Anti-Poaching Patrols, Kenya
Our work in Kenya entails removing wire snares laid by bushmeat poachers, identifying the location of bushmeat poachers and other people found engaging themselves in illegal activities likely to cause negative impacts on wildlife or wildlife habitats. Care for the Wild’s anti-poaching teams gather information on poaching activities, charcoal production and wildlife distribution in a number of areas throughout the Mara Conservancy region and around Tsavo East National Park and surrounds.
Mara Elephant Project – Protection in the Field
The Maasai Mara National Reserve spans over 1,500 square kilometres, forming the northern extension of the vast Serengeti-Mara ecosystem and is home to one of the last great wildlife migrations on earth.
The Mara has experienced a drastic decline in wildlife populations in recent years. Available habitat is not only shrinking, but also suffering severe degradation due to increasing pressure from humans and their livestock, as well as the use of incompatible farming practices. A sharp increase in cases of human-wildlife conflict creates further issues. These threats are coupled with the escalating bush meat trade which is also having a profound and unsustainable impact on the Mara’s wildlife and is believed to be one of the greatest direct causes of wildlife decline in many parts of Africa.
Unlike other protected areas in Kenya the Mara does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Kenya Wildlife Service, instead it is run by a local council. This means that all anti-poaching efforts have to be privately funded and organised, which severely limits the extent of projects that can be undertaken – precisely why Care for the Wild works with the Mara Elephant Project to provide patrols that are essential for the protection of wildlife in this area.
Our Mara team consists of three scouts, accompanied by two rangers from the Mara Elephant Project for protection from armed poachers. We recruit our team members from local Maasai tribesmen which helps to secure widespread support for the project. As well as conducting regular de-snaring sweeps, the team runs conservation education programmes in local schools and their regular presence in the area acts as a deterrent to poachers. The team document poaching hotspots and incidents, and assist with veterinary treatment to any animals with human-induced injuries encountered during patrols. Want to see the reality of the patrols in the Mara? Then watch this video of our CEO on patrol with the Care for the Wild/Anne K Taylor teams, shot in 2012.
Tsavo East National Park
The Tsavo ecosystem includes the largest protected area in Kenya and is home to the largest elephant population in the country. It is an area seriously threatened by poaching activities, which has forced most wildlife populations into decline. Most people depend on subsistence farming of maize as a staple diet, while the consumption of domestic meat remains prohibitively expensive, wild animals have therefore become an important source of cheap protein for the people and as cash income where alternative sources do not exist.
The Tsavo de-snaring team has three scouts and a team leader. They are accompanied on their patrols by at least two rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service, both for protection and to make arrests of suspected poachers. Like in the Mara, team members are recruited from local communities to make the most of their local knowledge and to encourage support in the protection of wildlife. The team focuses on tracking bushmeat poaching and tackling the destruction of wildlife habitat through illegal logging and charcoal production. They provide an extra barrier of protection around the borders of the national park, complimenting the work of the Kenya Wildlife Service within the park.
You can see how charcoal production is destroying the habitat in this short video.
Snares inflict terrible injuries and cause agonising drawn out deaths as animals try to free themselves from their torment. Poachers construct snares out of any wire they can lay their hands on, including telephone and fencing wires, and even wire embedded in tyres. Because snares do not distinguish between species, they result in the deaths and injuries of many non-target animals including lions, leopards, hyenas and even elephants.
Our team removes well over 1000 snares per year. Based on a conservative estimate of 5% daily catch potential per set snare our patrols prevent the potential maiming and killing of around 150,000 animals every year. This is only one element of our Kenya team’s work – we work to not only to remove the direct threats but prevent them being set in the first place. We work with communities to detect responsible poachers, educate and lend advice to reduce wildlife conflict and train community volunteers to remove snares. Our vision is to see less and less of these barbaric snares being set at all, across our patrol areas over time.
To see how a snare works, watch our CEO being ‘trapped’ in a snare below.
Educating future generations
Our anti-poaching team in Tsavo have recently started a pilot education project in two local schools which, if successful, we hope to develop in coming years. We have already donated educational materials, desks and textbooks to the schools. Over the next two years, the team will give a series of talks on the value of protecting wildlife, accompanied by informative film shows, and culminating in a field trip to the national park for all pupils. For many, this will be their first chance to see wild animals up close in their natural environment.
Support our anti-poaching patrols
There are a number of ways you can support our anti-poaching work with a donation, regular giving or even as an unusual gift for someone.
- If you care about the decline in elephant numbers from poaching, donate to our Last Chance for Elephants Appeal here
- You can always be sure of making a difference by becoming a Wildlife Hero
- Adopt an elephant or rhino with us
- Visit our online shop for some wonderful animal themed gifts