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simbakubwa Nov 20th, 2006 10:20 AM

Sad news from Kenya....

Nyamera Nov 20th, 2006 10:30 AM

Very, very sad. Iíve got a feeling that if those soldiers hadnít been carrying weapons, no one would have been killed or injured. British soldiers should not be set loose in areas with valuable wildlife.

Marksafari17 Nov 20th, 2006 10:52 AM

Have you ever been in the African Bush alone without a guide or in a vehicle. Its a totally different feeling, trust me.

Nyamera Nov 20th, 2006 11:17 AM

Mark, yes I have and itís the best feeling there is, but then I havenít been in a really threatening situation, at least not where animals are the perceived threat. But, you do view the horns of an impala in a completely different light and as Iím not the least hysterical person I know, to avoid risking the lives of animals, I would not like to carry any weapons more dangerous than an umbrella

cooncat3 Nov 20th, 2006 11:52 AM

What a ridiculous place for military training.

atravelynn Nov 20th, 2006 01:47 PM

Let's do military training amongst the white rhinos! Not the best decision.

When I did rhino tracking at Motoba Hills in Zimbabwe the guide was allowed to carry only a metal hook for protection, no guns. That way the rhinos could not be shot.

divewop Nov 20th, 2006 02:27 PM

What is the rest of the story?

Did these soldiers not have radios with them? Or some sort of communication equipment?

You would think if these military soldiers were "training" in the areas of endangered and dangerous wildlife, where they "train regularly," and with the chance of getting lost, they would have been better prepared? Shame on them.

Please don't tell me the rhino came out of nowhere and caught them off-guard. I don't buy it!

matnikstym Nov 20th, 2006 03:55 PM

so sad...agree with the rest, why do military training in a wildlife area?

afrigalah Nov 20th, 2006 05:10 PM

Google 'British Army Laikipia'. Lots of interesting reading about controversies over the years.


kimburu Nov 20th, 2006 06:25 PM

I believe they continue to allow them to train there (despite the inevitable problems)because it brings in a lot of money for the Kenyan army. They seem to train on "tribal land" but I have also seen the area "Don Dol" referred to as a game reserve, so I'm not sure what is going on! It appears to be just south of the Sabuk property. They almost certainly shouldn't be there but since a number of people were killed or wounded there in the past and that didn't make them move, I wouldn't expect much.

Divewop, I would "buy it" that Britain's finest could be caught off guard by a rhino. They were probably telling fart jokes and simply didn't notice a ton of flesh and bone coming their way.

Nyamera, I also dream of an army that carries umbrellas instead of guns.. but alas, it has not yet come to pass :-(

afrigalah Nov 20th, 2006 07:14 PM

"Please don't tell me the rhino came out of nowhere and caught them off-guard. I don't buy it!"- divewop

Only too possible. After a lifetime watching Africa's wildlife at often close range, painter Simon Combes was killed by a buffalo while on a pleasant Sunday evening stroll on his property in the Rift Valley. And he was 'at home' with wild animals, like the occasional walking trails guide (I've met two) who's had to shoot a charging animal which has 'come out of nowhere.' The fault lies with governments which allow incompatible activities to share the same ground.


santharamhari Nov 20th, 2006 09:23 PM

More bad news....they are using these wilderness locations for their training? Shame on them....and shame on the Kenyan Govt.


afrigalah Nov 20th, 2006 10:32 PM


Not so sure it is a protected wilderness area. The Brits have been using it for training for 50 years, and the biggest controversies in recent times have involved the deaths and maiming of locals (I think, Samburu pastoralists & their families) from unexploded ammunition, and rapes and assaults on Samburu women. Large amounts of compensation have been paid.

Of course, using farming or pastoral country for military exercises is just as incompatible as doing it in true wilderness areas, not only because of the human element. Because it is 'settled' country doesn't mean it doesn't contain wildlife. I've watched a Maasai herder and his dog walk across open ground within sight of a feeding cheetah and her cubs outside the Mara NR. And Simon Combes wasn't in a national park when he was gored by a wild buffalo.

