Loita Forest, located in Narok county, is approximately 150 kilometres away from Narok town but due to the unpaved road, it takes hours to get there. The Loita forest covers 33.000 hectares and is one of the last truly indigenous forests in Kenya. It is home to numerous predators, elephants, hippos, buffalo’s and other wildlife. But the wildlife population decreased in this area since 1975 when poaching increased enormously. The Rhino population even extinct in here within three years from 1975.
Mara Loita Rangers
This was the reason for Alfred Oseur Kipelian to start the Mara Loita Community Rangers (MLCR). With his NGO, he is protecting the wildlife in Loita Forest from poachers. Besides, he is protecting the forest against forest loggers. He found a team of seven rangers who are patrolling the whole area of Loita Forest. Four days per week they are moving from one camp to another with portable tents to monitor the area. They are walking for days, cross mountains, face dangerous animals and slippery slopes and live completely back to basic in order to track and report poachers and forest loggers.
Community & results
Besides patrolling, they inform the community about the importance of reporting poachers and forest loggers. So they are an extra eye for the rangers.
So far, the MLCR have arrested several poachers and forest loggers. This resulted in a significant reduction in environmental criminals and the number of elephants killed each month. They will continue to fight for animal rights and to conserve the environment. But they can’t do it alone.
To get a good picture of the work of MLCR and to film this, Alfred asked us to join their patrol in the forests of Loita for a few days. After hours of driving on muddy, unpaved roads, an hour's walk in the dark and through a river, we arrived at the "base camp". Here, we stayed a night before the journey in the forest of Loita started. No mattress, toilet, shower, electricity or network. It quickly became clear to us that we were going back to basic, really back to basic.
We have walked 20 kilometers every day through the densely forested mountains of Loita with our backpacks and the rangers. The days started early with a cup of tea before we started our long journey for that day. In the afternoon we had a short break to eat a peanut butter sandwich. At the end of the afternoon we arrived in the next camp where we installed our tent and sat by the campfire, made by the rangers They did this to keep us warm, to cook but also to keep the wild animals away from the camp at night.
It was a tough journey through the rain, we were attacked by stinging plants and trees. Were completely disconnected from the outside world. Were startled by lions and elephants and enjoyed monkeys swinging from tree to tree during our hikes. After five days without any form of luxury and about 80 km of walking, we could look forward to a water resistant roof, a well-deserved shower and a bed. We can say that this was a special and tough journey. But as real Robinsons, we have survived this expedition.
What do they need?
At first, they need more rangers to protect the whole area of Loita forest. With more rangers, they can monitor the area in a better way which hopefully lead to less poachers and deforestation.
Donations and Equipment
If they want to add more rangers, more money is needed to pay their minimum wages. In addition, money is needed to purchase (better) equipment such as binoculars, communication equipment and other items to work properly. This equipment could also be donated to the MLCR.