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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > October-December 2017 (80) > Power to the people

Power to the people

Kenya's Northern Rangelands Trust is a pioneering partnership of local communities looking to invigorate a vast swathe of northern Kenya, with wildlife conservation and tourism at its heart. Does this signal a new way forward for rural areas across Africa?
The rare Rothschild’s giraffe in the Ruko Conservancy
a team of Samburu rangers have been trained to track and monitor Sera’s black rhino population, thus making a valuable contribution to the conservation of this highly endangered species

Late on a Sunday afternoon, we are creeping through the wilderness, tiptoeing past gnarled trees and over crunchy twigs to the harmonic bleep of a tracking device. Hawks circle overhead, screeching a terrible call, and in the distance towering mountains are silhouetted against the ebbing sun. In line we sneak: first our guide Sammy, then Lekanaya the tracker, his assistant, me, and at the back our armed ranger Jimmy.

Suddenly, silently, Sammy’s fist flies into the air signalling for us to freeze. From a bush about 15m away comes a low, fearsome rumble. Behind it, a one-tonne black rhino is disguised by a shrub but for one ear, which flickers forwards and backwards, listening intently. In a nearby tree an oxpecker spots us and sounds the alarm with her call, alerting the rhino that danger is approaching: humans. The rhino lets out a sharp snort and rounds the bush so that she is now out in the open just metres from where we are standing. One step closer and she halts, weighing up the situation. Her eyesight is poor so she cannot really see us, even at this close proximity. Still, my heart is in my mouth, as we stand there, frozen in this moment. We’re granted one exhilarating second more and with the crack of a stick on the ground she turns and runs away.

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