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CONSERVATION INACTION
March 2016 IssueNo. 6
Livesof Laikipia
Michael Dyer
We askedMichael to tell us a tale from one of hismany adventures
around theworld and here’swhat he said:
“I lostmywatch once sliding down sand dunes inKenya’sTana
Delta region. I never thought that Iwould ever see that watch again.
I even left instructionswith the owner of the lodgewherewewere
staying. I askedhim to please letme know if anyone found it. Of
course i knew therewas a remote chance that Iwould ever see that
watch again. 3 years later as Iwas dropping offmy kids at school, a
student at the school walkedup tomeholding a brown envelope and
ever so casually said “I have a present for you” andhandedme the
envelope.And there right insidewasmywatch! I couldn’t believe it. I
gavehim thenewwatch that I had recently bought - can you imagine
he foundmywatchwhile sliding down the same sand dunes? It was
unbelievable!”
F
or years, the Mpala
Research Centre (MRC)
and LWF have worked
together on conservation and
rangeland issues in Laikipia. But
over time, the connection between
the two organisations has become
weakened as the relationship
became less defined.
That’s now changing. Through
each organisation’s new directors,
the future looks better for applied
research, citizen science and public
information about research projects
important toLaikipia.
Director of the MRC, Dr. Dino
Martins, and Peter Hetz, LWF
Executive Director, recently met
to discuss how to strengthen their
collaboration. MRC hosts a number
of recent and long-term research
projects that are not well known to
LWFmembership.Yet the results of
some of the research work can help
management decision-making in
Laikipia.
Recent cooperation has focused
on “TICK” Day - the presentation
to farmers and communities of the
results of tick research being done
inLaikipia.  The costs related to tick
control and tick diseases have a big
impact on the people of Laikipia.
LWFandMRC toSponsorAerial SampleSurveyof Wildlife
There will be more accessible
informationon the results of the tick
study as results emerge.
More recently, the collaboration
extended to theGreatGrevy’sRally,
where scientists at MRC made
cameras and software available to
help with the great rally to identify
and count the endangered Grevy’s
Zebras in Kenya. MRC and LWF
were partners on this big event. 
LWF and MRC will soon jointly
sponsor an aerial sample survey of
wildlife, livestock, land types and
settlements in Laikipia, Lerogi, and
Lewa. Working with NRT, we will
extend the survey work into NRT
conservancies in Isiolo, Marsabit
and Samburu Counties. The aerial
count will be conducted with the
GOK, and takes place in earlyApril
2016. The results of the surveywill
besharedwith thepublic inefforts to
helpwithwildlife conservation, and
livestock/rangelands management.
The last survey was conducted in
2012. 
“I see the future of Mpala
Research Centre to be the focus of
all types of research that are needed
in Laikipia,” says Dr. Martins. “We
take this role very seriously, as it’s
called for in theKenyaConstitution.
We are an important source of
information for the public and the
County. We must support all forms
of information that contribute
to improvements in our social,
economic, and natural systems. We
see the role of LWF in helping us to
identify these research topics, and to
help in popularising the progress of
these projects and their results.”
“As we move forward, watch for
more collaboration between us on
social, economic and ecological
research that affects our members
in Laikipia!” says, Peter Hetz. LWF
andMRCwill soon host a series of
meetings to discuss these research
priorities - with ranches in March,
with community groups in April,
and with Government authorities
in May. Stay tuned for more
information on locations and dates. 
“Aswemove forward,
watch formore
collaboration betweenus
on social, economic and
ecological research that
affects ourmembers in
Laikipia!”
A
frican
Wildlife
Foundation’s Sustainable
Opportunities
for
Improving Livelihoods (SOIL)
program, which has been embedded
as part of the Foundation’s Kenya
programming in the Samburu
landscape for thepast twoyears, has
beenavery interestingandhands-on
intervention.
Based on 24 months of
implementation, AWF believes that
SOIL’seffortstoorganisefarmersand
pastoralists, by improving technical
support to them and exploring
alternative market opportunities for
them, was key in improving their
lives. SOIL is designed to conserve
forest resources, including carbon.
Armed with several years of data
and analysis, the players were able
to hone in on specific macro-zones
to address, hectare by hectare, how
land isperceived,usedandmanaged.
ParticipatoryMicro-ZoningReducesThreats toForests
These forests are essential to
ensuring
biodiversity
because
they connect with protected
forest blocks that are normally
demarcated
as
non-permanent
forest. Non-permanent forest tends
to be degraded and damaged due to
agriculture and other commercial
activities. Formalized voluntary
agreements were introduced with
local communities. These created
explicit
associations
between
voluntarilygivingupcertainareasof
forest designated for conservation,
in return for support for agricultural
investment in other areas.AWF also
led participatory micro-zoning and
delivered livelihood programs for
more than 5,000 households in 27
villages around the Kirisia/Lerroghi
forest. With AWF’s facilitation,
these community members have
joined with local authorities to
execute fine-scale and hands-on
mappinganddatacollection inorder
tounderstand,discussandultimately
designate land appropriately.
Eventually, 91,944 hectares were
designated as permanent forest and
18,319 hectares as non-permanent
forest. The agreement that outlines
the zones has been validated by
county government authorities
in an effort to institutionalize the
process. It has not been signed
yet but activities proposed in
the plan are being implemented.
Currently all partners and players
are working with both local and
national government to formalize
and
disseminate
operational
guides. They hope to develop
communication strategies which
will continue to refine and promote
zoning methodologies. This will
help to prioritize and conserve
important forest areas while still
creating the space and means to
help rural poor people improve their
quality of life.
M
ichaelDyer is a thirdgeneration
Kenyan, born in Laikipia in
1961. Having completed his education
inEngland andScotland, heworked as a
cowboy inMontanaandAustraliabefore
returning to take over Borana one of the
family properties.
Borana in 1984 was a traditional
cattle and sheep ranch, but Michael
soon set about rehabilitating the ranch
and adjacent wilderness to the pristine
and viable eco-system that it is today.
Working closely with the Craig family
on the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, he
playedan instrumental role indeveloping
the awardwinning IlN’gwesiGroup
Ranch. This has been such a huge
conservation success that it has been
replicated across Northern Kenya under
the auspices of the Northern Rangeland
Trust.
A founder member of the Laikipia
Wildlife Forum, this innovative and
creative approach to wildlife and
ecosystem management has seen year
by year increases in landscape set aside
for conservation, with recent large
mammal counts showing in excess of
5,500 elephants in the Laikipia – Ewaso
Ecosystem.
It is within this wilderness that
Michael and his wife Nicky developed
Borana Lodge and Laragai House, the
bases for their exciting and adventurous
riding safaris. Michael is a keen polo
player, twice making the national team.
He is alsoapilotwithover 4000hoursof
bush flying. Michael and Nicky’s work
in conservation and humanitarian issues
was globally recognisedwhen theywon
theVirginAtlantic ResponsibleTourism
Award for Poverty Alleviation in 2007.
).
SOIL is designed
to conserve forest
resources, including
carbon.
1,2,3,4,5,6 8
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