Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Letter from the Heart of Tsavo: Part Two

More from Chris Hartridge, a volunteer on GVI’s Construction and Sustainable Development project in Tsavo West...

After working on the construction project for almost two weeks, a few of us went on safari for several days and had the opportunity to see exactly why our contribution was so important.
Kenya is a country that recognizes the value of its natural resources and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) works very hard to promote education and training on protecting and preserving wildlife. Kenya Wildlife Service recognizes that Kenya’s tourist industry would rapidly decline if there were no more animals to see on safaris. The Kenyan tourist industry makes a significant contribution to Kenya’s GDP and the economic status of the country.

Elephants in Tsavo

I thought a lot about the contribution Kenya’s wildlife makes to the development of the country when we drove for days looking for the ‘Big 5’ animals. Our safari guide said the animals use to be everywhere just 10 years earlier and they have become fewer and fewer.But we already knew this from the project when had just worked on. But you don’t really get it until you see it. On safari we ‘got it’. There was a sense of how fragile it all was, nature hanging in a balance.
To understand this:Approx 2000 lions are left in the whole of Kenya. Every time one lion is killed forANY reason it costs the economy/people of Kenya 1 million US dollars per year in tourist revenue! That's just 1 lion! Consider if you dare ALL the animals that go missing. For some reason the story Sara (a staff member at GVI) told us about 200 dik diks being poached by one man each year sticks in my mind….

As I drove around in the safari truck standing up in the back looking at the endless beauty of the Amboseli and Tsavo horizons for 4 days I got it! I understood the urgency and determination of the project we just helped complete on so many levels; the villager’s basic survival and the ability for its families to thrive just like anyone else who wants a good education for their children, clean water and security in their lives.

Lioness on safari

Zebra on the Border of Tsavo West National Park

GVI and all of us who participate in any of the programs are helping to give alternatives to very good and deserving people; to raise awareness and bring viable concrete solutions by the commitment of a lot good folks. We worked hard but I’m telling you the people in the Kidong community worked dawn to dusk in a way that I will remember the rest of my life.Profound thanks to GVI’s Sara, Gibby, Joseph, Emmanuel, Miriam, and Matilda for the time of my life…which is… just beginning.

Chris Hartridge