Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Climate Change in Amboseli: An Elder’s View

2 November 2017

Categories: Homepage News, Kenya News

As narrated by Elder Ole Dokolo to Stephen Melubo – Monitoring & Evaluation Officer – stephen.m[at]bornfree.or.ke

Everything has totally changed!

I was born in Amboseli and have lived all my 97 years here. Decades back, long before Mount Kilimanjaro lost its white crown, this area used to have plenty of grass for our livestock.  The four main rivers in the ecosystem - Kimana, Isinet, Nolturesh and Kikaragot – flowed continuously and had sufficient water for us all.  People, livestock and wildlife.

Today, I don’t know where all that has gone! There is no grass, no water in the rivers, and Mount Kilimanjaro has lost its crowning glory. I think God who gifted us all this is not happy with us. Everything has changed, my grandson. Everything! Those morans I hunted lions with while growing up are no more. The beautiful Maasai women we sang and danced with are no more. Gone, they are!

In the yesteryears, we used to receive rain around mid-September to mid-October. These days the rains come very late after our livestock have died from severe drought. The rainy season is also too short and unpredictable. Droughts have become more frequent and prolonged.

When I was growing up, I used to watch my father look up at the skies and the moon in the night and predict that it would rain. And that is exactly what would happen. We would receive heavy rain complete with thunder.  Today, thunderstorms are rare. And old men like me cannot predict the rain patterns. It’s quite frustrating, to say the least.

I am still shocked that all the pasture is finished in this area to an extent of making us migrate to Tsavo and even cross the international border into Tanzania. Before, we used to move with our livestock in search of water and pasture within the Amboseli ecosystem.  As we speak, all my livestock, my precious wealth is now in Tanzania as Amboseli is bare and dry. I have not seen my livestock in months… it’s depressing!

The rivers that used to give us water, all have dried up.  Olpakaai, the wetland located at the foothills of Chyulu Hills and where those dried up rivers drained their waters, is no more. Even the crocodiles that lived there either died or were forced to relocate due to lack of water. I have seen some wild animal species decline in numbers too. There were more elephants before than there are today.  Such droughts have killed off the older elephants and calves.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. I don’t know what will happen to you, the younger generation. 

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