The El Barta plains were historically a Grevy’s zebra hotspot but the population was decimated by hunting for the skin trade before its ban in 1977. Today, Grevy’s zebra are poached for subsistence meat. Our Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors are employed from local communities, including those that have traditionally hunted wildlife; engaging them directly in the program has significantly increased community responsibility for protecting the species, and increased local vigilance and reporting of illegal activities.
Currently, GZT employs 14 Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors and 2 Radio Operators from 8 communities. In the past 5 years since the inception of this program, poaching by resident communities that traditionally hunted wildlife for subsistence meat has ceased; however, poaching threats still exist from migrating pastoralists who have not had exposure to conservation, and from warriors who are planning livestock raids and live off wildlife.
Our Ambassador team is trained in security and surveillance operations after attending the Kenya Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Academy in southern Kenya. The course is designed to enhance anti-poaching and community engagement skills. Through provision of uniforms and communications equipment, the security network has been expanded and strengthened across the region. We have a dedicated radio base in El Barta and we work with the Kenya Wildlife Service, the community conservancies of Ndoto, El Barta and Nyiro, the Samburu County Government and the Milgis Trust to follow up any incidents of insecurity in the areas patrolled by our Ambassadors.
Peace and Conservation
Hunting still remains a threat from migrating pastoralists to the region and by livestock raiding parties. In addition, inter-ethnic tension arises when many groups converge to use the plains. In response to this, in 2014, GZT established and trained an umbrella Conservation Council representing one elder and one warrior from eleven different communities in the El Barta region. The 22-member Elbarta Conservation Council (ECC) is responsible for reaching out to migrating communities and warriors to address illegal hunting and resource use, as well as to foster peace. Its first outreach meeting in August 2014 was extremely powerful and effective, calming down rising ethnic tension, and addressing recent poaching incidents.
Our Field Director, Peter Lalampaa, has been trained in advanced Conservation Conflict Transformation (CCT) by the Human Wildlife Conflict Collaboration and has applied it effectively in several cases. The result is that people are brought around, relationships are strengthened, and they become strong supporters of our work. In addition to human-wildlife conflict incidents, this training is also excellent for dealing with conflict between people, which is especially relevant for the El Barta context. Training has been conducted with the ECC and further training will be conducted with the Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors.
Our Grevy’s Zebra Ambassadors facilitate regular informal meetings with community members they come into contact with on their daily patrols and, more formally, hold community meetings to facilitate knowledge exchange, track program progress, share recommendations and receive direct input into local conservation plans.