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Super-Predators Foiled by Kenya Fencing Project

Anne Kent Taylor reports from rural Kenya that her project to help livestock farmers fence their animals at night has put barriers around 200 bomas–and so far there have been no reports of predation in the protected enclosures. The work is supported by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, an initiative by the National geographic...

Anne Kent Taylor reports from rural Kenya that her project to help livestock farmers fence their animals at night has put barriers around 200 bomas–and so far there have been no reports of predation in the protected enclosures. The work is supported by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, an initiative by the National geographic Society and its supporters to help restore and protect lions and other super-predators in their natural range by mitigating conflict between predators and people.

By Anne Kent Taylor

From the Field in Kenya’s Maasai Mara — It has been an active several days in the Maasai Mara. I had the pleasure of hosting Jess and John Paul Teutonico, who are great friends and supporters of several community projects throughout Kenya.

We were hampered by very heavy rains which made the community areas we needed to visit almost impossible due to the dreadful condition of the “roads”. With one eye on the blackening clouds, we finally reached a remote area where a school is badly needed.

Currently the small children walk 10 kms [6 miles] to and from school, dodging wild animals as they go. We were accompanied by the local Chief and greeted enthusiastically by the teacher and parents of the existing nursery school where lessons take place in a small one-room church.

We “paced and measured” and left with promises of a proposal from them, once a builder had been identified. It would be lovely to fulfill the dream of these parents and children by building a school so that the children may study without running the daily risk of their long journey to the closest school.

It was great fun introducing my daughter and 14-month-old grandson to this community — the Maasai children loved meeting little T and there were welcoming arms from all the children as he was passed from one to another. Many of them had never seen a white child so they were all very intrigued by him as they poked, stroked, and kissed him. They particularly loved rubbing his blonde hair!

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Photo by and courtesy of John-Paul Teutonico Photography.

I also had the pleasure of welcoming Satya Dam to the Mara. An extraordinary man who has conquered the North and South Pole and Mt. Everest innumerable times and most places in between! He has become a good friend and I appreciate all the support and encouragement that he is offering me and the Anne K. Taylor Fund project. Sadly, he wanted to see a leopard, but that was not to be (until the next day and after he had left!), but we did see a side-striped jackal which are nocturnal and not often seen.

The Mara Conservancy rangers and theThe Anne K.Taylor Fund/CFTWK de-snaring team successfully apprehended a poacher, found deep in the forest. Three other poachers escaped, but hopefully not for long.

Regrettably they had already done their “dirty work” and had killed hippos and warthogs. All the meat was collected by the rangers and burned. This particular poacher was an educated, clean-cut 18-year-old. He surrendered when shots were fired in the air by the authorities.

He was, apparently, recruited by hardened poachers, in the marketplace. This is a worrisome trend along the lines of “child soldiers.” By the time these young men are fully adult they have no sense of right or wrong, nor do they have a conscience.

The AKTF team is currently visiting all of the Maasai livestock enclosures, which we have fortified with 8-foot chainlink fence to prevent predation and the resultant revenge killings of predators.

This important project has been made possible with the support of National Geographic Big Cats Initiative and other generous donors, including A&K Philanthropy.

We are in the process of registering the GPS coordinates and gathering important information on the numbers of livestock which have been killed by predators. Once we have recorded the coordinates, we will map these bomas for ease of further reference and for the interest of our supporters.

Click here to find out more about the Big Cats Intiative.

Photo compilation courtesy of Beverly and Dereck Joubert

To date, we have protected approximately 200 “bomas,” with no further predation, and no revenge killings, being recorded. Many organizations throughout Kenya are now very interested in this particular protocol and are protecting bomas from further predation.

Today I visited the NyakwereForest. A couple of months ago, our team found a beautiful male leopard caught in a wire spring snare . The attempts by a veterinarian to rescue it were unsuccessful and the leopard broke away from the snare, with part of it still attached to its leg. This must be agonizing and makes this a very dangerous leopard.

Our team recently received a report of a leopard killing goats and dogs in a homestead next to the forest — upon investigation we were told that the leopard was limping. I immediately contacted the Kenya Wildlife Service warden, who reacted swiftly by setting a live trap for the leopard. Each night a goat (poor beast!) will be put into the cage as bait — although the leopard cannot reach the goat and its life is not in danger, I feel sorry for the terror it might experience. If, however, we can remove the snare from the leopard, the goat’s part in this drama will be worthwhile. I will keep you posted!

A day has passed and still no leopard but we live in hope. I am signing off as the copper tail monkeys play on my roof and fly through the trees in front of my house. Truly a little piece of heaven, and one I am dedicated to trying to preserve for future generations.

My sincere gratitude goes to all those who choose to support Anne K. Taylor Fund’s work in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. With this support we can do so much to make a difference.

Anne Kent Taylor was born and raised in East Africa. Several months a year she resides in the Maasai Mara. During four decades working in the safari business, she has seen growing pressures on wildlife. With the increase of human settlements around the Mara reserve, predator-livestock conflicts have grown in the Maasai bomas (traditional enclosures). Through partnership with the Maasai in community projects and fortifying existing bomas with simple methods of natural and wire fencing, the Anne K Taylor Fund has had a 100 percent success rate at preventing livestock predation and the resultant revenge killings of predators. Anne’s conservation team includes Maasai members who help educate their community to become the protectors of their own wildlife heritage.

Learn more about the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative

How to apply for a Big Cats Initiative grant

Donate to the Big Cats Initiative

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Author Photo David Max Braun
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn