By Stephen Melubo – Monitoring & Evaluation Officer, Amboseli – stephen.m[at]bornfree.or.ke
Tipango ole Sakimpa, a pastoralist from the Maasai community in Mbirikani Group Ranch in the Amboseli ecosystem, is a happy man yet again.
In 2011, Born Free helped Tipango and his friend Maen Kutata construct a predator-proof boma. Despite having the wooden posts having been treated against termites, the indefatigable insects chewed them and then were further weakened by livestock’s urine. Three years later, almost 90% of the wooden posts had fallen and they started losing livestock again, forcing all in the homestead to spend sleepless nights guarding them against lions and hyenas.
In our ongoing monitoring and evaluation efforts of the predator-proof bomas, we approached the co-owners with an offer to replace the weakened wooden posts with recycled plastic posts. Having noted the effect of termites on wooden posts overtime, Born Free made the decision to use plastic posts as they are termite-proof and are also made from recycled plastic, one of the major menaces for the environment in Kenya.
As per the co-sharing agreement between the beneficiaries and Born Free Kenya, the former must contribute 25% for construction costs while the latter takes up the rest. This also applies for repairs such as replacement of posts.
Between 2011 and 2013, we constructed 143 bomas with wooden posts. Once we noted the need to replace these posts, we embarked on boma-to-boma campaign to convince the beneficiaries from replacing the damaged posts with indigenous trees poles as a desperate measure to protect their livestock at night. However, cutting down indigenous trees is a further threat to an already fragile ecosystem. So far, we have managed to repair only seven due to slow uptake by the community as their only livelihood – pastoralism – has been negatively impacted by severe drought.
I recently visited Tipango to assess the fortified boma which was repaired mid-2015 and he had this to say.
“I was thinking nothing can prevent lions from getting inside the boma to attack my livestock. Before the replacement with plastic posts two and half years ago, lions and hyenas were crossing over the fallen wooden posts and killing our livestock. I really appreciate Born Free for coming to our rescue again. Now we are back to normal sleeping hours at night, the plastic posts have fortified the boma and provided security for our livestock at night. We are also happy that our families are also secure within the homestead, thanks to Born Free!"
There remain 136 bomas that need repairs, some of them urgently, as they are only predator-proof by name. You can help us do this by getting involved and in turn protecting lions and other carnivores in Amboseli.