The Samburu people have been living with wildlife since time in memorial. They have co-existed with wildlife and their livestock, they grazed in the same areas and they did not hunt wildlife, as they didnt eat wild meat.
In Samburu National Reserve, Game Rangers are deployed to provide security to wildlife and visitors inside the Game Reserve and in the neighboring group ranches together with the community scouts.
Tourist protection unit was formed (TPU) which is a combination force of Kenya police, administration police, kws rangers and county council rangers to provide security for visitors and wildlife inside and outside the game reserve. The unit was formed due to banditry in the region in 1999.
The unit mans observation post for twenty-four hours, conduct foot and vehicle patrols, ambush patrols and they are under the KWS operation commander. They have radio communications, binoculars, mobile radio chargers, tents, food and cooking utensils. They are changed back to their main stations after one month.
TPU is being sponsored by the councils by providing them with food, water, radios, firearms, tent, binoculars and vehicles for transport. Kws provides them with dry ration, vehicles, tents, binoculars and radios. The other stakeholders sponsoring the team are the lodges operating in the area by providing them with 220 ltrs of desiel each per month, they include Samburu game lodge, Samburu heritage club, Samburu Serena lodge and sarova shaba lodge.
The Samburu/Laikipia ecosystem in northern Kenya covers approximately 23,000 km2 consisting of a land-use mosaic of national reserves, private and community wildlife conservancies, private ranches, grazing areas, and intensive cultivation. Elephants are essentially free ranging across this landscape and threats to elephants vary in different parts of their range. Through GPS tracking, STE has gathered fine-scale data on elephant movements, identifying specific elephant corridors and core parts of their range, and highlighting the need for an ecosystem approach to conservation by protecting the whole elephant range, rather then only isolated, protected areas. Since 1998, STE has deployed over 40 GPS collars on elephants in the Samburu/Laikipia ecosystem and currently has over 26 collars on elephants in this area. STE is using three different types of collars, including those with satellite downloading capabilities (African Wildlife Tracking/Inmarsat) and those with VHF downloading (Lotek and Televilt), in a comparison of the cost, robustness, data quality and reliability of the different systems. Collared elephants are being monitored closely and data on their behaviour, associations and reproductive status are being gathered as part of two concurrent Ph.D. studies by George Wittemyer (Berkley University) and Henrik Rasmussen (Oxford University).
Results from GPS tracking of elephants in Samburu/Laikipia so far have demonstrated that the actual ranges of African elephants are smaller than previously represented. Detailed analysis show that the extended ranges of African elephants have distinct 'home' sectors linked by 'travel' corridors. Within each home area the elephants have favourite core or hotspot zones where they tend to spend much of their time and which consequently are heavily utilised. Home sectors and hotspots tend to lie in protected areas. Connecting corridors typically cross through unprotected habitat and elephants move faster along corridors than elsewhere in their range, a phenomenon termed streaking, which suggests they might be aware of danger in unprotected range. It appears that the animals make unexpectedly complex use of protected and unprotected areas.
Elephant movements determined from GPS tracking have assisted in defining the elephant range in Samburu and Laikipia and thus delineating the boundaries of the site for Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE), part of a global programme to study trends in elephant mortality and the potential impact of ivory trade on populations of African and Asian elephants. GPS tracking has shown that some bulls still use ancient migratory routes, passing through hostile areas and intensive cultivation, to move between Samburu/Laikipia, Meru and Mt. Kenya. This is direct evidence that these populations, although believed to be isolated from one and other by encroachment and human settlement, are still interconnected through the movement of bulls, and has defined the corridors that elephants use to move from one population to another.
In 2004, the GPS tracking programme has been extended into the more populated region of Laikipia to examine elephant habitat use in collaboration with Ph.D. researcher Max Graham (Cambridge University). This project is now underway and the GPS tracking component will provide complimentary information on elephant movements which will help to guide planning of electric fences, reduce conflict with agricultural development and better manage elephant induced habitat change, and keep vital elephant corridors open where possible.
We also plan to deploy satellite GPS collars on elephants in the northern part of the Matthews Range and on the little known remote population on Mt. Marsabit, when funds are available. This will provide information on the ranging patterns and possible corridors linking these northern elephant populations, crucial for guiding land-use and conservation plans for these areas. Furthermore, due to the real-time downloading of positions, this will enable Kenya Wildlife Service to deploy security personnel on the ground as soon as the elephants move out of protected areas into known high-risk