Plains game and Masai livestock are relatively compatible in Kitengela and other East African pastoral lands (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).
The non-governmental ‘Friends of Nairobi National Park’ organization report the following story this month about a ground count of the wild mammals inhabiting the rangelands an hour’s drive from Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, rangelands that not only maintain Maasai herds of cattle, sheep and goats, but also serve as the annual calving grounds of wildebeest from the Park. The Masai landowners here are keen to find ways to sustain both their livestock livelihoods and their wildlife resources, both of which are threatened by Kenya’s fast-expanding population and development. Counting what wildlife remains gives them a basis on which to plan the future of these traditional Masai lands.
‘. . . A greater ecosystem game count . . . started about a week ago with the Nairobi National Park game count; . . . preparations are now underway for the last two sections of the wet season counts i.e. Kitengela, Isinya and Kipeto ground counts (1st, 2nd and 3rd Triangles respectively).
‘With technical support from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which has provided the equipments to be used for the whole exercise, including GPSs [global positioning systsms], range finders [binoculars], maps, and compasses, training for the Kitengela and Isinya ground counts kicked off early on [14 June], with Shem Kifugo of ILRI providing his expertise and leading the training for the enumerators who are community members. [We at] ‘Friends of Nairobi National Park’ . . . realize that we have a big role to play in influencing decisions that are made in relation to the park and the greater ecosystem, and thus there is need for us to back our reasoning with sound scientific evidence. It is for this very reason that the training had to be undertaken and the counting will be done in a systematic manner using sound scientific procedures.
‘The first day of the training for the 25 enumerators for the 1st two triangles was indeed intensive, and the sheep and goat land in the Kitengela was turned into a classroom, where the students were given practical lessons on handling and using the GPSs, reading maps, using rangefinders and compasses and filling in data sheets as well as the actual game counting and recording.
‘More than half of the enumerators under training were taking a refresher course, as they had undergone training on the same several times with ILRI. Some had participated in the counts in 2004 and others had participated in the fence mapping exercise recently carried out by ILRI. This made work easier for Shem, as those who already had the knowledge of the use of the equipment assisted the newcomers and formed part of the training team. Shem says this is the best approach, as people tend to understand their peers faster than when a person from outside tries to explain things. Some of the members of this team will be used for the training in Kipeto, where the enumerators have not had previous training and/or experience in game counting. . . .’
The game counting started on 18 June and ran for 10 days in Kitengela and 12 days in Isinya. All the data collected was given to ILRI scientists, who will enter the into their computer models and run analyses. The researchers will then make a report and provide it and the results to these Kajiado communities doing the game counts.
Read the whole article on the Friends of Nairobi National Park website: Kitengela ground count training kicks off on high note, 16 June 2011.