Monday, November 24, 2008
The Ewaso Ngiro river flows into the Rift Valley from the Mau escarpment, eventually reaching Lake Natron at the Kenya/Tanzania border. It reaches the lake only when the rains are plentiful. The river finishes in a swamp near the Shompole mountain. Lucky for the group ranch, because this is where we get the bullrush to construct the roof of the lodge.
It is a major operation. Villagers from Shompole are employed to cut the reeds, it is then transported to the river banks opposite the lodge, from where it is carried across the river for final use on the roof by the women. The women are experts at their job. Not a man’s work in the world of the Masai!
The reeds are then soaked in the river before being carried to the roof for fitting in place when wet. It makes a great roof.
Only a kilometer away from Loisiijo Lodge there is a research camp studying Striped hyena. The research was set up several years ago by Aaron Wagner of Michigan State University (USA). Aaron has been studying Striped hyena for many years & I believe that his project is the only long term study of this animal.
Very little is known about the Striped Hyena which is very elusive and difficult to see, study or photograph…… Except in the Shompole area of Kenya. Kenya and Egypt are the only two countries with populations of over 1000 individuals (which accounts for 51% of the maximum african population estimate and 82% of the minimum estimate).
Working in collaboration with the Hyena program, we want to try to offer a better insight into this little known animal. Our aim is to set up a foster parent program which will enable a visitor staying at the lodge to go out at night with the researcher while he is working, and learn more about hyenas. The lodge and the researchers will offer a follow up via email.
Friday, November 21, 2008
African Conservation Centre is not only involved in community projects. They are also helping Kenya Wildlife Service to monitor wildlife migration.
Here in Shompole they finance and monitor an elephant project. Yesterday a major operation was mounted to put a satellite collar on one of the Shompole Sanctuary elephants. Through this sophistacated devise they will know more about the movements of the local elephants and will be able to make sure that their migration routes are not obstructed. Currently we know that they move about the Nguruman escarpment into the Loita hills and forest, but not much else.
The ground team from both KWS and ACC was equipped with a helicopter, a fixed wing aircraft and several vets.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A screen or separation inside the Masai hut is made traditionally by the Masai women (as is the entire hut). The women will go into the bush and select long thin sticks which will be woven together and is called ‘Olorosai’ in Maa language.
We have used a lot of these woven screens in the building of the lodge as window shutters and doors. The ‘Olorosai’ are made for us by the local Masai women thus allowing them to generated some direct income for their work.