On day two we headed out first thing (barring routine procrastination with domestic animals) to meet with the wildlife/human conflict committee. This group deals in inventing and implementing techniques for its members to keep wild animals from venturing into farmland. Our host for the event was John Kioko, the committee’s chairman and possibly the coolest man we’ve met on the trip.
When John retired several years ago he decided that, rather than sit back or find another job, he would help the local communities to improve themselves economically whilst protecting the environment and wildlife. He took us around his land and showed us the fence to Shimba Hills national reserve which borders his land.
He has introduced new farming methods which he learnt about when travelling around the world during his training trips as a communications technician. These included planting chillies then burning them with tobacco and cigarettes to produce stinging smoke which elephants can’t tolerate, which he learnt from Indian farmers. He also talked passionately about building ponds that the local farmers can breed fish in as an alternative way of farming. We could have spent the entire day talking to John about his ideas but sadly all too soon we had to say goodbye to John and his team and were driven to our next destination.
We arrived at the Kenya Union for the Blind tree nursery and got started straight away by talking to the chairman of the group, James Muthoka. The nursery was started some years ago in order to provide an income for local people suffering from blindness. They plant several different species of tree and sell or occasionally donate them to the local communities for their farms. Whilst they have been having problems securing water due to lack of rainfall, they are still growing a large number of seedlings on James’ land. We helped the group out with watering the seedlings in our own inept way and before we knew it our time was up. We said goodbye to James and his group and headed back to base to prepare for another day’s work.