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24
Feb

Ch. 33: Locals defend poached elephant in gunfight

 

The Chaiman of Kipsing Trust explains an extraordinary change of attitudes towards wildlife and poaching in the area. He invited me to meet and reward two elders from Sieku valley, Kipsing.

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Chairman of Kipsing Community Trust with his head Warrior Scout

I tagged along and sat with them as the Chairman thanked them for what they had done by slaughtering a goat for us all to share.

The elders told us their story;

The poachers shot the elephant at 4pm, chasing it down the Sieku lugga until it hemorrhaged out on the sand. We saw this going on, we were watching. By evening the poachers had attempted to remove the ivory once, leaving briefly to return under the cover of darkness.
On returning they let off one round from their rifle to scare away anyone in the area. We shouted to each other, alerting the poachers that we were there. They let off another round, this time at us. Under attack now we began shooting back, scaring them away.
We stayed with the carcass all night in case the poachers returned preventing them from taking the ivory. We alerted the Kipsing Trust Warrior Scouts who arrived early in the morning. We guarded the ivory until the Kenya Wildlife Service arrived to safely take the tusks away.
These animals belong to us, to all of us, there is no-one that owns the wildlife. The wildlife is for all of us. So we are taking the responsibility of protecting them because they are part of us.
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When we were first invited to Kipsing in 2005 – we would often be in the area for weeks on end. Every afternoon / evening we would hear gun shots. No one checked – no one really cared. Although poaching of elephant was not as bad in those early years, elephant were killed and no one even reported the carcass. The bones are the evidence.

It is so incredibly rewarding to see community elders from the Sieku valley – stand up and do something. They heard the shots and made a choice to guard the ivory. Sadly a beautiful bull elephant lost his life, but his life was not wasted. The poachers used their illegal guns and bullets, their time and their energy to kill, but this time with no reward.

Once poachers realise the elders in this region are not to be messed with they will not return.

This is a massive breakthrough for us to see the community turn against poaching.

The aim of the Samburu Trust wildlife project is to get as many communities as possible to defend and fight for their elephant. This will make poaching incredibly difficult. The poachers will be pushed into corners and the elephant will learn to live in the areas where the communities look after them. They know where they are safe.

It may have taken the Samburu Trust 9 years in Kipsing – but it was well worth it.

As we say in Samburu, ASHE – a huge huge thank you to the two wazee in Sieku.
 
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