Wearing camouflage and a green beret, Joseph Kimojino is now at war with poachers in Kenya’s spectacular and untamed Mara Triangle. Kimojino’s weapon of choice is a video camera, supported by a computer with an internet connection. The result is a nearly immediate and dramatic look inside the battle’s front line.
Kimojino is the head of tourism and anti-animal harassment for the Mara Conservancy. His “office” is filled with raw energy, wild beasts, spectacular beauty and–at times–the slow grind of a heartbreaking fate.
Just today, in an adrenaline-filled moment, two male lions fought and nearly tumbled into Kimojino’s vehicle; an episode that sent the cyber-crusader into an immediate scramble.
On the web today, Kimojino wrote the following account:
We found a male lion this afternoon which had been mating with a female. When we arrived the female got up to hunt, and the male left in the opposite direction.
As we headed back to Serena we then saw another mating pair of lions by the road. The male lion could hear the other lion roaring, and roared quietly in response. Eventually the now lone lion found the mating pair…
The video (below) of the lions runs 2:18. After a showdown, the fighting ensues at 1:43.
Two days ago, Kimojino uploaded an incredible video of hundreds of zebras (and other animals) crossing the Mara River and, at times, going nose-to-nose with massive crocodiles. Here is an excerpt from his blog entry of that moment:
The zebras are still coming across the Mara River in large numbers from the Musiara Plains in the North. With them there are a few wildebeest, and slowly but surely the Triangle is starting to fill with animals. Yesterday we managed to capture a video of an early morning crossing… You will see that the crocodiles have been eating so well these past few days that they are becoming too lazy in their attempts to capture the crossing animals.
Also this week, Kimojino shared his photograph of a group of hyenas feeding on a zebra. Once again, his dramatic account of that moment provided unique insight into the struggle against poaching.
On Sunday at around 4pm, one spotted hyaena was found near Olpunyata at the central plains of the Mara Triangle. He had a serious wound around his neck inflicted by a wire snare which was still cutting deep into his flesh. He was feasting with other hyaenas on the carcass of a zebra, which had been injured by crocodiles when crossing the Mara River and then finally killed by the hyaenas. As the hyaena with the snare around his neck was feeding on this zebra we could see food spilling out from the open wound of his oesophagus. It was so sad to see.
I first read about Kimojimo’s plight in the May 27, 2008 Wired.com story, Life, Death & Twitter on the African Savannah. Now, I eagerly read his daily updates on Twitter (where I learned the hyena with the snare on its neck was found dead today).
Videos, photographs and first-hand experiences are all shared at Kimojimo’s blog. Beneath a banner stating We cannot lose the Mara, visitors can make a financial contribution to Kimojino’s efforts to combat poaching.
So, why the spike in poaching? Kimojino explains that it’s largely due to the fallout from last December’s presidential election in Kenya. Weeks of deadly violence and unrest followed that election (it’s a story I told through the eyes of an Arizona woman in a two-part video series, Crisis in Kenya).
To say Kenya’s tourist industry is suffering now seems an understatement. It’s a trickle of its former self.
And when the tourists fail to arrive, so does money depended upon for important programs such as protecting the Mara Triangle.
At last, the politics of Kenya have found a time of peace. But Kimojino’s lens provides daily proof that the nation’s Mara Triangle remains very much in a state of crisis.