Conservation lion safari in Kenya? Hold on….
What is going on here? You may have noticed. One of the common themes here at Jackson is travel. Everyone I work with is a traveller at heart. Sometimes we do it to find new rivers to run, or fish to catch, forests to explore… but in the end. It is just an excuse.
What we really do it for, is to see the world. Meet people, sleep under strange stars. We feel that siren call of a new place, and nothing will stop us from finding a way to get out there. As a result, that is a huge part of what Jackson Adventures is about.
For me. East Africa is the true sirens call. I will find any excuse to get there and I never need one… but if I did, I would find it. Africa is a VAST continent. Far bigger than our North American-centric minds comprehend. Its peoples and cultures would take one several lifetimes to explore. The food is strange and different. The wildlife, the stuff we dream of as children and I love it dearly.
This trip, I travelled to Kenya, to Soysambu Conservancy. Listen, I will admit it whole heartedly. I have been to Soysambu a couple of times. It is very very special to me. I dream of someday living there. Just the sight of the lakes, mountains and valleys of this place make me tear up with joy. It is a place of good friends and wonderful comfort to me. Your perception of African visits may be wild and scary. This is not any of those things.
My friend Guy called me late 2018… he asked me if I wanted to go back to make a documentary. A pride of lions had moved in to the conservancy. So, it meant that new fundraising measures had to be put in place to protect the people and the livestock in the area. Which in turn would protect the lions. Lions, like bears and sharks here in North America, get a bad rep from locals. To them, they are dangerous killers. People want to protect themselves against them, and often at the cost of the lion.
“Yes”… I said… I don’t really think he got out his entire sentence…. and so this adventure was born. We would make a film to help the conservancy, and after… I would get to live a life long dream and go on a real safari! A luxury safari, the kind that you can only imagine. This is the story of the safari. Travel is at the core of my dear dark heart. And I want to share it with you.
Kenya is a country at odds with itself. Progress battles a heart of conservation. Kenya has done an amazing job over the centuries protecting its wildlife… but today its people also want it all. Easy transportation, power and communication in remote locations, and wealth. These mean sacrifices need to be made to their protected wildlife. These sacrifices are often small at first… a road here, a power line there… but they add up, incredibly quickly. As a result, in just the 8 years since my last trip here, Nairobi has doubled in size, the roads have become highways, and my beloved land has become criss-crossed with power lines. Places like Soysambu are constantly battling pressure for progress. It is a battle they are losing.
What’s a boma?
The only solution is to find balance. Find simple ways to allow the burgeoning human population to live in harmony with the wildlife we have left. So, solutions like the Boma project. Bomas are an ancient Maasai way of protecting herds from predators. Pack the cattle in to high enclosures at night, giving the predators no way to get to them from below, and no room to land if they manage to get over. Originally, these structures would be made of thorny branches. Today, they can build them from steel. Locally made, and, a repurposing of an ancient system… It is working. In just a year since the introduction of the bomas to the conservancy, they went from 30 + cattle lost per month to predators… to 1 or two a month… this isn’t just significant. It is world altering.
Suddenly the farmers stop perceiving lions as a threat. As a result, suddenly the money is no longer lost to predation, but gained in tourism dollars. Soysambu is now a place you can see lions. So you add that to the zebra, giraffe, hyena, buffalo, gazelle…
In January 2020, we will be releasing my first major documentary in a long time. “Pride”. We will explore all the above and more. Visit the people that are working to protect this little slice of paradise. Stay tuned! Here is the trailer!
For more information on Artists for Conservation. Head here.
For more information, or to donate to Soysambu Conservancy. Check this out.
To learn more about me.. head here.
Visit my friend Timothy Jackson to get in on next years Boma Safari!