Tag Archives: Maasai Steppe

APW Winter Newsletter 2015

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Have you seen our winter newsletter? As we say farewell to 2015, we reflect on our past 10 years of work in Tanzania. From our innovative operation headquartered in the rural community of Loibor Siret on the southeastern boundary of Tarangire National Park, we are expanding our impact to communities across Northern Tanzania.

This year, we celebrate over 600 Living Walls in place, protecting the lives of over 100 of Tanzania’s lions, and over 100 000 cattle for 10 000 rural community members. We celebrate our women’s entrepreneurial groups, who started harvesting honey from their eco-friendly hives this past year. We celebrate Magayane Revocatus, our Conservation Education officer who is our second staff member to be named a Disney Conservation Hero. We celebrate our growing team of Warriors for Wildlife, local community members who have chosen to commit to work towards a brighter future for the wildlife in their communities. And of course we celebrate you — who continue to stand beside us and help us grow as we embark on our next decade in East Africa.

Thank you.

Read the full newsletter here, including a heartfelt thank you from our executive director Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, and a debate in the science community on fencing Africa’s National Parks.

10 Years of People & Wildlife [VIDEO]

Full article published on National Geographic Cat Watch

Just ten years ago, two young explorers set up camp by a small acacia at the top of a hill given to them by the rural Tanzanian community of Loibor Siret. That camp was to eventually become a permanent base for the African People & Wildlife Fund’s conservation programs focusing on the lions of the Maasai Steppe – a program that now protects thousands of head of livestock and 100 lions every year with over 500 Living Walls. With one side of the hill looking to the community rangelands and the other side looking to the eastern edge of Tarangire National Park, a flagship haven for African biodiversity, the location was a perfect metaphor for the work they set out to do.

Those two explorers were Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld and Charles Trout, now directors of the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW). What started as a tent on top of a land rover has grown into an operation that spans 19 communities across 30 000 km2 of Northern Tanzanian rangelands. The small two-man tent has been replaced by the Noloholo Environmental Center, a one-of-a-kind emblem combining traditional architecture and sustainable design that stands on top of the hill where it all started and marks the organization’s headquarters in Tanzania. The newly released 2014 Annual Report highlights the milestones of the last ten years, and as we celebrate a decade of success on the Steppe we invite you to share in celebrating Big Cats and Communities in Northern Tanzania.

This video highlights the journey we have taken over these past 10 years, and the strong relationships that have stemmed from it:

Winter Issue of the Carnivore Chronicle

Find out what our organization has been doing to change the face of conservation on and off the Maasai Steppe. Our latest issue of the Carnivore Chronicle is now on our website! Happy Holidays!

A Budding Biologist – Meet Noloholo Environmental Scholar, Hussein Maricha

The African People and Wildlife Fund’s Noloholo Environmental Scholars program started in 2010. Since then, we’ve sent 16 students from the Maasai Steppe to a private secondary school in Monduli. The six-year scholarship allows these motivated boys and girls to have access to many opportunities and experiences that they might not get in their hometowns. We are very proud of our scholars and what they represent for the futures of their communities and the environment.

Hussein Maricha

 

Hussein Maricha was helping APW’s environmental education staff grade exams for the Noloholo Environmental Summer Camps. He has just finished his first term as a scholar but bravely comes forward for the interview, eager to practice his English.

 

African People and Wildlife Fund: Hussein, how are you?

 

Hussein Maricha: I am very well thanks. I have been very happy.

 

APW: What have you been happy about?

 

HM: I am happy because I enjoy being home. I get to relax and rest. It is nice to relax after being at school and working hard.

 

He squints as the sun comes out from behind some clouds. On the balcony at the Noloholo Environmental Center, he glances towards the plains of Tarangire National Park.

 

APW: What do you like to study in school?

 

HM: I love all the science subjects, but my favorite subject is biology. I would like to be an animal biologist one day.

 

APW: What makes you want to be a biologist?

 

HM: I think animals are very interesting. Last year I went to Tarangire National Park (with APW), and I saw so many animals. It was my first time seeing so many animals. It would be great to study them.

 

APW: What animal do you want to study?

 

HM: I am not sure yet, but my favorite animals are lions. I think they are very proud and beautiful.

 

I imagine Dr. Lichtenfeld has found her protégé in this charismatic, outgoing young man. Although he has only been studying English for a little while, he isn’t shy or quiet. He dives into our conversation with confidence and understanding, unafraid to make mistakes in spite of the unfamiliarity.

 

APW:  How old are you?

 

HM: I’m 17 years old and I am in Form One.

 

APW: Do you like your school?

