Community Outreach: A day with Boda Boda Operators


By Jerenimo Leperei, Community Outreach Officer

Date Published

It is widely believed that Boda Boda bikers – Kenyan taxi drivers on motorbikes – aid in transporting many illegal goods including ivory, in and around Archer’s Post, an important outpost in Samburu, Kenya. In light of this, together with teams from Osotua Wildlife Foundation, KWS, ex-poachers and wardens from the Samburu National Reserve, we hosted a campaign meeting to sensitize the bikers on poaching and its effects. A day before the meeting two ivory dealers were killed as they loaded ivory into their car at Ololokwe. This meant there was a lot of tension amongst the Boda Boda operators who knew the deceased very well.

I started the meeting by mentioning the risks that the taxis and Boda Boda operators face when they transport illegal things (especially ivory). I used the example of the two dealers who were killed and suggested that if they had not used a car they may have hired one of the bikes and one of them could have lost his life. Showing the results of the 2008 and 2012 aerial elephant censuses and the 15 per cent drop in numbers over that time stunned them and many of them wondered how we had lost so many elephants in just four years. It brought about a long discussion and after a rough calculation they approximated that we might only have around 200 elephants left in 10 years’ time. None of them has ever seen a rhino and I warned them that if they help transport ivory then their kids would also not see elephants.

Jerenimo explains the situation on the ground

Other speakers also gave out strong messages. Koyaso, a notorious former poacher, mentioned how he used Boda Boda bikers to transport ivory and to bring him food while in the bush. He condemned poaching and all those who helped it happen and said it was just wasting time and risking lives. A KWS Senior Sergeant added that they are aware of everything that goes on, and gave out his phone number and urged the operators to work together with us for the future of our wildlife.

Tom Lolosoli from Osotua summed up by pointing out that all the Boda Boda operators are very young, energetic boys, who are working hard to better their lives. Many are still looking for jobs and maybe some might get work in conservation later. He advised them to shun poaching and all related activities as they may limit work opportunities. “It has been very evident that it is only when the community joins the fight that we score big-time in protecting our wildlife heritage” Tom added.

On behalf of the rest, one of the bikers expressed gratitude for the very informative occasion. He noted that they were shocked by what happened to the two dealers and promised to work together with us to stop poaching. The success of the meeting was capped with one man reporting a piece of ivory in his house that his daughter had found in the bush while collecting firewood. We recovered the piece and handed it to KWS.

An elder gives a vote of thanks speech