KWS makes plans to join in with celebrations to commemorate the First World War
From January 2014, Kenya Wildlife Service is partnering with communities living around Tsavo to tap into four-year global celebrations to mark World War One. Some of the sites earmarked for the fete include Tsavo West National Park and neighbouring community and private ranches in Taita Taveta, including Salaita, Kasigau and Taita.
Taita Taveta was the battle-ground for the Great War fought from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918 between the Germans and the British. The British forces built forts along Tsavo River to counter threats from invading German forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Paul Von Lettow Vorbeck from Tanganyika (now Tanzania). The German Forces intended to blow up the Tsavo River bridge, which was vital to British communication. Von Lettow Vorbeck’s war exploits have been described as “ the greatest single guerrilla operation in history, and the most successful”. He is the main character of The Ghosts of Africa, a 1980 historical novel by Anglo-Canadian novelist, William Stevenson.
The battleground sites are close to the caves used by the infamous man-eating lions that had earlier preyed on the builders of the Uganda Railway, also called ‘The Lunatic Line’. The pair of maneless lions stalked and killed at least 28 Indian and African workers in 1898, during the building of a bridge across the Tsavo River. The lions were eventually shot and killed by the bridge construction supervisor Col. John Henry Patterson, who had their skins made into rugs before selling them, some years later, to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois USA, for a sum of US$5000.
Honours wildlife sanctuary
Kenya’s Golden Jubilee independence celebrations this year have been boosted by UNESCO’s inclusion of Lewa Downs and the Ngare Ndare Forest as part of the Mount Kenya World Heritage Site. Lewa Downs, once a conventional cattle ranch owned and operated by the Craig family, has over the years turned itself into a pioneer of privately-owned conservancies. Lewa today is home to both eastern black and southern white rhinos but also provides a habitat for at least another 70 mammals and over 440 bird species, some of them endemic.
Maasai cricket warriors join anti-poaching war
A group of Maasai warriors are raising awareness on rhino conservation. The Maasai Cricket Warriors, famous for using the sport to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS and women’s issues while acting as role models in the community, have now ventured into the fight against poaching. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy recently hosted the warriors, who played a match against the Ambassadors of Cricket from India in an event to raise awareness of rhino poaching. The warriors’ bowling was as effortless as if they were throwing traditional spears.