Soysambu Conservancy: Livestock as an aid to Conservation

Written by Zurijanne Kelley, Soysambu Volunteer

On just a casual drive around Soysambu you cannot help but see various herds of cattle with lowered heads slowly ambling along. These indigenous creatures of Kenya come in various hues of white, brown and black, and number just under six thousand across the entire range of Soysambu and Delamere estates.
Prize Boran
Initially when Lord Delamere began his livestock enterprise he attempted to use species of cattle which were non-native to Kenya to no avail. After some time he looked at the resources available to him in the neighboring Somalia and had 600 Boran cattle brought to his estate. With the distinctive hump on their backs at the shoulders, Boran cattle are the pride and joy of Delamere estates. They survive on dry matter (their only source of subsistence is grass) which is more than enough for these large creatures whose coat shine at all times of the day.
male #1
Three types of cattle are bred here: pure bred, foundation and pedigree. The pride that the employees who work directly with the livestock have here is evident and exceptionally so with the cattle. Delamere estates participates in breeders’ competitions and rightly so with such a fine lot!
male #2
These beautiful creatures assist with conservation practices by supplying the conservancy with some funding through the sale and purchase of meat and dairy products as both cattle and wildlife share Soysambu and Delamere estates together (often you can see zebra mixed in with the cattle herds!) So if you’re coming to Soysambu don’t forget to take a picture of the Boran cattle also. They are worth it!

Top Picture: 15 year old cow with the latest of a string of twelve calves over the years. This prized female is pure bred and even donated some of her embryo to South Africa.

Middle Picture: A young 2 1/2 year old stud bull. Pure bred, this stud was entered into a Breeders competition in June 2009.

Bottom Picture: A second young stud bull of 2 1/2 years who was also entered into the June 2009 Breeder’s competition.

Soysambu Conservancy A Reason for Celebrating

Written by Zurijanne Kelley, Soysambu Volunteer

There was great reason to celebrate Friday(Dec 18) afternoon. For at the moment I arrived the last pipe was being placed into the borehole at Melia. In total there are 9 boreholes across Soysambu conservancy which are all being utilized now to supply water to livestock and wildlife (see Soysambu’s Fight to Supply Water). Melia, in particular, supplies 1200 cows, 1000 goats, a community of several Soysambu employees and their families plus a host of wildlife. I watched as the workers toiled to drop the last pipe, the perspiration visible on their faces. Many fingers were crossed and inwardly you could tell everyone was wondering “Are the pipes low enough to reach the water source hidden below?”
Delamere employee
As I’d just learned that day Melia had been without water the past week so the success of this venture was highly anticipated. As some tightened the pipes after having used a simple mechanical contraption, well over my 23 years, to put the pipes down others prepared the wires for the moment of truth. Soon you could hear the engine crank up that would pull the water from the depths below. Hoping hands covered the front of the pipe willing the water to come up. The silence was thorough as even the weaver birds in the tree nearby were quiet waiting; their ears also straining for the first sound of water…..Nothing.
Borehole machine
While I did not understand what the workers were saying at the time, I was told they were going to switch the wires. A simple electrical mistake was all….They hoped. Again the machine was started and again hands pressed against the front of the pipe. Everyone had eyes fixed on where the water would come from. One minute then two minutes passed…At the moment when some of us began to feel unspoken doubt, water! It gushed forth like an early Christmas present and cheers of joy resounded through the site. I am glad I had the opportunity to share in this moment of jubilation with citizens of Kenya, and look forward to having many more!

Soysambu Conservancy’s fight to supply water during drought

Written by Zurijanne Kelley, Soysambu Volunteer

Perhaps you didn’t know that Kenya has been experiencing a drought for the past two years, and that key ecosystems have begun to feel the effects of this prolonged condition especially at Soysambu Conservancy. Surrounded by communities and roads on almost every side, Soysambu has become a safe haven for many wildlife species who have been driven inward by human development. However, with the species has come the need to supply ample drinking water in lieu of their numbers.

The largest water tank at Soysambu is over 30 years old and was created just for this purpose: to supply water to various troughs throughout the property for thirsty wildlife. Unfortunately, this life sustaining source is running on empty. The enduring lack of rains has resulted in the drying up of two rivers since April 2009, Mereroni and Mbaruk, which originally supplied our dam and then utilized gravity to bring the water to our tank. This tank is the only reservoir for the Conservancy to store water for wildlife.
Water trough
Empty water troughs litter the Conservancy land, and for many who work and visit here it is an unbearable sight. Even Lake Elementaita has receded several hundred meters from the shoreline and is only a fraction of her former self. To combat this particular issue it has been decided (rather much needed) that the current and broken 25 year old submersible pump at Melia borehole needs to be replaced. This pump would utilize this particular borehole located on Soysambu Conservancy property to supply water to the troughs in the Melia area.