 

HM: Yes, I love it. There are so many great teachers and beautiful buildings.

 

Hussein is the youngest of two boys, living with his parents in Loibor Siret. His father is the English and Mathematics teacher at his old school, Loibor Siret Primary School. Although he says he prefers his school in Monduli, he credits his father with teaching him how to be a diligent student.

 

HM: My father has always been supportive of me, and he has taught me many things about being a good student.

 

APW:  Is your brother also in school?

 

HM: Yes, he will be going into Form 5. He hopes to become a physician.

 

APW: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

 

HM: I like playing football with my friends on my school team. I also like watching football. My favorite team is Chelsea Football Club. My favorite player is Oscar.

 

APW: How has your experience been as a scholar?

 

HM: I feel very lucky to be a scholar. My family is very happy for me and supportive, and I feel successful.

 

We wish Hussein the best of luck as he continues on his journey to become a biologist! We are there to help!

If you would like to help support a Noloholo Environmental Scholar,

you can donate at www.afrpw.org/donate or contact us at [email protected]

The 2013 Class of Noloholo Environmental Scholars

The 2013 Class of Noloholo Environmental Scholars

Another Happy Herdsman – Yohana Lojumbutwa Receives APW’s 250th Living Wall

Yohana Lojumbutwa has been living in his boma for eighteen years. He used to protect his seventy head of cattle with the dry, feeble thorn bushes used by the majority of Maasai pastoralists. But recently, he installed the last component of his new Living Wall.

 

APW designed its Living Walls to protect big cats, people and livestock while preserving the environment. Since our first installation in 2008, they have done just that.

 

Cloaked in his bright blue shuka, Yohana greets us warmly at his boma with his sons and nephews. Around the cattle corral, newly planted Commiphora africana poles are ready for binding with chain-link fencing. It took Yohana three weeks to cut the branches of mature Commiphora trees, find a tractor to haul them to his boma and wait for the branches to dry before planting them around his boma. This may seem like a long time, but he won’t have to do it again for at least another 25 years.

 

“Prior to my Living Wall, I had to replace the thorn bushes around my corral every three months. It takes three weeks just to get enough thorns because all the bushes in the area are gone,” Yohana said. Like many other Maasai households, Yohana’s wives and the elders at his boma are responsible for replacing the thorny bush fences. As time passes, the women and elders have to travel farther and farther to get the bushes because the closest ones were cut long ago – a classic case of deforestation.

 

The Commiphora trees used to reinforce the chain-link fencing for Living Walls are branches or cuttings from mature trees. The “parent” tree isn’t cut down or killed in the process.  Our technique helps to prevent habitat loss and further deforestation, in fact we are increasing the number of trees on the Steppe. Livestock owners dry the Commiphora branches for about a week and then plant them around the boma.

 

“It’s extremely hard work cutting the thorns for traditional bomas,” Yohana said. Remarking on his new Living Wall, he adds, “Not only are the women happy, but I am happy too because now the cattle can’t break out of the boma and I don’t have to collect them when they do.” Yohana isn’t sure how many times carnivores attacked his cattle over the years. But, he says the majority of the attacks happen when the cattle break out of the boma and run off into the open fields and grasslands. Earlier in the year, he lost two cows to lions that had attacked the herd after they had escaped from the boma.

“There isn’t anyone who doesn’t want a Living Wall. Everyone with a boma wants a wall,” Yohana said with a wide grin as the last foot of chain-link was nailed into a commiphora post.

Noloholo Environmental Summer Camps Off to a Great Start

Children from the villages of Loibor Siret and Narakauo arrived yesterday morning for the first week of the Noloholo Environmental Summer Camps. After the first day we are pleased to see these shy, polite kids warming up to the staff here at Noloholo. For the next week they’ll be participating in a wide range of activities and lessons.

Our wildlife monitoring intern, Kelly Stoner with some of the kids bird watching on the patio at the Noloholo Environmental Center.

Our wildlife monitoring intern, Kelly Stoner with some of the kids bird watching on the patio at the Noloholo Environmental Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday afternoon, Talia, our environmental education intern gave a lesson on how to create compost.  On several visits to the communities, APW was concerned about the trash disposal, and we hope that by giving the children the tools and information they need they can help create compost heaps in their communities and homes.

Talia Calnek-Sugin, our environmental education intern, giving her lesson on composting.

