Tag Archives: Soysambu Conservancy

Saving a Baby Rothschild’s Giraffe on Soysambu Conservancy

Just as the sun was slipping behind the Mau Escarpment I received a call that an endangered baby Rothschild’s Giraffe was in distress. I jumped in my car and rushed there with blankets and phoned the Animal Rights Reserved mobile vet unit in Naivasha. They are about an hour or so away so all we could do was keep the baby warm and give comfort.

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

Gabi and Maddie comforting baby giraffe

The sun was setting and there were hyenas close by so I asked our Soysambu Conservancy  rangers for assistance. Mike, who has been on the giraffe monitoring team, arrived with the Conservancy vehicle. While we waited for the Vet Unit to arrive the baby become stronger. When the mom came around we moved away hoping the baby could get up with it’s mum’s encouragement. It was just too weak from many hours lying in that position. When the mom moved away we kept it warm and rubbed it’s body and legs, trying to  get some circulation going. It finally lifted it’s head and sat up but still couldn’t stand and we couldn’t get it on it’s feet despite our best efforts.

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

Baby Giraffe lifts his head

The mobile vet unit arrived and immediately went to work getting the baby giraffe on it’s feet and examined it for injuries.

Standing for the first time

Standing for the first time

Examining Legs

examining legs

The Vet decided it was in good shape but had been lying there in the cold for so long it was numb so he massaged it’s limbs. It was amazing how quickly he responded.

Vet Massaging

Feeding milk and glucose

Feeding milk and glucose

The team then mixed a bottle of milk and glucose and after some coaxing he drank two bottles.

Walking without help

With that in him and feeling better he got up on his own and wobbled a bit but took a few steps. We decided to move as far away as possible and still observe with headlights dimmed to let it’s mom reunite with her baby. It was only a few minutes before she came up to him and touched his head and I guess, told him to follow her. She walked a few steps and he didn’t move, so she went back to him and maybe said “come on, there are hyenas about and you better come with me now”. (only my speculation) Well he followed her a few steps and stopped. She turned around and encouraged him again and he followed. Then he was looking for food so they stopped. She moved on and he didn’t follow so she came back, touched his head and he followed. This happened a few more times until they moved on. A little while later the baby sat down, I guess exhausted, and we were worried but he got back up again and followed her into the bush.

We think the mom was in the process of giving birth near the track from Kekopey to Elmenteita and she became spooked by a vehicle so took off running, the baby came out and hit the ground pretty hard. It is a tough birth in the best of circumstances. They usually get up and start feeding in about 45 minutes up to a couple hours. He had some scrapes on his legs and it was some time before he was discovered. The placenta was very close by so we assume this is the scenario.

A HUGE thanks to Animal Rights Reserved for their quick response which resulted in saving the life of an endangered species!!!

Kat Combes, CEO Soysambu Conservancy

A dream come true and a long journey to World Heritage

I must admit this past week I’ve been holding my breath while waiting to hear if the Kenya Lakes System  (Elmentieta, Nakuru and Bogoria) World Heritage Site would be inscribed. Then late last night while I was sitting in the dark because there was a power cut, I suppose due to the heavy storm,  I turned on my computer, hoping there was a little battery power to check my mail. There in my inbox was a brief note ” You are now part of a World Heritage Site, Congratulations!” At first I was a bit stunned having prepared myself for disappointment.

I couldn’t wait for dawn to rush down to the lake and experience a World Heritage Site. It was like  seeing everything for the very first time…my first World Heritage flamingo, my first world heritage giraffe, eland, tommie, impala, leopard tracks. I wanted to tell those little pelican babies that they would have a safe home. Magical!

It was a hard choice to just soak it in or snap a few photos as I had to rush back to Elmenteita town for a MOGTEKA meeting.

I guess you will need to Blog William Kimosop at Bogoria to hear how long a journey this has been for him, many many years…but for me, I was asked to a meeting back in 2006 when it was decided to try for WH status once again. The last attempt failed due to the unprotected status of Lake Elmenteita. Now began the long process of gazetting Lake Elmenteita Wildlife Sanctuary.

While this was in the process our Greater Lake Elmenteita Conservaton Area Committee and Stakeholders  worked with National Museums of Kenya and Kenya Wildlife Service for years in developing  Management Plan for the Conservation Area which includes the Core zone of the Lake and Riparian Land, The Buffer Zone , Riverine Zone and Controlled Development Zone.

We will be posting more information and links and photos to inform you of our progress.

Here is a link to the UNESCO Site.


We will be looking for help to ensure the World Heritage Status.

Yours in Conserving our World Heritage,

Kat Combes

Soysambu Conservancy included as part of the Kenya Lakes System World Heritage Site as the buffer zone for Lake Elmenteita

Dawn on Lake Elmenteita a new World Heritage Site in Kenya

Dawn on Lake Elmenteita a new World Heritage Site in Kenya

Soysambu Conservancy- Here are the Rains: Better late than never

Written by Zurijanne Kelley, Soysambu Volunteer

The past two weeks there have been rains. Not your average rains that roll around for about a day or two and then disperses. No. These rains have been so frequent that Lake Elmentaita can now be seen glistening in the distance with waves of pink clustered throughout the lake from the flamingos. Before the rains, the flamingos refused to be seen on the far shores of the once dried portion of the lake. Even the two rivers that join together to flow into the lake are once again filled with flowing water!

As I move about Soysambu, I can see the difference that the rains have brought. The roads display track stories of vehicles and wildlife that have passed through, the grass is visibly greener and crisp with life and everyone and everything is happy that the rains have come. Even so, I think the rains forgot to remind the Great White Pelicans that he was coming and that they too should return to their islands on Lake Elmentaita so that their white bodies may be intermixed with the pink of the flamingos like a wondrous sunset. I hope that they will come soon as this lake which is 3/4 kept by Soysambu is an important breeding ground for these birds.

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.

Soysambu’s newest arrivals!

Spring has definitely sprung on Soysambu, and with it has come the next generation of wildlife. Baby Gazelles, Impala, Baboons and Zebra can be seen running and dancing around on the fresh (albeit short) but never the less, green grass! Three new arrivals in particular have everyone talking excitedly, three brand new Rothschild’s Giraffe! Three giraffe calves playing We are not sure exactly when they were born, but signs all point to sometime in the last week. The three calves are in a group of about 12 other adults and sub-adults living in the sanctuary around the lake sure. There is also another heavily pregnant female who looks ready to have her calf any day now! Mother giraffe stands over her calfSoysambu Conservancy currently has a group of volunteers monitoring the giraffe and their habitat daily. The group from Africa Venture Volunteers is working on an ongoing identification project for the giraffe on Soysambu, taking pictures and monitoring movements and social groupings of the giraffe. The volunteers are also studying the habitat destruction that seems to occurring in areas of the Conservancy that the giraffe graze heavily. Acacia xanthophloea, or Yellow Fever Tree, is the primary food source of the giraffe, and in addition browsing the foliage, the giraffe are also stripping bark from the trunks and branches. This practice in some areas is leading to ring-barking and death of a number of the trees. Two calves sharing a secret… Giraffe expert, Julian Fennessy of Kenyan Land Conservation Trust visited with a prospective PhD student Zoe Muller to see the giraffe population as well as to meet with the volunteers and offer them guidance in their researching. There has been surprisingly few studies done on the Rothschild’s giraffe, so with the help of Julian, Zoe and the volunteers we hope to gain a better understanding of the giraffe on Soysambu as well as add to the information bank of the Rothschild’s giraffe. A happy familyGiraffe calf stares with curiosityThanks to Zoe Muller for the photos.

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