Today was our first day in Kenya. We started the morning with a talk by Vicky Fishlock about her work with elephants in Amboseli on a herd that has been studied for 47 years. The talk focused on coexistence of humans and wildlife and the conflict that arises during this coexistence particularly when wildlife; raid farmers crops, kill livestock and injure or kill people. We also heard about how in Amboseli there is a council where conservationists and local communities and farmers meet to say where problems are arising and then solutions to these problems are explored to try and remove this conflict.
We had a second talk about seedballs and the role they can play in forest restoration. In Kenya a lot of trees are cut down to make charcoal and the rate of tree removal is greater than the rate of tree planting and growth. The seedballs are three seeds and an extra nutrient additive rolled in charcoal dust which allows them to remain viable until conditions for growth are favourable, this means that the seedballs can be planted at any time of year and not just during the rainy season.
After the talks we headed to the David Sheldrick elephant orphanage where we saw orphaned baby elephants being fed and heard the rangers at the elephant orphanage tell us more about the work of the David Sheldrick wildlife trust and where each baby elephant was rescued from and why they were orphaned. The elephants are rescued from various situations such as getting caught in snares, orphaned due to poaching or the mother dying of natural causes, and at the elephant orphanage they are rehabilitated over several years with them introduced slowly to wild herds in the hope that they will be adopted into the wild herds when they reach adulthood. The David Sheldrick wildlife trust has the advantage of being a brand and bringing tourists to see the elephants in the orphanage and persuading tourists to adopt an elephant. This allows them to get the money to rescue the orphaned elephants as well as pay for wildlife vet teams to go out and aid injured animals throughout Kenya, or build elephant proof fences in areas where there is conflict with elephants. In Meru they built a large elephant proof fence due to the large amount of conflict between humans and elephants there.
Then it was on to our campsite at Lake Naivasha, the largest freshwater lake in Kenya. On the drive over to our campsite we saw some amazing wildlife including giraffes, zebras, buffalo and lots of fantastic bird species. We stopped halfway through the drive in the rift valley to stretch our legs and admire the view which was spectacular. Once we arrived at camp we pitched our tents and wandered down to the lake to look for birds and we saw lots of birds including lovebirds, fish eagles, pelicans, weavers and kingfishers. Overall a fantastic first day in Kenya.
er451 January 9th, 2020 Bahamas #ExeterUni #FieldCourseFortnight #FieldKenya #ExeterGlobal