The daily battle against the bush meat trade (follow up)

The day after I wrote the below article on the , our security team came across 30+ snares in one small area of Soysambu, proving that this really is a daily battle and something needs to happen now to stop it.

Pictured below is Soysambu Conservancy Community and Wildlife manager Charles Muthui with Mohammed, one of the security rangers unloading the snares yesterday (Saturday 7th Nov).  

30+ snares found in the northern end of the Conservancy 

The battle against the bush meat trade

Warning: The blog below contains links to some graphic images…

Poaching for the bush meat trade has long been a problem on Soysambu.

Trespassers break onto The Conservancy and set snares – nooses made from lengths of wire, attached to a tree, bush or fence and hung over animal trails (see image below).

A snare hung in a shrub waiting for an unsuspecting animal to walk through 

The unwitting animal, be it an Impala, Gazelle, Zebra, Buffalo, Eland etc, walks into the snare and becomes trapped. The more it pulls or struggles the tighter the snare becomes, eventually leading to a cruel death by suffocation. The animal is then collected and either eaten, or the meat sold.

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Saving a beautiful flamingo sanctuary from extinction

This article written by Beatrice Obwocha appeared in the Kenyan national newspaper The Standard today (5//11/09)

From the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, the shoreline of Lake Elementaita looks like a desert surrounding a small patch of water.

The western and eastern shores of the lake hold little patches of water from hot springs while the main basin of one of Rift Valley’s smallest lakes is turning into a dust bowl.

One gets the impression that they can walk right across the remaining muddy patch that stretches several kilometres.

When strong winds blow, a whirlwind of grey dust sweeps right across the lake whose water levels have declined to less than half a metre deep.

Not even water from the recent rains pounding Nakuru and its environs seem to have made a difference on the lake.

Thousand of flamingos that used to line its shores, giving them a pink hue, have migrated elsewhere as the lake’s water level has declined to its lowest in 20 years.
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For all you artists out there…

Soysambu is in a great location for access to Nakuru, Aberdares & Baringo and only 2 hours from Nairobi on good road. We’ve got 2 operational lodges: and and balloon safaris available:

And there are another 2 lodges/tented camps being planned. One of them is a luxury Serena tented camp.

Simon Combes gave amateur artists some tuition at a bush studio set up as part of a fly camp for an artists safari on Soysambu (see Facebook photo album: “Art at Soysambu”).

Any artists that comes to Soysambu can, with prior arrangement, come and see where Simon Combes used to work and learn about what inspired him. Also we’re planning to build another studio, and if artists want to come and work with researchers, we’re developing a field study centre that will have accomodation, called CREATE (Centre for Research, Environment and Arts Teaching on Elmenteita)

There are and will be many more activities available at Soysambu, including camel trekking and a proposed Cheetah Sanctuary.


If you have any ideas about how to achieve this, or are able to include Soysambu in any fundraising efforts you’re involved in, let us know! Our appreciation will be considerable.

I plan to be based on Soysambu for the second half of 2010 and in the future am planning to balance out my time between the US and Kenya. While I’m there I will be available as a guide/driver for professional artists to come and get reference on a one to one basis. Experience has revealed that putting professional artists together on GROUP safaris has its pitfalls: everyone having the same reference; coordinating a group so that all involved are available at the same time; logistics of coordinating a group of artists who want to paint different things; having enough room in vehicles for camera equipment etc; being landed with a driver who doesn’t understand how to position the vehicle with an understanding of light and composition…..the list goes on.

Also it’s much easier to hire one vehicle and accomodate individuals at short notice.

You’re a wildlife artist, you have one or less opportunity a year to get reference in the field and you’re on a limited budget. Do you need: A tent with a chandelier in it? To pay another professional artist to give you tuition when all you want to do is get as many photos/sketches as possible?

Get in touch if this makes sense to you


Guy Combes

Soysambu Wildlife Census, September 27th.

Twice a year a Game Count is conducted on the entire of the Soysambu Conservancy, to give an idea of animal numbers. It is impossible to get an exact count on most animals, however using particular techniques a general idea can be established!

Rangers, staff, volunteers and residents assembled at the head office at 6am to collect counting sheets, binoculars and vehicles. The property was divided into 11 sections and groups of 3-6 people designated to each section, plus an aerial count of larger animals, like Giraffe and Buffalo, over the entire property.

The count took most groups about 3 hours, but the last group didn’t finish until 11am after scrambling through the dense scrub of the Lake Sanctuary!

Rangers counting animals near the Lake

Some of the notable sightings included a Leopard, 4 Hyena, 4 Bat-Eared Foxes wrestling across the plains, and 3 Ground Horn Bills. 63 Rothschild’s giraffe were counted, including quite a few newborns! There were only 7 Colobus Monkeys seen, which adds to suspicions that the population size has dropped.

Over 200 Eland were seen, and 67 warthog were counted, both numbers having increased since last count in MayThese figures are very encouraging as both these species are targeted heavily by poachers. And last night I saw my first Aardvark on a night drive! Very exciting stuff!

Rangers on a lookout hill counting wildlife