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Out of Africa

April 22, 2015  |  Brent Liddle

brent ele 1This winter I escaped the cold in Yukon and headed straight to Africa, with a sixty degree Celsius increase in temperature. My assignment, with the World Elephant Centre near Serengeti, was to develop preliminary interpretive storylines on the conservation crisis facing the African Elephant.

This was a second stage to the work I had conducted previously which focused on developing a concept for the proposed visitor facility. The Kesho Trust continues to play a supporting role in this project. The interpretive materials I was preparing on this trip will be used in an initial facility and for traveling exhibits that promote the World Elephant Centre and explain the desperate need for conservation actions to protect this iconic species. Eventual permanent facilities will include an Interpretive Centre with exhibits, displays and audio visual media as well as a Research Station to monitor the migration movements of these animals and prevent human interference. Indeed, combining science, education and research is the ultimate goal of the World Elephant Centre.

brent ele 2 revDuring my field work I had the opportunity to experience these magnificent animals and photograph them at very close range. The World Elephant Centre is located in the midst of the northern park circuit in Tanzania so I manage to get to places like Tarangire, Manyara and Serengeti national parks and especially appreciated visiting friends who are managing the Lamai Camp in northern Serengeti, Nic Kershaw and Jana Arnhold.

For me, the Northern Serengeti bordering Kenya was particularly special, not only from a wildlife perspective but also the wonderful people I met who are equally committed to elephant conservation. I particularly remember the guide, Anaphi who accompanied me on a walking safari. He really added value to my experience by interpreting everything around us, from “ant lions“ to real lions!

brent ele 3 revIn the distance we could see several free roaming family herds of elephants …it is my sincere wish that all future generations can have such a wonderful experience such as this.

To quote Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania who wrote the famous Arusha Manifesto stated: “These wild creatures amidst the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration , but are an integral part of our future livelihood and well being.”  Never a truer word was spoken.

I’m now ” Out of Africa ” , back home in Yukon , where snow still stubbornly lingers , but my memories of a safari in Tanzania and encountering the largest land animal on Earth remain a highlight of my trip !

Brent Liddle
Haines Junction, Yukon

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Kihembe Dedication Ceremony

November 27, 2014  |  Peter Millanga

The village of Mkange supports the development of the Kihembe Environmental Learning Centre. They have dedicated land for its development and have now conducted a traditional dedication ceremony on the land preparing the way for facility development. Our staff member, Peter Millanga, was able to attend part of the ceremony on behalf of the Kesho Trust and SANA. He sends this brief description:

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I would like to share with you some updates regarding the traditional ceremony which happened yesterday (Nov 24). The ceremony started on Saturday evening with the making of a small banda, made of wood and thatches on top leaving an opening space underneath. It is where very early in the morning of Monday the wazee [elders] slaughtered the black sheep. In front of the banda they made a small hole where the head and skin of the sheep was buried. The rest of the meat was cooked on site and all the people who were in the site ate it with ugali meal made from the sorghum flour. The women cooked the meat and ugali. Approximately 60 people attended the ceremony on the Kihembe site (about 15 women, 30 men and 15 young men aging between 10-16).

After the wazee finished their activities on site, we then moved to the village to a house near the office for other people in the village to gather for lunch. Four women prepared a nice meal, rice and goat meat and over 200 people attended. 

The event went well and we are now free to begin working on the site.

Peter Millanga
Project Coordinator
Kesho Trust

the banda built on the Kihembe site as part of the traditional ceremony

the banda built on the Kihembe site as part of the traditional ceremony

the lead elder and the black sheep used in the ceremony

the lead elder and the black sheep used in the ceremony

Peter and the lead elder at the ceremony site

Peter and the lead elder at the ceremony site

 

 

 

 

elder participating in the ceremony

elder participating in the ceremony

 

leaders of the ceremony

leaders of the ceremony

 

villagers gathered at the site

villagers gathered at the site

villagers gathered at the site

villagers gathered at the site

Kihembe Fundraising Kickoff Event

November 4, 2014  |  by Bruce Downie

On November 1st we held the kickoff fundraising event for a campaign that will raise the funds necessary to construct the Kihembe Environmental Learning Centre in Mkange, Tanzania. Kihembe is our joint project with Saving Africa’s Nature [SANA] that is so important in building greater conservation awareness and in adopting livelihood strategies that can be sustainable with environmental protection.

audienceWe were thrilled to have a crowd of about 40 people join us at Baked on Saturday night to hear from a few presenters about the centre and the area. Our Kesho Trust volunteers are central to all our work and we really appreciated the contributions of our presenters for the evening.

vanessaVolunteers Vanessa Falle and Brook Mackenzie entertained with stories, video and slides from their recent trip to the Saadani area in August. They also created and presented some profiles of individuals from the villages in which the people expressed their challenges and appreciation for the support being provided through the Kesho Trust. Vanessa in cooperation with other local artisans has developed Kihembe bracelets for sale in support of the centre as well.

