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WILDLIFE TRACKS                     February 2020
Tim, the Super Tusker in Amboseli © Paula Kahumbu/WildlifeDirect
Dear friends, supporters, and partners,

As we come to the end of the month of love and Black History Month, we also mark the end of an era for a super tusker, Tim, the elephant who died in Amboseli. It has been an eventful month for wildlife conservation in Kenya from the loss of an iconic super tusker to WildlifeDirect's petition in court to prevent a Mega Festival that took place at Hell's Gate National Park. In this edition of Wildlife Tracks, we celebrate success and take on new challenges.
End of an era for a Super Tusker in Amboseli
Tim, the Super Tusker in Amboseli with his Askari's, Townsend, left and Tolstoy, right.
© Paula Kahumbu/WildlifeDirect
The demise of Tim, a majestic elephant, probably the biggest elephant in Africa broke our hearts. Tim was famed for his giant tusks. He awed and inspired so many people and attracted world-class photographers hoping to get a rare shot.

During the filming of the Wildlife Warriors episode on Amboseli Elephants, Dr. Paula Kahumbu and the crew went to look for Tim. They found him standing with his “askaris”, a group of big bull elephants who stood in a defensive array of outward-pointing tusks. There was Tolstoy who is easy to spot as the tips of his tusks have been sawn off and Townsend, who is Tim’s little nephew. Meet Tim and his 'askaris' on this episode of Wildlife Warriors here.

Our only consolation was that Tim did not die under a hail of bullets like other elephants in recent years but instead died of natural causes. We hope that the passing of Tim will inspire the launch of a national elephant naming ceremony so that all elephants can be celebrated annually as central to the heritage and identity of Kenya. Read more here.
Fighting for Vultures at Hell's Gate National Park
White backed and Rüppell's Vulture  © Shiv Kapila
Recent developments in Kenya’s National Parks are putting endangered species at grave risk. In December 2019, a 48 hour mega music festival was scheduled to take place at Hell's Gate National Park on Valentines weekend. Numerous bird enthusiasts and experts requested WildlifeDirect to take action to save the only protected breeding colony of the critically endangered Ruppell’s Vulture. Despite all efforts to persuade the authorities to change the venue, we took the issue to the Environment and Land Court to stop the event.

On 12th February however, a Nakuru Law Court ruled against WildlifeDirect’s application for an injunction and the Koroga Festival was permitted to go ahead. In their presentation, lawyers for the Koroga Festival argued that it did not make sense to stop a huge festival because at risk were “just a few birds”. Despite the loss in the courts, the matter exploded on social media and Kenyans, including the entire tourism industry, and the Conservation Alliance of Kenya, supported WildlifeDirect's actions creating national awareness about the plight of vultures and the degradation of our parks. “Success is not winning a court case. Success is thriving wildlife,” said Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Chief Executive Officer at WildlifeDirect who attended the court hearing.

The court case has exposed enormous need for support for conservationists across the nation compelling WildlifeDirect to continue taking legal actions in the public interest and we are now launching an Environmental Justice Desk at our office to strategically support environmental advocacy and citizen action by providing legal support. This is to ensure Environmental and Wildlife compliance in Kenya. Read more
here and support this initiative to enhance sustainable development in Kenya here.
Supporting Victims of Human Wildlife Conflict
Nairobi National Park is home to over 30 lions © Reinhard Bonke
Thousands of Kenyans are affected by wildlife each year. Some incidents destroy entire families. Women in rural areas are disproportionately affected.  WildlifeDirect has from time to time supported widows and affected women and on 3 - 5 February, 2020, WildlifeDirect team visited Sharon Rono, the widow of Simion Rono who was killed by lions in December last year near the Nairobi National Park. The team visited the family and gave her Ksh 114,000 money, which was generously donated after WildlifeDirect circulated an appeal for support. Simion's employer also made a donation.

At her home in Chemurut, Narok, the WildlifeDirect team had a first-hand opportunity to learn about the challenges facing women affected by wildlife conflict and to demonstrate our compassion as a strategic effort to reduce retaliation against wildlife.  Sharon is eligible for compensation from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), though this may take some time. The funds raised by WildlifeDirect allowed her children to return to school and to pay for other costs including new school uniforms, books and shoes. 
WildlifeDirect team with the teachers and the family during the first day of in the children's new school. ©Trish Sewe/WildlifeDirect
WildlifeDirect team met the head teacher Mr. John Cheruiyot and enrolled the school in the Wildlife Warriors Kids program which is expanding to 100 schools this year.
 
