This is a story I’ve recently started working on.
I initially spent a few days following this highly trained, reactionary mobile anti-poaching unit, who are based in northern Kenya. Their work is to patrol conservancies up in the north and respond to any poaching going on. The unit consists of 12 men – carefully selected and trained in warfare and tracking.
For years inter-tribal fighting has been prevalent in the north, therefore it was decided that the 9-1 team needed to be a multi-ethnic unit in order to access a larger area. This has been a huge advantage to the teams success. Communities in the northern conservancies have a lot of trust and respect for the team and therefore are willing to name and shame poachers who are living/working within these areas.
To be chosen to be part of the team is without a doubt a considerable honor, however it does come at a major cost – members of the team give up their families, often not returning home for months. The team live out of their 4×4 vehicle returning to base camp only to restock their supplies.
When I started this story I was pretty unsure how it would work out. Being a women in Kenya can have its disadvantages particularly when dealing with men from the rural north – they tend to prefer male company and mostly women are not treated as equals. However, contrary to what I expected, these men were incredibly welcoming and willing to share their stories, their background, what they enjoyed about their job and the struggles they’ve endured – only a few months ago a couple of their team were killed in an ambush. However, it must be said that the team is immensely proud of what they do and their hope is that their presence in the north will reduce the amount of poaching and therefore conserve the wildlife living there.
I plan to return to northern Kenya next month to continue my story. Please get in touch if you have a particular interest in this story.
On patrol in Sera conservancy
The two muslim members of the team take a moment to pray
Setting up camp for the night. It is a requirement that each member of the team must have their gun nearby at all times