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Training Anti-Poaching Scouts in Amboseli

  • 03/11/09
  • Muoria

As I mentioned in my earlier post, working with local communities is crucial in our Grevy’s zebra conservation efforts. We therefore work with local community  scouts  to monitor Grevy’s zebras and other wild animal numbers, human-wildlife conflicts, poaching and other conservation related issues.

Because of our experience in working with community scouts – in particularly on community areas around Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba national reserves – I was requested by Fiesta (AWF’s Kilimanjaro Heartland Director) to help recruit and train scouts to monitor wildlife in Osupuko and Kilitome conservancies.

[caption id="attachment_546" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Kilitome community scouts we trained near Amboseli."]The Kilitome community scouts we trained near Amboseli.[/caption]

These two conservancies lie on an important wildlife corridor connecting Amboseli National Park with Kimana Sanctuary and on to Tsavo West National Park (read more about AWF’s land leasing program with them here).

Towards the end of last year, I visited the Kilimanjaro Heartland and with Rashid (AWF Field Assistant), we managed to recruit and train 4 scouts who have been monitoring wildlife distribution, poaching, human-wildlife conflicts and other wildlife issues in Osupuko Conservancy.

[caption id="attachment_549" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Rashid goes over mapping with the scout trainees."]Rashid goes over mapping with the scout trainees.[/caption]

Last week, I visited the Kilimanjaro Heartland again to help Rashid recruit and train scouts for Kilitome conservancy, located just next to Amboseli National Park. Rashid had already dealt with all the logistical issues, and on 3rd March 2009, 13 members of Kilitome conservancy were eagerly waiting to be interviewed to become Kilitome Conservancy scouts.

Conducting interviews and selecting the best was very challenging; all the interviewees were prepared to become “community  scouts.” However, only 6 were to be selected and Rashid and myself had to decide on the best 6.

[caption id="attachment_548" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Rashid trains the scouts how to walk transects using GPS."]Rashid trains the scouts how to walk transects using GPS.[/caption]

The training day was on 4th March. The 6 new scouts who were selected the previous day were trained on the importance of wildlife, the importance of monitoring and data collection protocols. They learnt to use GPS units and to record wildlife sightings, human-wildlife conflict incidents, poaching and other illegal wildlife killing incidents, and vegetation destruction.

[caption id="attachment_547" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Here I am in "the Dusty Heartland" working with a GPS unit."]Here I am in "the Dusty Heartland" working with a GPS unit.[/caption]

About the Author

Dr. Paul Muoria leads AWF’s Grevy’s Zebra research and conservation project in the Samburu Heartland of Kenya. A few decades ago, more than 15,000 Grevy’s zebras inhabited Africa. Today, less than 2,500 remain. Paul is fighting to turn this trend around. In a sea of stripes, Paul is working to identify and record each individual Grevy’s and to track their movements. Also, he is training scouts to help engage communities and safeguard these endangered zebras from marching towards extinction.

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