Welcome to Kenya - Masai Mara Lions

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Masai Mara Lions

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Introduction

Masai Mara is Kenya's most famous national park. Wildlife areas are decreasing throughout Africa at a rapid rate which is affecting many animals such as lions. At this project you will be an integral part of a research team dedicated to preserving the lion in Africa and in the wild.

Your Role as a Volunteer

Your time as a volunteer will be spent assisting a long-term predator research project based in Naboisho Reserve. The project aims to monitor lions, leopards and cheetahs, their movements as well as population dynamics. Additionally, interactions between lions and the Masai (nomadic cattle raising tribe) are monitored for any conflict.

Whisker spot patterns, scars and ear notches are used to identify individual lions. Spot patterns on the face and body are used to identify leopard and cheetah individuals. Part of your work will be to create individuals profiles for easier identification on the next sighting.

As in many wildlife area, either border or lying within community areas, conflict between predators and people is a common existence, especially with people who place great value on their livestock. Many ethnic groups feel that hunting down the lion and killing both it and the lions that it is with is a way of revenge. This is sometimes done by shooting or catching the animals in snares, however sometimes carcasses are poisoned, which can call devastation with many other animals other than predators. By establishing long term studies such as this one, researchers can get closer to a possible solution to this ongoing conflict, as well as testing various solutions. Be a part of the solution to this terrible conflict that does not need to exist.

While volunteering, you will learn to identify individuals, document their movements and contribute towards observations about their health. Most data collection is done during the early hours of the morning or dusk, together with your supervisor.

Koiyaki Guiding School

The camp in which the volunteers are based is also the Koiyaki Guiding School for local young Masai’s. Nearly 85% of those that take care of tourists in Masai Mara are not from the area. This means that only a small portion of the revenue from tourism goes to the Masai, who actually own the land. Therefore, the guiding school educates Masai so that the management and income of the reserve is able to go back to the original inhabitants. The school runs for about four months of the year, during which volunteers are able to assist with teaching English, driving lessons and computer skills.

Village school and women's groups

Olesere Primary School is also in the area and has 250 pupils aged 4 - 12 years. Here you can get help to teach English, Maths and tell the kids more about environmental and wildlife issues. Additionally, you may want to assist with maintenance and repairs to the schools buildings. In the village nearby a women’s group meets once a week, which you are welcome to attend, as well as visiting the local market.

Schedule

During the week your day will often start early, with a game drive at dawn to monitor the lions, leopards, cheetahs as well as other animals. On weekends, you are free to do your own thing and enjoy the day as you please. Depending on the time of the year your day might look something like this:

06:00 – 09:00: Game drive, finding the research animals and collecting data.

09:00 – 10:00: Breakfast

10:00 – 12:30: Game drive, monitoring the movement and behavior of elephants.

13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

14:00 - 16:00: Processing data collected during the morning.

16:00 – 19:00: Game drive, monitoring the predators and their movements.

School day (if the guide school is running):

06:30 – 07:30: Bird walk with school students

07:30 – 08:00: Breakfast

08:00 – 10:00: Teaching English

10:00 – 13:00: Game drive, to monitor elephants.

13:00 – 14:00: Lunch

14:00 – 17:00: Garden project at the school  or visit to the market in the village.

17:00 – 19:00: Game drive.

How do I book a trip?

You can book your trip with Volunteer Travels by calling us on (+46) 08-23 93 00 or by booking through our website www.volunteertravels.com by clicking on “Book a trip”. You can also email us on info@volunteertravels.com. When you have registered yourself we will send you an invoice with a registration fee of £200.00. The registration fee is later incorporated into the trip price and the amount is then deducted from your final invoice. When you have paid the registration fee you are formally registered. You will then receive preparatory information from us in good time to plan your trip.

Your Everyday

Orientation

When you arrive in Nairobi, Kenya you will be met by someone from the project, who will take you to your overnight accommodation in Limuru. Early the following morning, they will take you to the project site, in Masai Mara where you will go through an introduction to the area and receive more information about the project itself.

Accommodation and Food

Volunteer accommodation is situated in a camp located within the Naboisho Reserve, which is adjacent to the Masai Mara. Bedrooms accommodate up to six people, with separate toilets and showers. Meals are prepared by the local chef employed at the camp. A communal living room is where you will do a lot of the work in the afternoon, compiling databases, from your pictures and observations during the game drives.

About Kenya

Few places in Africa elicit that genuine African feeling like the Masai Mara with its abundance of animals and culturally unique Masai tribe living amongst the animals. Kenya is East Africa’s premier destination for those wanting to experience wildlife in their natural habitat. However, that is not all Kenya has to offer. With its rich diversity of culture and people, you will be blown away by the friendly faces and unusual cultural differences.

Majority of the population speak Swahili, while Swahili and English are the official languages of Kenya. There are however an abundance of local languages in each of the areas that you might travel to.

May, June and July can be colder months with a lot of rain, while December to April is hot and dry. The temperature in Naboisho and Masai Mara is usually very nice and pleasant.

Practical

Flight

Flight tickets are not included in the tour price. You are required to arrive in Nairobi the Sunday before the week that you start at the project. At the end of your project, should you wish to return home immediately, you need to book your flight on the night of the Monday (after 09:30pm) or Tuesday following the end of your time at the project. As on arrival, overnighting in Limuru on your return is also included in your tour price. Please be sure to check the arrival and departure dates of your flights and make sure they match up with your start and end dates at the project.

Visas

A visa is required to travel to Kenya and this can be purchased on your arrival, for a total of $50.00. All that is required is two blank pages in your passport, in addition to your passport being valid at least 6 months following your departure from Kenya. Remember to enter the country as a tourist as you are not being paid for your volunteering.

Insurance

You are responsible to purchase your own insurance that covers illness, injury and theft while working as a volunteer. Volunteer Travels however, will provide you with a liability insurance, which is included in your tour price. This insurance will cover you when you as an individual are required to pay for damages that you have unintentionally caused someone or someone else’s property.

Vaccinations

For any questions about vaccinations, you should contact a vaccination center close to you. Hepatitis A and B is always recommended for trips abroad, however speak to your doctor or the vaccination for further information about other needed vaccinations.

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