of getting a job. They paid for my primary and secondary school and now I pay for both my sisters’ university fees and mine with my job at Wildlife Works.” – Joseph, University student and Wildlife Works Community Liaison Officer.

A Long History in Kenya:

Wildlife Works is no stranger to Kenya, having first arrived over 17 years ago in this very community. Whilst on holiday in the area, founder Mike Korchinsky was shocked to see how local people were forced to destroy their environment to survive. Cattle had grazed the fields into dust and there was little incentive to combat the outside forces that came to kill the elephants for their ivory and slaughter other wildlife for the bush meat trade. 17 years ago it was rare to see any large mammals at all.

Mike witnessed the human-wildlife conflict and decided to dedicate his life to tackling this problem implementing some novel conservation ideas. The first and most vital was community engagement through the creation of wildlife-friendly jobs. This provides people with a viable economic alternative to destroying habitat for farming or killing wildlife for meat or money. With the communities’ support, Wildlife Works employed local people as rangers and forged a partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service to keep outsiders from killing the wildllife. The aim was to find a solution where local communities want to protect the environment because it works for them, hence the name Wildlife Works.

Job Creation:

The team started out by setting up a T-shirt factory in the heart of the project area. The eco-factory originally hired seven local women, but has grown to employ over 75 members of the community. The staff members are proud to produce beautiful garments under the Wildlife Works label, all carbon-neutral and made from organic and fair-trade cotton. They also create garments for Puma.

Many new job-creating activities have since been set up to address other social and economic needs of the local community providing over 400 members of the local community with jobs including conservation rangers, horticulturalists, teachers, carbon monitors, construction workers, community liaison staff and administrative personnel. Wildlife Works sees empowering local people with sustainable livelihoods as the key to protecting the forest in the long-term, and uses part of the proceeds from carbon offset sales to fund entrepreneurship activities and support various local social groups. The carbon offset programme also funds a community trust from which the community makes investments in other projects of critical importance to them.

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Mama Mercy, Founder of the Imani Women’s Group

“Women are supported by Wildlife Works, and this is particularly important, as women are the ambassadors of change. Previously, some of the biggest problems were people cutting down trees for charcoal and killing animals for bush meat. Now, it is very rare to see people doing this. We understand that eco-tourism is very important to our community, so it is necessary to protect the wildlife that people come to see. With over 400 people employed by Wildlife Works, there is a viable alternative with an incentive to protect our environment.” – Mama Mercy, Founder of the Imani Women’s Group

Supporting the Local Communities:

Illegal charcoal production is one of the main causes of deforestation in the area and indeed throughout Eastern Africa, so Wildlife Works has set up a sustainable charcoal production facility. Here, twigs and sticks no thicker than a finger are pruned from specific trees in certain areas, burned to char in barrels, and then compressed into bricks that burn more efficiently and at no cost to the nearby forests. This process directly addresses deforestation in the area and creates a viable economic alternative through a small enterprise business opportunity.

Lack of water is another major underlying cause of deforestation and poverty in this region, and it lies at the heart of many other nutrition and health issues. Families who are unable to produce a crop on one plot of land because of dry soil will cut down a neighboring area of forest in hope that the next plot of land will provide a better harvest. Wildlife Works has therefore set up a number of agricultural intensificaton programmes and repaired and built several projects that improve access to water. The Sasenyi Rock Catchment, for example, was completed earlier this year and now provides water for up to 8000 people on a daily basis. Women and children no longer have to walk many miles and waste hours on a daily basis in search of water, so their time can be better spent looking for alternative income-generating activities and attending school. With better quality water, the health and hygiene of local families is greatly enhanced.

It is not just the local people that receive help: Wildlife Works has a vast area of animals and birds to look after. Since they have been in Africa, the team has witnessed firsthand the increase in ivory poachers. Over 100 brave rangers diligently patrol the project area unarmed, and regularly come face to face with sophisticated gangs who kill the elephants and sell the ivory to satisfy demand for religious icons, trinkets and jewelry.

It is vital that we all support the next generation of Kenyans. Children in the Kasigau Corrdinor projcect area now the importance of school and highly value education. They are fiercly ambitious, having seen how much their parents have to sacrifice to pay their school fees and having witnessed how education and a job can truly transform quality of life. Prior to this project, it was very rare for students to attend university. Last year alone, Wildlife Works funded more than 1800 promising young Kenyans into secondary school, college and university, and have built and renovated over 20 local classrooms.

“Projects like the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ exist and thrive thanks to the support of people like you, who choose to offset their emissions with projects that protect the environment and improve lives,” explains ClimateCare Director Edward Hanrahan. “This offset scheme gives you a chance to participate and support a project that proves rural communities can sustainably grow, change, improve, and create the future they want while protecting precious environment and wildlife.”

If you are a corporate leader or would like your company to reduce unavoidable emissions, please get in touch: contactus@wildlifeworks.com.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

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.