30 June 2011

Embirika Nursery School Opening

On June 11th Olkiramatian officially opened the newly built Embirika Nursery School. This one classroom building was funded by CDF Kajiado North and currently hosts 3 grades include a Baby class (2-3 years) Nursery class (3-4 years) and Pre-unit class (4-6), catering to a total of 38 students. It is a wonderful accomplishment for the area, helping children who would have had to walk up to an additional 10 kilometers in order to access these classes at other facilities.
A number of people gathered for the occasion including the Assistant chief of Olkiramatian, the Group Ranch Chairman, and many educational leaders in the area. Lale’enok’s own Albert Kuseyo is the Chairman of the Embirika Pre-School and representatives from Lale’enok appreciated Albert’s dedication by presenting some new books for the school.

16 May 2011

Wednesday May 11th marked an important meeting in a series of community meetings taking place at Olorgesailie with the agenda of initiating the establishment of conservation and education programs around the Olorgesailie and Kwenia region. Lead by SORALO coordinator John Kamanga the meeting brought together representatives from The National Museums of Kenya, African Conservation Center, and researchers from the Lale’enok center to share and discuss with leaders and important community members from all areas of the Group Ranch. The rains did not slow down the liveliness of the meeting with lots of good questions presented and progressive discussion. A notably inspirational moment was when one of the Mamas got up in front of all the leaders and reminded them of the role woman want to play in the development of the region and by putting money into the hands of the woman you will see progressive change on a community level. Met with applause and enthusiasm there are plans in the development proposal to create a cultural center that will support woman’s initiatives in the area.

Rarely will such an opportunity arise where we can take a look back over hundreds of thousands of years at a landscape so key to human and wildlife origins, while simultaneously investigating that same relationship and how it plays out on that same landscape today. In addition, the area is also vital to the conservation of large connecting landscapes, which host vulnerable populations of rare species such as the Ruppell’s Griffon vulture, elephants, and wild dogs. The meeting marked a positive step in a long road towards bringing together all agendas in the region and the Lale’enok team came away from the meeting enthusiastic and inspired to be a part of the new possibilities the region presents.
The month of May has brought with it huge rain storms and ample game spotting, creating exciting opportunities for research and a sigh of relief from all of us and the community at large. It is just about possible to watch the grass grow and our ecosystem monitoring team has been working hard to capture the changes across the landscape. Game appears to be recovering exceptionally well from the drought as our last set of transects revealed high numbers of new young within the zebra, wildebeest, and giraffe herds. We have also been lucky enough to locate some of our resident lions, finding a kill and recording their movements as the rains change the herbivore distributions. A few notable sights from this week include running into a pair of Honey Badgers one evening, as well as getting some quality time with an older male elephant as he grazed through the new plant growth.

The center has also recently acquired a motorcycle to increase mobility and aid in carrying out research in some areas. It has been a source of entertainment at camp this month teaching everyone to ride, and of course deciding what colour helmet you look best in! Albert was even able to strap on the pin frame to zoom off to count all the new grass sprouting up!

26 March 2011

Community Scout Training

March 22nd marked the official launch of the very first African Conservation Center Community Scout Training Program. The six week program is being held at the Lale’enok center, housing 35 scouts based in areas ranging from Mount Susua, Siana – Mara, Rombo – Oloitoktok, and our own Conservancy’s Group Ranches Shompole and Olkirimatian. The course is an intensive program in discipline, wildlife management, and team building. From 5am fitness training to lectures from KWS officials the course provides a wide range of exposure and skill building necessary for each of the men to be leaders upon returning to their respective conservancies. The course not only provides a standard of excellence in conservancy management for across the country but is an opportunity for members from different conservancies to meet and discuss the wide range of issues that affect many areas in Kenya. It has been a refreshing change of pace at camp and we are excited to host the team for the next 6 weeks!

07 March 2011

Lale'enok is formally open! A glorious event where over 70 VIPs from across Kenya as well as over 150 local community members were present to witness Mr. Jaco Mebius, the Senior Policy Adviser for Environment, Water and Sanitation to the Royal Netherlands Embassy, officially open the centre. Representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of State for National Heritage and Culture, the National Museums of Kenya, the newly formed Taskforce for drafting the Legislation Implementing Land Use, Environment and Natural Resource Provisions of the Kenya Constitution were all present and the feedback was extremely positive from all fronts. The press, who were present in full force, have done a great job with publicising the event on local TV stations over the past few days. What seems to be the main take-home message from the day was the relevance of the centre from so many angles; from what the new constitution stands for (devolution of
responsibility and ownership to the community level) to biodiversity conservation efforts built on an evidence-based approach, local capacity development, support of local women's enterprise and much more..... Lale'enok's community-based philosophies stole the day.

28 February 2011


On March 4th 2011 the Resource Center will official open the beautiful new buildings as Lale’enok. The new name comes from a Maasai herding term where they send out scouts to survey the grazing and water points in the area and then come back to report where to take the cattle and what areas are currently safe. It is a similar the role the community has in store for the new Resource Center. It will be a hub for all the research and information collected by local and international researchers alike, and be a place where that information can then be distributed, discussed, and applied appropriately for future planning. We are looking forward to hosting over 300 people next Friday from International V.I.Ps to important community members and everyone who has been with us along the way.

The buildings have already been put to good use with the arrival of the two student groups the women had their first opportunity to use their new banda as a welcoming area and a place to sell their beadwork. What a successful opening it was, with the Chairlady and the committee there to welcome everyone. There were many members of the women’s group who showed up with their unique handiwork and beautiful shukas and kangas and it was an exciting mix of cultures for the students to interact with the woman and pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

Maji Maji (and more) Maji!

February has turned into a very prosperous month! Everything started off very dry as we were well into the dry season and the usual migrations down to the swamp grazing were well under way. However, by the middle of the month we had 5 days straight of rain receiving up to 36mm a night and instantly turning the arid landscape into a sea of tiny green shoots. It is an amazing transformation to watch and a shift you can feel as you drive through the Maasai settlements where relaxed and cheerful moods have settled upon us all as we watch the grass grow. Even the wildlife is responding with sightings of new baby zebra, impala, and even wildebeest across the area. This is the first sighting of wildebeest calving since the 2009 drought and it is a positive sign towards the recovery of populations.

It is not just rain from the sky that is cause for delight, but camp now officially has running water from taps! The days of buckets showers are over and though some of us will reminisce the old days it is certainly an exciting progression for the center. All this water has created both a beautiful and functional facility to welcome our two returning University Groups. The first is the Canadian Field Studies in Africa Program from the University of McGill in Montreal Canada. The group spent 3 nights at the center talking with elders and community leaders on issues ranging from land tenure and subdivision to conservancy arrangements and livestock issues. They were even lucky enough to overlap with a visit from David Western who gave a lecture on the history of conservation in Kenya and how this area fits into the larger picture of ecosystem management

The group visited the shambas in Nguruman, took a drive to see the flamingos in Lake Magadi, and learnt tracking techniques from our carnivore researchers. Overlapping with their departure we had our second University team come through from Sweden. Interested more specifically with cattle behaviour and interactions with the wildlife the Swedish team spent half their days walking with cattle and learning about local herding practises while using the other half of the day to visit the conservancy and learn about tracking techniques. They were even lucky enough to see 2 male cheetahs just outside of camp! It has been a busy time at camp and a wonderful experience to have visitors using the new center. We are thankful for all the support and enthusiasm!