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CH.30: A FORMER POACHER’S MESSAGE

Please look at our glossary of Samburu words to the right for definitions of Samburu terms and click back through previous Chapters (below right) to understand more about the Samburu.

It started with reports of gunshots from across the river. A huge male elephant shot in the eye. This was the first of eleven elephant to lose their lives.

Once again the illegal trade of ivory is affecting the lives of the Samburu people – threatening their future and lands for generations to come.

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1. looking out

Following weeks of shooting and carcasses – the Samburu Trust brought the people and conservation groups together in an attempt to stop this poaching once and for all.

On 10th November the elephant was shot at 5pm. On hearing the shots the tribal elders rushed to the scene and fought the poachers all night long, to keep them from taking the ivory. After 8 years of working in Kipsing – this is a great result. The people themselves protecting their future.

Our aim is to get communities everywhere to fight for their elephant.

At this meeting a former poacher-turned-conservationist named Koyaso spoke to deliver this insightful and passionate statement from the other camp in our desperate poaching crisis; please read and pass on the following message from the former Poacher’s perspective.

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KOYASO SPEECH ON ANTI-POACHING CAMPAIGN IN OLDONYIRO, 18 November 2013

I hear you saying that you do not know the poachers. You all know. Even the elders who know their sons are poachers.

As I stand in front of you today I tell my story. I have tried to be a warrior twice. I lived in the bush with no contact to family life – as a criminal for 17 years.

Have been caught several times. I just came out and bought another illegal gun and went back to the bush. I have been caught with about 5 guns, as they were taken away I bought more.

I started pretending I am selling guns but the truth was I was selling ivory. I have been the king of the poachers, hiring and organising people to poach. I have the experience.

I have (previously) disturbed this warden from Samburu National Reserve, when I (used to) poach some meters from KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) camp and just pass by so that it is said they are the ones blamed for the killing.

I was married and had a hidden wife. When the government came to realize this, the warden came to my home. That is when I started realising that the government have great investigators (Otherwise known as siri- kali – which means a tough secret).

They surrounded my house trying to kill me but I had heard that they were coming and was hiding in a hole. They missed me and went back. I called them on the phone and told them they had missed me and I was at home.

I went on poaching until the tribal elders came to me and asked me to stop. I asked myself what was wrong with the elders – as I owed them nothing.

I sat and thought about how they were cursing me, all the wealth I am destroying belongs to everyone in that area.

This was the day I changed.

A poacher doesn’t come from somewhere else, he comes from within where the poaching has been done.

We have come here to bring this message. Let’s save these elephants as the tribal elders saved me.

All my partners that I was poaching with are dead. Only one and he is in jail. We were a team of 15 criminals and now there are only two of us left.

So let’s come and save this elephants for the future of our children and grandchildren.

It is morans (warriors) like that that poach these elephant, please don’t cheat us, and say that people from this area don’t poach.

To me it has come to an end and I’m passing a message: let us save the wildlife together, as the elders brought me up, feed me with the food and again employed me (to) look after this wildlife.

I am now a ranger as I stand.

Hear this message and pass to other visitors to your home that it is said lets stop poaching elephants and other wildlife.

You do not need a phone to pass this message you can pass it by foot.

Conservation is everywhere and if you can reach one person the message passes to the right channel.

We all know when poaching is done but you don’t speak out and by doing this you are hiding it. If you can’t report the name you can tell your partner and he passes to someone else.

You should teach your children that this elephant is important and you should employ these young guys, morans. The Morans are first in disseminating information and can talk to his fellow age mates.

Thanks and please pass this message to everyone.

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This article is a Samburu Trust collaboration. Please click here for more information.

We would like to thank Tom Lolosoli, Alex Lekalaile and Lepakiyo (Osotua Wildlife Trust), Gabriel Lolkipaengi (Educational Warden Samburu National Reserve), David Daballen, and Ijerenimo Lepirei (Save the Elephant International).

This Chapter by Julia Francombe, Sacha Kenyon, and Moses Lerusion.
All Images and text ©2013 Samburu Trust. All rights reserved.

Image Credits
Julia Francombe

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