The World is Changing
In 1981 I began making documentaries in Kenya's
Masai Mara. For a film maker trying to capture high action sequences
of predators hunting, the Mara was simply the best place in Africa.
On one day, myself and Warren Samuels achieved a
cheetah kill, lion kill and crocodile killing zebra. All three
sequences were truly dramatic.
On my arrival in the Mara, I applied my knowledge
that I had learned from the ecologist Dr Ken Tinley.I went into
partnership with the Masai people and even partly owned a herd of
The Masai had previously been pastoralists moving
nomadically across the land. Now they were settled in one area and
the cattle grazed around their homesteads, often overgrazing the
Tourism was strong and many lodges and tented
camps were dotted across the Mara.
I noticed that the lodges did not employ the
Masai. The Masai were regarded as too wild, too unreliable to work
in a game lodge.
The result was that the lodge owners brought
their staff from Nairobi to run their lodges. Therefore many Kikuyu
and other tribes worked in the Mara, depriving the Masai of jobs.
The Masai perceived tourism as a necessary evil
on their land. Except for the camp site fees, they derived no
benefits from the tourism.
There was always conflict, the tourist lions
would attack the Masai cattle, the Masai would retaliate and kill
the lions, robbing the lodge owners of a major tourist attraction.
The star of the BBC series "Big Cat Diary", Half
Tail the leopard, was killed by the Masai after she began killing
In the film, "Brothers in Arms", I predicted that
if the Masai were not brought into the mainstream tourist industry,
the Masai Mara would suffer the consequences in the future.
My prediction has come to pass and more and more
conflict has developed between the Masai and the tourist industry.
Recently, members of the famous "Marsh Pride",
one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Masai Mara, were
poisoned by Masai herdsmen.
Rhino and elephant have both suffered at the
hands of the Masai. Nearby in Amboseli, the Masai have been spearing
elephant and the elephants are retaliating by killing Masai.
Like in any conflict situation, there are those
that will exploit it, namely the poaching syndicates.
Poverty, marginalized communities shut out of the
park system provide the perfect environment for syndicates to
operate. The syndicates provide guns and ammunition and pay large
amounts of money for ivory and rhino horn.
Now the people shut out of the park system
benefit directly, albeit illegally.
Only Ian Khama of the African leaders has been
able to combat the poaching. Khama's "shoot to kill policy" and zero
tolerance has paid dividends. While other African countries are
losing rhino, Ian Khama is restocking Botswana with rhino sourced
from South Africa.
In short, Ian Khama's military approach has
worked. No country in Africa has been able to combat poaching, by
using communities loyal to the parks.
Uhuru Kenyatta's approach has been to torch 110
tons of ivory and over 1 ton of rhino horn. Kenyatta believes if he
can kill the supply, he can win the war against poaching. However to
be fully successful, Kenyatta will have to win the war against
poaching on the ground, a time consuming and costly business.
Whether you are an advocate for trading ivory and
rhino horn or not, it is perfectly obvious in which direction the
world is heading. On the same day that Kenyatta torched 110 tons of
ivory, 33 lions were being flown into South Africa from circuses and
zoos that have been closed down in Peru and Columbia.
Canned lion hunting, trophy hunting, trade in
ivory and rhino horn and wild animals performing in circuses are
under pressure worldwide.
Social media today is a powerful force across the
globe. People are able to communicate instantly with pictures,
Facebook, YouTube, Email, Instagram and Twitter.
If the circus is in town and has performing wild
animals, boycott it. Don't buy from shops trading in any kind of
ivory or wild animal fur coats. Boycott hamburger producers that
have been known to destroy rain forests.
You have cameras and you have the ability to
communicate your pictures and your concerns world wide. Use them!!
Tread lightly on the Earth
On the same day that the ivory was being burned
and the lions were being flown from Peru, we were introducing 6
serval into the cheetah area at Tiger Canyons.
Several sightings have been made and one
particular serval that was hand raised allows people to walk and
hunt with him.
I would like to thank Will van Duyn, Yuku Lehara,
George Snyman and Lizelle Liebenberg for their assistance in the
capture and transportation of the Serval.
Tigress Julie Lodge
After a delay of 3 weeks while we waited for
financing from the bank, the lodge construction is now going ahead.
The completion date is 30th July. The lodge is a model for future
lodges in Africa, completely powered by clean solar energy. For
Tread Lightly on the Earth