Talia Calnek-Sugin, our environmental education intern, giving her lesson on composting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the week, there will be daily bird watching and everyday the children will have a different lesson on the environment and conservation in Tanzania. Before today’s lunch they had a lesson on the history of Tanzanian conservation, which was taught by Neo, our environmental education officer. Neo also taught a lesson on beekeeping. Many of the kids were dressed in costumes and helped depict the life of a bee for the other children. The classroom here at Noloholo has begun to erupt with laughter and applause since the arrival of the kids.

The kids had a binocular lesson yesterday and went outside to apply what they had learnt in the classroom.

The kids had a binocular lesson yesterday and went outside to apply what they had learnt in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow afternoon our wildlife monitoring intern, Kelly, will be taking the children out to see the camera traps at a nearby korongo. She is preparing a short lesson on how they gather information from the cameras and the many species of animals that APW has caught on the traps.

Rachel, a Noloholo Environmental Scholar, misses a volley during a friendly volleyball game after the day's activities.

Rachel, a Noloholo Environmental Scholar, misses a volley during a friendly volleyball game after the day’s activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our environmental scholars will be joining us for the camps, helping the officers with the children and participating in the fun lessons and activities we have planned. Many of them are veterans to the camp, and are attending for the fourth year in a row. They are proving to be great role models for our younger campers who could be our newest potential scholars.

When the dinner bell rings, the footballs stop rolling and the boys stop playing.

When the dinner bell rings, the footballs stop rolling and the boys stop playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be considered for the camps, the children were given an exam testing them on the various lessons they have learnt in the Wildlife Clubs. APW chose the top 5 students from the villages Loibor Siret, Narakauo, Kimotorok and Kangala.

June E-News Update!

If you would like to read our most recent update from the Maasai Steppe, please click here.

If you would like to subscribe to our e-news updates and biannual newsletter, please visit our website, www.afrpw.org and click on “Subscribe to Official Newsletter” at the bottom left of the page or go to our Facebook page and click on “Get Noloholo News” at the top of the page.

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Wildlife Clubs get ready for Noloholo Environmental Summer Camps!

The children who participate in our Wildlife Clubs are sitting their examination this week, to be admitted to the Noloholo Environmental Summer Camps in July. We visited a few of the schools in Kimotorok, Loibor Siret and Narakauo last week and were pleased to see that most of the children were working hard on projects and activities focused around helping the environment in their respective communities.

Some members of our team visited the Kimelok Primary School in Kimotorok on Tuesday. They found the schoolyard to be the cleanest of all the communities they had visited. When our environmental education team asked them about what they were doing, the children were proud to report that they had started a trash collecting initiative. The children make sure to collect any garbage they find around, putting it into a pit that the teachers and students help to dig earlier in the year. The environmental education officers at APW are working hard to find a way to ensure they have enough garbage receptacles to place in bathrooms and classrooms as well as around the schoolyard.

Wildlife Club members at Kimelok Primary School in Kimotorok, talk with their teacher and our environmental education officers.

Wildlife Club members at Kimelok Primary School in Kimotorok, talk with their teacher and our environmental education officers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wildlife Club at Narakauo has started a chicken coop project. Along with their teacher, the children are building a chicken coop, so they can start selling fresh eggs to their community. They hope that with the profits they make from selling eggs, they can take a trip into Tarangire National Park. Although the park is just a few miles west of their community, many of the children have never been inside, and never had a chance to see all the incredible wildlife that calls the park home.

Wildlife Club members from Narokawo Primary School are proudly show off their chicken coop project. Our assistant environmental education officer, Revo, is pictured to the far right.

Wildlife Club members from Narakauo Primary School are proudly showing off their chicken coop project. Our assistant environmental education officer, Revo, is pictured to the far right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Tuesday afternoon, our environmental education intern, Talia, went to the Loibor Siret Primary School to take a look at the computer that was donated through connections at APW. The computer was donated thanks to the students of Hill Freedman World Academy, a National Geographic Big Cats Initiative sister school. Talia is drawing up a comprehensive curriculum to teach the children how to use the computer, once they have returned to school after their summer break.

Our environmental education intern, Talia, takes a look at the computer in Loibor Siret. She's  developing a curriculum to teach the children how to use it this summer.

Our environmental education intern, Talia, takes a look at the computer in Loibor Siret. She’s developing a curriculum to teach the children how to use it this summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We asked all the children at the various schools if they were excited for the camps and they were eager to raise their hands. Those who attended in previous years shared their experiences and why they loved the Wildlife Clubs.

APW is getting ready for our first set of campers, arriving on July 1. We’ll be updating you on the fun we’ll be having, teaching the children about the environment and the many ways that they can become wildlife warriors.

Investing in the Business Side of Conservation – An Intern’s Perspective

A post by Jennifer Chin, APW summer intern and recent graduate of Duke University’s MEM/MBA joint-degree program.

