The March tropical sun was brutal and the dust storms would not let our eyes rest, but it was the day and the mission had to be accomplished. The Nasuulu Community Conservancy headquarters in Samburu, would be the venue for the handing over of essential and practical ranger kits to the conservancy rangers.
Save the Elephants, with help from the Northern Rangelands Trust had been instrumental in the setting up of this conservancy. Five years ago, the Nasuulu area was a blood bath for both man and wildlife. Four communities (Somalis, Boranas, Samburus and Turkanas) would kill each other in centuries’ long feuds, and this insecurity greatly affected the wildlife that roamed the area. In 2012 alone, we lost 26 elephants in this region to poaching. It was clear. Only peace would end this madness.
March 8th 2015 therefore, would not only be a handing over ceremony, but a celebration of the great milestones that have been achieved by the Nasuulu community. In 2013 only 2 elephants were reported killed in these bounds, and the guns have been silent ever since. To maintain this status quo, the rangers need to be equipped to deal with the grueling conditions in the field. Many are the times they have had to use polythene bags as storage and sleeping bags, but not anymore. AFRICOM (The United States Africa Command) and Stand Up Shout Out (SUSO) to the rescue!
AFRICOM and SUSO’s combined efforts have ensured the rangers are now better equipped for their work. The gear ranged from boots, jackets, water bottles, webbings and sleeping bags. The rangers were elated! Their faces expressed joy, gratitude and mostly relief, as they promised to work even harder to ensure that Nasuulu remains a safe haven for both man and wildlife.
Every speech made at the ceremony (from the Chairman to the conservancy elder and board member) reiterated the importance of, and a promise to maintain peace. In a heart-felt speech, Mzee Omar, Vice Chair of the Nasuulu Community Conservancy stressed the power there is in unity.
“… let it be remembered that we did not achieve peace through fighting, but through dialogue. There was no gun involved. We have owned peace. Who then can come and cause havoc?”
Stand Up Shout Out is a youth organization that was founded in 2013 by a young man who believed that the youth were no longer the leaders of tomorrow but of today and whose time to be heard had come. One of its pillars is to empower the youth and it was therefore very encouraging for the team to meet a group of young Morans who had come to the center to be trained on alternative methods to empower themselves without engaging in fights and cattle rustling. Nasuulu Conservancy Manager, Mr. Isaiah commended the young team and said that they have learned a big lesson on how to relate and deal with the youth – by encouraging them to be proactive and showing them that they too can achieve great things. In the past the youth have been misused and encouraged to engage in things like wars and cattle rustling. Now there is a hope to bridge that gap between the elders and the youth.
SUSO’s President, Peter Moll thanked Save the Elephants for facilitating his organization’s first trip up north and encouraged the rangers to keep up the good work.
“From this friendly acceptance from the rangers and the community, it actually shows that there will be a long term partnership here, in helping empower not just the rangers, but the whole community and the youth.”
The Nasuulu Conservancy is still relatively young and growing in its activities thus still faces some challenges. The rangers would still benefit from more equipment especially night vision goggles (the poachers use such hi-tech equipment to easily detect where the rangers and elephants are hiding) and more guns as currently they only have 2. Education is also a great challenge here and they asked that if ever such a chance arose, they would benefit greatly from sending 4 students (one from each tribe) to University. We did not have to wait for long, as the youth-led organization immediately offered to sponsor 4 students. That announcement was a big deal and great place to end the successful day.
Save the Elephants is committed to peace and conflict resolution in our areas of operation, and we will not rest until peace is fully achieved in the north, for man and indeed, elephants.
So as the rangers retreated to their base to prepare for the bush, the rest of us stayed behind to celebrate with some cold sodas.
Watch a short video of the ceremony