We are extremely grateful to all donors who contributed towards Sharon’s emergency fund. If you would like to support our efforts to reduce human wildlife conflict please visit our page here.
The Great Grevy's Rally 2020
Wildlife Warriors Kids with Dr. Paula Kahumbu and Dr. Dino Martins during the Great Grevy's Rally 
© Trish Sewe/WildlifeDirect
January ended on a great note as WildlifeDirect took 25 children from 5 schools in the Wildlife Warriors Kids program to Laikipia to participate in the 3rd Great Grevy's Rally who joined 25 other children from Laikipia.
Grevy's Zebra © Trish Sewe/WildlifeDirect
The Grevy's Zebra Rally is a citizen science initiative that allows ordinary people to contribute towards data which will determine the population health of the endangered Grevy's Zebra. The census relies on image based software to count the animals. This year, the census was held across the counties of Samburu, Meru, Laikipia and Marsabit and included Taita Taveta County where an introduced population of Grevy’s zebra is found.
Wildlife Warriors Kids filling out worksheets at Mpala Research Centre © Trish Sewe/WildlifeDirect
The first Great Grevy’s Rally in 2016 concluded that only 2,350 Grevy’s zebra remained in Kenya. The second rally held in 2018 found the population had risen to 2,812 indicating stability in the population and a cause for optimism for the conservation of this rare zebra.
Red Rose Primary School Wildlife Warriors Kids and their teacher Mr. Allan Ochieng'      
© Trish Sewe/WildlifeDirect
This year's Rally brought together more than 150 teams comprising of research scientists, conservation organizations, government officials, and conservancy managers, members of the public, diplomats and school children.

We thank Mpala Research Centre for hosting WildlifeDirect, the school children, GGR partners and donors.

You can support our efforts to bring school children for citizen science events here.
Events in February
African Nazarene University - Green Week
WildlifeDirect screened Wildlife Warriors episode on Laikipia Leopards featuring one of their students, Ambrose Letoluai during the 2nd Green Week event organized by the African Nazarene University on 6 February. He is pictured here, center, with Victoria Wangui, left and Esther Ngei, right from WildlifeDirect.
Pathways Africa 2020 Conference
The Pathways Africa Conference was held on 16 - 19 February, 2020 at Brackenhurst Hotel and Conferences, Limuru, Kenya. Legal Affairs Manager, Mary Morrison (pictured right with Chloé Cipolletta, Director, East Africa, National Geographic Society) was present during the 3 day conference which involved discussions, learning opportunities, and networking activities with other women conservationists.
Recognition for our Innovations
In February, we were selected for inclusion in a pilot for a documentary series by Oscar and Emmy award winning film maker, Roger Ross Williams, who is keen to profile the iCourt App that WildlifeDirect is working on. The app is a one stop shop for all information on wildlife trials in Kenyan courts, making it impossible for files to get lost and providing vital access to up to date information on wildlife trials in Kenya’s 123 courts. The iCourt App is intended for use by prosecutors, magistrates and judges to make wildlife trials more efficient and transparent. During the shoot Dr. Paula Kahumbu and Mary Morrison were interviewed in the Amboseli Park and at a local court. 
In The News
Wildlife Warriors is a TV series about Kenyan wildlife heroes at the front line and the species that they are saving. The series is bringing wildlife conservation into the homes and classrooms of every African with the ultimate goal of moving people to action. Discover more on the February issue of Focus on property.
Gifts That Give Back
A gift today can change the future of wildlife tomorrow. Did you know that you can also shop to support us? Get Wildlife Warriors and Hands Off Our Elephants t-shirts, water bottles, mugs and stickers available at our offices located at Karen Connection Business Park, Lower Plains Road, Office 29.
Give to Wildlife
Thank you for joining us in connecting people to wildlife and nature and supporting efforts to save it. With your support we can succeed in fighting to defend the integrity of our protected areas to secure the future of wildlife in Africa, combat wildlife crime all across the continent and promote co - existence between people and wild animals.

We know that you would like to see wildlife thrive and thus encourage you to spread the impact by sharing this newsletter with your friends and colleagues so that they too can be part of this high impact wildlife movement.

Sincerely,

Dr. Paula Kahumbu
CEO, WildlifeDirect
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