TenBoma Field Report: Expanding our footprint, identifying new crime indicators

Our tenBoma project continues to grow and make an impact for the protection of elephants. When we announced our partnership with INTERPOL during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) CoP17 in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was struck by how tenBoma has brought together local Maasai community leaders, Kenyan government officials, Kenyan-based NGOs, and now international agencies like INTERPOL.

As stated during the meeting—yes, we face a big and organized network of wildlife traffickers, but there are more of us committed to saving elephants, rhinos and other wildlife. If we work together, in an intensely integrated fashion, we can absolutely turn the tide against the poachers who are driving these animals to extinction.

It’s an exciting time for tenBoma. We have a lot of accomplishments to be proud of, and with our current and future partners we will continue to expand this program and make its impact felt across Kenya and more nations in the region facing similar issues.

Recently, our efforts in the field have revolved around the following:

Denying poachers operational space

Human-wildlife conflict has long provided cover for poaching. The more conflict takes place, the more unwilling communities are to protect their wildlife.

Recently, there has been a rise in illegal cattle grazing on Maasai lands, mostly from migratory herders seeking land where enforcement is lacking. This illegal grazing is now considered an upstream indicator of poaching because it is also an indicator for potential human-wildlife conflict.

Increased intervention in such areas not only helps protect wildlife from human conflict, but it protects the Maasai lands from overgrazing.

Expanding the network in Kenya

We have completed our training program and supplied equipment for the intelligence and investigations units at KWS’s Nairobi HQ. And presently, we are working with field offices to enhance their operational capabilities as well. Our immediate goal is to cover the entire Tsavo Conservation Area.

We can now move tenBoma experts to other areas, where KWS has indicated increasing poaching incidents and threats of poaching, and we can begin working more with other partners, such as Big Life and Tsavo Trust, whose existing networks of community scouts and aerial patrols can vastly expand the amount of territory covered.

Building capacity to address transnational crime

This will all ultimately build to a cross-national alliance of law enforcement, all working seamlessly to address the work of criminals hopping across borders. This is where our partnership with INTERPOL can play a large part, by tracking down the international syndicates behind wildlife crime, and lending a hand to aid prosecutions.

Our network will defeat their network and protect both the elephants in danger and the communities that live among them in the meantime.

--FC

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