The Ewaso Nyiro river is one of the only permanent sources of freshwater in the region. It acts as a vital lifeline both for wildlife and the local people and their livestock. Yet, with no significant rainfall here in several months the river is empty and landscape is getting drier and dustier with each passing day.
Whilst carnivores tend to thrive during the dry season, it can be a challenging time for other species. This month, Ewaso Lions gathered together an enthusiastic team of “diggers”, including Ewaso Lions staff, members of our Warrior Watch and Mama Simba programmes, and several Westgate Conservancy Rangers.
Our mission: to dig waterholes for wildlife and the local community.
We arrived at the dry Ewaso Nyiro River early on March 15 to make the most of the cooler morning temperatures and – keen to lay to rest false claims that we women would be unable to challenge the men in the digging stakes – split into two groups.
Whilst some of the warriors and elders made a start on the first of the watering holes, the female contingent (accompanied by two Conservancy Rangers) headed up the riverbed – narrowly avoiding a family of elephants who had beaten us to the digging in one location! We opted instead for a spot the Rangers like to refer to as “Fridge 1”, since the water there is always nice and cold.
Elephants proved not to be the only impediment to our digging operations. One of warriors’ waterholes had to be prematurely abandoned as Naramat and Lentim – the two lions who have recently taken up residence in the Core Conservation Area – decided that the adjacent bushes would be perfect spot to feed on waterbuck.
Nevertheless, after a competitive start, the women, warriors and elders all joined forces and we managed to complete six decent sized waterholes. It was the Mama Simba ladies, however, that really put the rest of us to shame; managing to dig in style, still adorned with their impressive jewelry.
Over the last few days, we have been monitoring the holes to see which species come to drink and have spotted lion tracks at one of the holes near where Naramat and Lentim were feeding. We have also seen impala and waterbuck drink and also numerous birds and primates.
We hope the rains will arrive soon!
> This is not the first time we’ve helped during a dry spell. We dug water holes back in 2011 – which you can read about here.