Protecting the King – 2 Months in the Life of the Lions and Rangers of the Mukoma-Karen
March 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm (World)
For the last 2 months, I have corresponded with a Sth African man who will remain anonymous. There is a clamp down on information coming out of Sth Africa and Africa in general for unknown reasons but there are stories which for educational and informative values must be told to the public. These true situations give greater insight and understanding to the situations faced by both the animals and the people of the area. The Kenyan Wildlife Service has taken alot of flak. As you know, there is good and bad in virtually every organisation in the world. A great deal of the time the bad is shown because that is what media and the public feed off. The bad always causes great reaction. But what about the good stories? There needs to be a balance and these stories must also be told to ensure the public knows what is happening and to provide help and support where we can, and to provide a balanced understanding of situations.
The faceless Rangers that quite frequently we only here about when they are shot by poachers, carry out a daily battle to protect and save life.
For the Sth African Man (SAM) who has provided me this information – Thankyou for trusting me Sam, thankyou with all of my heart xo May the Lions continue to run free and reamain protected by the “Angels” (rangers) of Mukome-Karen.
Protecting the King – The Lions and Rangers of Mukoma –Karen
A pride of Lions watch cautiously as a group of thieves cut through the fencing of their protected area. The thieves are from the nearby slum areas and have come to steal the fencing so they can sell it for scrap. There is no form of income earning in this area and everything is up for the taking if no one is watching.
But they are being watched. The thieves have caught the attention of the Lion pride and the pride stares as the fencing is taken away, seeing the hole and equating what they will do next. The human presence is gone. The Lions assess the gaping hole in the fence line.
The Lions of the Mukoma-Karen area of Sth Africa live in a vast expanse, however fencing has been erected to keep the Lions away (safe) from people, and to keep the people away from the Lions. But it seems that people just refuse to stay away from these creatures.
For months the Lions have watched the happenings from the other side of the fence, maybe they’ve seen prey wander by and they supressed the urge to hunt stifled because of the fence. But now they have the chance to discover new territories, it looks safe, so they make their move. They run through into the unknown and the countdown to the possible end of their lives begins.
The Apex predators have only one known threat – human beings.
The next morning
The Rangers of the Mukoma-Karen area begin to do their daily inspections of the area. They come across the gaping hole in the fence and see the evidence of the Lions escape. They immediately know that they must find the Lions and get them back into the fenced off area before the Lions run into any humans. The freedom of the mighty Kings means certain death if a human/animal clash was to occur.
The Rangers are worried.
Three weeks prior to the escape of the Mukom-Karen Lions, three Lions were deliberately killed by the Maasai community for revenge after the Lions strayed out of their zone and killed some of their cattle. To kill an animal for revenge, under any circumstance, is not acceptable, and in no way brings justice, but it happens and is done out of human anger. Revenge is a hollow comfort. This is not to say the Maasai community are cruel and vengeful, it may simply mean that they do not know the bigger story of the declining Lions, or any other way to deal with the Apex predators. Education is a key.
The need for human education, respect, discipline and selflessness.
The great cats and predators in general are losing their prey everywhere across the world with one of the major causes being humans encroaching on their habitat and killing their prey. There are natural factors which drive prey species numbers down such as drought, however when compared against over population and human growth, the demand of resources, the ever expanding encroachment into their habitat, and the poisonous poaching and wildlife trade, the Apex predators are suffering immensely. It will be a miracle if they continue to survive, or should I say, it will be a miracle if human beings allow them to continue to survive…… Without the over population of the human race and the threats our human ways place on these creatures, this earth would be flourishing.
Human beings need to be educated and share that education in order to understand the seriousness of the decline of species due to our actions and demands. We need to learn to respect biodiversity and the needs of the ecosystems required for the survival of all life on earth. We need to respect the living creature and not try to conquer the mighty animals for trophies, or eat gluttonously of every species, or kill for money. We need to be self-disciplined enough to limit ourselves to only the things we need and not act constantly on material, ego stroking, desires. And we need to become selfless in order to do all these things and before we can truely say that the continued survival of all species, plant, animal and ourselves will occur. At this point, by our own destructive human hands, we are killing all life on earth.
There are literally millions of human beings that are guilty of the modern day “Seven Deadly Sins” – Lust, Gluttony, Sloth, Greed, Wrath, Envy, Pride – but there are 2 other “ sins” to add to this list:
* Vainglory – unjustified boasting. (eg: People who go to canned hunting venues suffer severly from “Vainglory”)
* Acedia (meaning - to neglect to take care of something that one should do) There are alot of people who display Acedia, they do nothing and turn the other way while atrocities occur on the creatures or wait for someone else to do the work.
The Lions ran across the plains unknowing of the deadly human sins/threats that they had opened themselves up to. Their new found terrain, the freedom that is rightly theirs, in the Kingdom that they rule, would kill them.
But on this occassion, this rare occassion, there were also ’good’ humans that have selflessly dedicated their lives to saving these creatures, and this time the Lions would be tracked for their safety, this time they would have some protectors, the Rangers.
But it wasnt going to be easy.
Over the next weeks and unbeknown to the Lions, the Rangers watched over them, trying to drive them back to the safety of their fenced zone, and shaddowing their every move. The Lions were fast and clever and they never stayed around long enough for the Rangers to get a good view to dart them.
Weeks went by, before the Rangers succeeded in relocating a couple of the Lions back into their protected area. These men worked sleeplessly night and day to ensure they didnt miss the opportunity to dart them and bring them back to safety.
As the weeks went by, my gut churned hoping to never hear of the death of one of the Lions. There was no newspaper link or article to read on this, no updates, just information straight from the field.
By the end of February the Rangers and Veterinary Doctors had worked round the clock to ensure that these Lions didnt end up in any human/animal conflict. It is gruelling work that only the dedicated do.
Think about this - you to live in the field, sleep in a vehicle, eat very little, go without all of your comforts, no reprieve from being on guard, sleep deprieved, for weeks – months, purely to guard, watch and wait to bring safety to the wild Lions. Then balance that with trying to protect the Lions from disgruntled people who want revenge for lost cattle, from people who class the Lion as a nuisance and not as the endangered majestic creature that it is. And then add into that these Lions are wild and there is great danger that you, as a ranger, may be attacked by the Lions while trying to save them. Could you do that?
These brave and dedicated rangers drag their weary bodies on. This is the life of the Rangers of Mukome-Karen.
By early March, 20 Rangers had been in the field for 2 months, trying to drive the Lions back into the protected area. They had tried everything and had even laid baited traps out, but the Lions were clever and managed to avoid capture.
It seemed that this job was never going to end.
Behind the scenes, the Wildlife Service Headquarters personal provided support and supplies to keep the Rangers going. The Lions had hunted and fed reasonably well on their journey and the rangers constant vigile and defensive tactics had successfully kept them away from the human population. 2 months is a very long time to be in the field under these conditions.
Finally by the second week of March good fortune smiled upon the weary rangers and they finally caught the last three Lions and returned them back inside their protected area.
People will do anything to survive. When there is no income in an area, humans will do absolutely anything to get money. There is a great need for support to the villagers and people around the world who are poor and living in close proximity to the iconic species of earth. But there is also a great need to recognise that there are very good people in positions of authority who are trying their best to do the right thing.
Serious changes are needed to help better the lives of isolated communites, and in doing so, we protect the last of the majestic creatures of earth.
One week later….
Late at night, the Lions watch as a group of thieves cut through the fencing of their protected area…………. it starts again.