Broken pipeLake ElementaitaWater tank

Left Picture: Two Soysambu employees display the broken water pump of more than 25 years. Middle Picture: Standing at the shoreline a view of Lake Elementaita twinkles in the distance. Right Picture: A view of the inside of the water tank supplying wildlife across Soysambu Conservancy.

Due to the unpredictability of rains associated with climate change we have to pursue other measures of providing for the wildlife here whose numbers extend over 10, 000 within 188 square km. The cost of this new pump is $4500USD in order for the Conservancy to break even(see post Soysambu: A reason for Celebrating). If you would like to make a donation towards the replacement of this water pump so that we may continue in our endeavors to provide a water resource for the wildlife please follow the associated links for donating on our website. With Soysambu being just over a year old (established May 2008) and the only conservancy within the Central Rift Valley measures to ensure the success of this Conservancy as a leading conservation organization is made possible by donor support.

Soysambu Conservancy environmental beautification program

Written by Soysambu Conservancy Education and Awareness Officer, Sarah Omusula.

Soysambu Conservancy has been involving Primary School pupils surrounding it in beautification programme for the last three school terms which has been successful and taken positively both by the School Head teachers and Pupils. The exercise has been taking place on the Nakuru- Nairobi Highway from Shiners Boys to Flamingo Camp.

By involving the young children it enables them to grow appreciating the environment and knowing that they are supposed to keep their environment clean and work with it not against it.The Schools involved so far are Kiboko, Kasambara, Echariria, Rhino and the latest joined schools are Kiungururia and Kariandusi primary schools.

After a hard day we gathered at place where we had lunch and a break. Everyone was happy to have been involved in this exercise! To motivate the pupils and teachers they were issued with a certificate of participation where more pupils want to join during the next exercise.

Children enjoying lunch on the highway

As we just started the programme Soysambu Conservancy will be assisting the participating schools in small projects which come up in their schools. As the programme started recently we want to involve more schools which are willing to take part in this cleaning exercise as far as toll station at Gilgil which is very untidy. This will be a success if more schools can register with Soysambu Conservancy (Call +254 (0) 50- 50622). We also call for donations for purchasing lunches for the kids.

Games afternoon at Soysambu Primary Schools

Yesterday, seven volunteers from Africa Ventures plus myself spent the afternoon playing sports at the two primary schools, Mbogo and Kiboko (Swahili for Buffalo and Hippo respectively) on Soysambu Conservancy.

Students and Teachers of Mbogo School

The schools are government run and the students attending are the children of employees from Delamere Estates Ltd and Soysambu Conservancy Ltd- all of whom live on the Conservancy. The schools are humble, Kiboko School was formerly horse stables, and Mbogo School is a series of mud and stone huts with dirt floors. Many of the children walk up to 10km, rain hail or shine to get to school each day, and their smiling faces on arrival are a testament to their eagerness to learn.

Smiling faces of Mbogo School

While volunteers Hannah and Suquia got a lesson in Swahili from some of the children, Chris and Alex helped the Mbogo teams to a one-all draw in soccer, then I joined in teaching the kids to play Tail Tag- which ended in a tail grabbing battle between two brothers! Mean while at the other end of the Conservancy, Volunteers Georgie, Tor and Kat at Kiboko Primary lead the soccer teams to a nil-all draw.

Mbogo teachers with Volunteer Chris

Soysambu Conservancy Ltd (SCL) helps to support both Mbogo and Kiboko Schools. Recently SCL has facilitated donations of student and teacher desks, along with gifts of exercise books, pencils, globes, maps and more brought by donor groups and visitors to the Conservancy. Re-commencing next year, a donor funded lunch program at Mbogo Primary will be running, providing the children with an extra nutritional boost to help them get through the day. The Conservancy is also hoping to expand the lunch program to Kiboko Primary.

Osmani poses for a photo

If you would like to help Soysambu Conservancy Ltd’s effort to support Mbogo and Kiboko Schools you can make a donation through this Wildlife Direct blog (see donation box on the right of the screen).