More than 10% of Kenya’s land area are nature reserves: Amboseli National Park is located in southwestern Kenya, on the border with Tanzania. It is important to protect its endless savannahs with their exotic wildlife, so that the last of the great African wild animals can survive in the wild. The environmental organization “Big Life” has been fighting together with the local communities against the poaching in the park for many years .

The Big Life Foundation seeks to protect over 1.6 million hectares. It employs hundreds of local Maasai Rangers with more than 30 permanent outposts and field units, 13 patrol vehicles, three tracking dogs and two airplanes for aerial surveillance.

By Martyn Smith [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/2.0/)] via flickr

Since 2011, Big Life uses tracking dogs to track down poachers, their weapons and their traps. Head of the dog squad is today’s animal rights activist Mutinda Ndivo: before he began his duties as a ranger, he was a dreaded poacher himself, until he was persuaded to change sides. Because of his past, he knows the doings and the ways of the poachers very well. However, due to the size of the application area that stretches across Kenya and Tanzania, it is impossible to position rangers everywhere.

By Amoghavarsha JS amoghavarsha.com [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

The goal of most poachers is the elephant and its tusks made of precious ivory: as the demand has exploded, especially in China, the hunt for the hefty animals will not stop quickly. The only thing that can scare off the poachers are sanctions such as imprisonment.

Mutinda Ndivo himself is often in action with his experienced dog. The tracking dogs’ accuracy is very high and feared by poachers, especially by locals that are involved in the crime, and most of them don’t understand how they can still be faced up to 72 hours after the unobserved act.

 

By gin (CC0 Creative Commons) via pixabay

The owners of the surrounding land of the Amboseli National Park are the already mentioned Maasai, who try to protect nature outside the park also: for example the Laikipia Plateau, a privately organized conservation area in which humans and animals live together.

The Maasai are an East African ethnic group in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, characterized by their semi-nomadic way of life, striking clothing and their residential area close to the national parks. Simon Kenjaga is their “clan chief”.

By Martyn Smith [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons. org/ licenses/by/2.0/)] via flickr

The Maasai rangers are considered to be the best game wardens in the country because of their knowledge of nature and their rapid perception: Kenjagi and his men are constantly on the move to protect the animals, that they used to hunt, from poachers today. The proud Maasai are known for clinging to old lifestyles, but in animal protection they are way ahead of many other folks. Although they live in the simplest conditions, they work with the latest technology such as walkie-talkies.

Some of Kenya’s men live “in the bush” for two weeks and wait, and of course that’s dangerous. The Maasai’s clan chief says that it is very dangerous to be outside especially after sunset – because of the buffaloes, elephants and lions. Men have already died from animal attacks. Nevertheless, the Maasai do everything to protect the well-being of their people and their paradisiac living space.