brentBrent Liddle presented the conceptual design for the centre he developed during his last visit to the site, discussing especially the intention to work towards the natural integrity of the site and the interpretive themes that will be central to the pubic messages at Kihembe. Brent is hoping to return this winter to assist in the implementation of site development. The presentations were very well received and people had interesting and engaging questions which sparked considerable discussion throughout the evening.

tableThe fundraising component of the event was also a success. Along with a few items to offer through silent auction, our Whitehorse supporters contributed a total of almost $1,000 as a start to the campaign. We appreciate the excellent support from the community evident not only in this event but through the volunteering support which has been so prominent from the Yukon. 12 Yukoners have gone to Tanzania to support our work – 7 of whom have worked in the Saadani area related to the Kihembe initiative. A number of questions during the event focused on how people can get more involved and we hope that this level of interest will see even more Yukoners contributing their time and talents to the development of Kihembe.

Fundraising will continue through our new Kihembe website [www.kihembe.org]. Donations can also be received through the SANA and Kesho Trust websites [see the logos and links below]. There are also Facebook pages for all three entities to create widespread awareness and support for the project. If you haven’t yet seen our Facebook pages, please visit through the links on the websites and ‘like’ those pages to stay in touch with developments as they progress.

We were very pleased to have the support of Baked who hosted the event, CAP Engineering who provided catering and those who donated items for the silent auction: Amy Ryder; Melissa Valja; Joella Hogan; and, Itsy Bitsy Yarn Store. Many Kesho Trust volunteers helped make the event a success and we extend our appreciation to: Karen Clyde, Vanessa Falle, Brooke Mackenzie, Brent Liddle, and Kelly Milner. Special thanks goes to volunteer Erica Heuer who developed all the promotional materials for the event including the poster which advertised the event, a handout for people attending and standing display panels. These materials will continue to be used for other events as the fundraising campaign progresses.

Our partnership on Kihembe:

KT logo 2007 standard transparent

sanalogo

Planning for a Volunteer with PALISEP

November 3, 2014  |  by Bruce K. Downie

I met with PALISEP representatives twice on my recent trip to Tanzania. The first meeting in Arusha with Samwel Nangiria and Robert Kamakia reviewed the requirements for volunteer support through the Kesho Trust that would be intended to build the capacity of the newly formed Forest Trust which has now been granted full responsibility for the management of the community forest by the Tanzania Department of Forestry. Setting up such an activity requires some careful consideration of the specific nature of the work in relationship to the capacity of the host organization. Realistic expectations are essential on both sides. Hosting an outsider in villages such as Enguserosambu comes with a number of logistical problems as well such as language [an interpreter is needed throughout the work period] and the very basic living conditions [water being an especially critical concern]. Samwel and Robert have always been very positive about the potential for such work to be very helpful in the community but they are also realistic about the capacity of the Forest Trust which, while made up of extremely competent people, is just beginning to work together as a body and currently lacks the confidence and independence it hopes to achieve in the future. They are also keen to ensure the logistics supporting the volunteer are addressed. They understand the needs of outside visitors relative to the challenging living conditions in the village.

In a follow up meeting in Dar es Salaam I was joined by our Project Officer, Peter Millanga and together we met with Robert and Saitoti Kitasho from PALISEP. Since the first meeting a specific terms of reference for the volunteer had been drafted and was tabled and discussed at the meeting. Since PALISEP is a supporting organization to the Forest Trust, they will now sit with the Trust members and review the details of the proposed work and its implications for the community and the Trust itself. It is expected that the assignment will be undertaken in March / April, 2015. Robert also outlined at this meeting PALISEP’s intention to host a planning meeting in mid November in Arusha that would consider future program initiatives and funding support for PALISEP. They are keen to have partners attend the workshop and so Peter plans to attend on behalf of the Kesho Trust.

palisep meeting picIn both meetings the status of the I-CAN project was discussed. As a research program including a study area of the Enguserosambu village area and based directly on our partnership with PALISEP, this program will be instrumental in providing support for the work of PALISEP and the Forest Trust. The project is just mobilizing now and the directions and local implications will become clearer over the next few months.

Another item discussed was an opportunity to present the land rights issues and success stories from Enguserosambu village. I will be attending the WPC and have been invited to participate in a discussion panel focused on pastoralist issues relating to land rights, climate change and other pressing concerns. With the support of PALISEP I will be able to take the experience of PALISEP and present it at the WPC creating more awareness of both the achievements and the ongoing struggles for control over the land and culture by the Maasai of Enguserosambu.

The meetings were productive and certainly advanced the proposed collaboration. There will certainly be more news coming from this partnership in the near future.

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