It has been a while since I last posted anything meaningful. The last year or so has brought much pain and tribulation to my already tumultuous life. For many months now, this has been my profile photo on WhatsApp, and so many have asked me about it. Today, I am ready to tell this story. The image is of a three year old male leopard. A beautiful boy, in his prime. It took us two days to track him down just following his growls after reports came in from the community about a marauding “lion” that seemed to be caught in a snare trap. I suppose no one dared get close enough to see the rosettes on his fur gleaming in the sunshine. What a sight he was. We felt so privileged to be in his company. The bush was very dense, and we could only view him from about 80m away as we weren’t sure he wouldn't break free and pounce. My phone camera has a pretty decent zoom, and I managed to get a decent enough photograph to send off to the KWS wildlife vet, in order for him to mobilise a plane.
A year ago we successfully began our Anti-poaching operations in Kipini, part of the Lower Tana Delta in Kenya. I remember sitting down with my rangers and telling them I could possibly only keep them for a year, but even if that is all we are able to manage, we will have saved a few lives and it will be worth it. They had a somewhat confused look on their face and said, “Ok madam.” Getting into our second year of operations, I now understand why they seemed so bewildered. They had a faith and confidence in me that I didn’t fully have in myself. I knew I could manage the team, and structure our operations well enough to combat the poaching here. I was confident about all the relationships I had quickly fostered with local administration and partners in conservation, and we hit the ground running. What I was unsure about, was our funding. We have been reliant on a goodwill donor who gave us an initial boost that allowed us to begin operations, but otherwise have been largely dependent o