No rain for eight months. This is a fact of life on Tanzania’s Maasai Steppe. The red-dirt roads crack in the dry air like aging skin, and the grasses and trees bake into endless shades of brown and gold. Maasai herders drive their treasured livestock far across village rangelands, seeking pasture. The wild savannah predators – lion, hyena, leopard, wild dog, cheetah – approach livestock enclosures and herds at pasture, seeking easy prey. It is a well-known recipe for conflict: predators eat livestock, herders hunt down predators.

 

In the midst of the long, dry season, I became an intern with the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW), traveling three hours southwest from Arusha to the Maasai village of Loibor Siret. Twelve years ago, APW co-founder, Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld, began working in and around Tarangire National Park.  She sought a resolution to the human-wildlife conflicts that were causing approximately 40 lions deaths every year. APW is now a permanent fixture east of Tarangire, making daily investments into big cat conservation and community development. Their locally-produced solution to livestock loss, “Living Walls,” is internationally recognized for its contributions to lion conservation. As a result, APW advises nearly every major environmental decision made in the region.

 

My work for APW made the most of my MBA/MEM from Duke University. I built financial models to measure potential community profit from wildlife-based tourism, delivered business planning and teamwork training to groups of local leaders, and developed a social survey to measure income from agricultural activities. The goal of my work was to generate higher, environmentally-sustainable incomes throughout the region.  In return, Loibor Siret residents welcomed me and my work with warmth and true pleasure.

 

For decades, conservationists have battled to deliver solutions for local communities that (1) impart financial and social value to threatened wildlife, and (2) generate economic benefits. Experts agree that project failure is most often tied directly to an insufficient understanding of each community’s unique capacities. What APW does – and what I believe is the biggest opportunity for other NGOs – is to make a crucial investment in building trust and mutual understanding on a social level. Once the region saw APW as a member of their own community, they became willing to contribute opinions, expertise and local leadership, thus fully participating in solutions that work for wildlife and for the community.

 

On a nighttime drive toward the end of my stay, we startled a young lion in the long, whispering grasses. He leapt to his feet as our Land Rover jostled to a stop, his belly full from a recent feast. We caught a glimpse of his wide eyes in the moonlight, glinting back at us, before he vanished into darkness.  Why does The Nature Conservancy partner with APW? Together, they and other partners can save the life of that wild lion, while still increasing social and economic benefits to pastoralists through wildlife conservation.

 

Last year, TNC and APW facilitated the creation of a village Resource Management Action Plan. This process helped community representatives prioritize natural resource interventions, and sparked the formation of a committee that will provide leadership and accountability as the plan is implemented. Their work will advance watershed protection, develop women’s business skills, and improve grazing area demarcation. APW and TNC are now supporting the committee and the village while they register as a formal government-recognized entity, in an ongoing collaboration to preserve the Steppe’s resources for generations to come.

Living Walls, Women’s Empowerment and HIV/AIDS Education

“Did you see me use the hammer?” asks one of the women we set out to empower and teach about HIV/AIDS during our first ever, all-women Living Wall installation event.

Given that HIV/AIDS is a problem across Tanzania and realizing that its more difficult for environmental conservation to be carried out by an unhealthy population, we are now bridging the gap between health and the environment through our Living Walls program. (Living Walls are environmentally-friendly livestock enclosures that keep cattle safe from lions and other large carnivores, thereby drastically reducing the number of retaliatory killings of big cats and other species.)

 

 

The August 18th event began with our Peace Corps Volunteer, Kelly Thayer, teaching community members about HIV transmission and protection, comparing the protection of their bodies with the protection of their animals. Lively debate and discussion about HIV culminated in everyone learning how to protect themselves from HIV, for example by practicing safe sex.

 

Next, the women took up hammers and nails and constructed a Living Wall by themselves (following a brief instruction by the head of our Living Wall installation team, Juma Nne). The men and women in attendance recognized that women can do anything they set their minds to, including protecting their animals from predators and themselves from HIV. As women are at higher risk for HIV transmission and are a powerful force behind community development, this lesson was one of the biggest take home messages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All were welcome to participate though some were shy at first. A young Maasai girl about 20 years of age was wandering by and entered the boma where the event was taking place. She was welcomed to join the ladies but was very reluctant to do so at first, hiding behind a tree. However, seeing the adult ladies discussing HIV helped her warm to the idea and in the end she sat with them and engaged in the conversation.

All the attendees left the event with a fistful of condoms, HIV knowledge, and the empowerment that comes with constructing a Living Wall.