The Australian and American military (ground troops and air forces) regularly hold joint exercises in Australian wilderness areas (not protected NPs, of course, but no people live there) and there can't be any doubt that a lot of small Australian wildlife goes up in smoke. That's the difference...small critters, whether endangered species or not, won't attract the same attention as a big endangered animal like the rhino. The thing is, most if not all governments allow it to happen.


PredatorBiologist Nov 21st, 2006 11:25 AM

Interestingly enough U.S. Military holdings have been found to be reservoirs for endangered species. Although dropping bombs and running through the woods has impacts they typically hold large acreages for such activity and while land development for suburbs and agriculture destroy all the habitat military reserves have largely preserved it.

An excellent wildlife refuge is being created near my home just outside of Denver on a the site where 75% or more of the nuclear warheads for U.S. weapons were constructed. With all that plutonium around the facility had a large buffer zone. In one of the fastest growing areas of the country this large tract has remained undeveloped and as clean up nears completion a tremendous area has been conserved that would have no doubt been high end tract homes if not for the military applications.

That said no military operations need to be taking place where rhinos roam.

afrigalah Nov 21st, 2006 02:04 PM


When I go camping in the Australian bush, we search for and photograph all kinds of wildlife: scorpions, spiders, reptiles, bats, birds, marsupials large and tiny. The bush is swarming with life, all of it valuable, yet most people who drive through think it's empty and devoid of interest. It distresses me to think of the life that is destroyed by military activity in just one acre of that country (even in so-called military reserves), just as much as the death of that rhino in Kenya does. There's no answer, of course...people will always fight wars, until maybe there's nothing left to fight over.


Nyamera Nov 21st, 2006 02:36 PM

Letīs hope that this accident (?) - as rhinos are so much more valuable than poor people to people in power in Kenya - will serve to speed up the departure of armies training on Samburu land.

PredatorBiologist Nov 21st, 2006 03:00 PM

John: no doubt I see things the same as you. I do as much work with an imperiled mouse species as I do with anything else -- I care about the entire web of life and love the places that others see as empty. The wildlife value I pointed out for the military lands is just that preserving lands in an undeveloped state provide great value and that it would probably be surprising to most to realize that such lands that have uses that destroy some individual creatures can still provide lots of wildlife value as opposed to lots of other uses that wipeout all habitat. Two of the strongest remaining populations for the mouse I work with are in fact on the aforementioned nuclear warhead factory and the U.S. Airforce Academy. Both facilities have protected great habitat while Denver and Colorado Springs have had development wipe out the majority of previously suitable habitat. These U.S. military lands are managed for their wildlife holdings and still have to follow our endangered species act, thus they have inventoried these rare resources and manage operations accordingly.

afrigalah Nov 21st, 2006 03:26 PM


Yes, we agree. Good can come from some otherwise undesirable things.


divewop Nov 21st, 2006 03:33 PM

not to hijack the thread but any news on how the reintroduction of the lynx to the San Juan mountains and the rest of CO is doing?

I hope it's going well. They are such beautiful cats!

PredatorBiologist Nov 21st, 2006 04:29 PM

divewop: I think its a mixed bag with the lynx thus far. 218 have been released since 1999 and the high end population right now could be 138 but 43 of those are considered 'missing' - just means the they can't be found but that could be because their collar malfunctioned or they have travelled too far, lynx have made it to Nevada, Kansas and South Dakota so some are wandering far but no doubt some of those have probably perished so its well over a 50% mortality rate at this point considering some young have been born. Most seem to remain in the core introduction area though and after big losses in the early adjustment years they seem to be doing much better. Big news for this year was for the first time since the release a Colorado born kitten has matured and had her own kittens. This will be the true measure of success is if the population can begin its own recruitment with breeding so there is hope but the jury is still out.

In light of tiger and lion reintroduction talk on other threads these lynx were wild cats transported from Canada and given acclimation time in Colorado and the mortality rates were still that high so just imagine the plight of all captive reintroductions.

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