Friday, June 21, 2013

CONVERTING POACHERS TO PROTECTORS OF THEIR ECO-SYSTEMS


A group of former poachers told Amara Conservation's Jacob Dadi that they wanted to stop their poaching activity after they heard him speak and saw some of the films we at Amara Conservation screened.


One film is called “Carcasses” and is about the bush meat trade – a film made from a play written by Kenyatta University students. These former poachers wanted to try and produce a play similar to ours for themselves.


THEY DID JUST THAT! The reformed poachers were invited to perform at recent Madaraka Day (akin to Independence day in the USA) Celebrations in Taveta.


The Chief guest at the function, the Taita Taveta County Representative, was so impressed with their performance about the benefits of wildlife to communities that she gave them 30,000 Kenya Shillings as encouragement to them to do more, and promised to look for donors to support their work! They want to write and perform many more such plays and take them everywhere in their localities.

 Sowene

Sowene is a former expert poacher who has been in the business since 2007. He is a resident of Kimala Location, Jipe division in Taveta district. He went to primary school and dropped out of school when he was in class eight, due to financial problems.

He started working as a small-scale farmer, with little knowledge about how to invest income from the shamba. Soon thereafter he joined a former expert poacher who told him he could make more money from poaching than farming.


During Sowene's poaching activities he killed many wild animals including eland, dik dik, giraffe, impala, duiker, etc. As a poacher, he faced several challenges including:

1. Threats from dangerous animals, e.g. elephants, snakes, buffalo.
2. He was jailed by KWS rangers several times.
3. He couldn’t trust anyone, not even his neighbors.

He was recently caught by KWS rangers yet again with 1700kg of meat from 27 impala and 30 dik dik. He came across a Kenya Red Cross group volunteer in Kimala who was working with Amara providing conservation and environmental awareness to the communities, who told him about the importance of wildlife.


Weighing each side he decided to surrender the poaching job and joined the KRC group and Amara Conservation to help educate the community members about how they can benefit from wildlife, even directly from eco-tourism.

 He and a group of 10 other former poachers who worked under his guidance, have formed a theatre group and are using music and enacting their own dramatic plays and performances to teach people. He has visited Riata, Madarasani, Njoro, Rekeke, and Mata -reaching out to communities and schools. He is looking for funding to be able to reach more people.

Contributors:

Lori Bergemann
Jacob Dadi
Sowene

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Retro Kimmer

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