June 8, 2010
Among the flower farms, private landholdings, gated communities, and slums that surround Lake Naivasha lies Kedong Ranch. Started in 1974, the 60,000-hectare ranch — that’s a staggering 600 square kilometers — straddles Mount Longonot, Hell’s Gate and Lake Naivasha. Here’s a satellite image. Hit hard by the drought last year, which killed much of their livestock, there are only 1200 head of cattle, goats and sheep currently grazing on the property. At least legally. Masai commonly bring their cattle onto the property to graze. With only 40 employees, it is impossible to monitor the entire ranch.
To generate income, the ranch runs a tourist lodge, the Longonot Ranch House, and leases some of their land for agricultural production.
A month after our visit, these same workers will go on strike, rallying for better wages they were promised.
Power lines run through the property, carrying KenGen electricity to Kenya’s growing population and also creating a dangerous zone for birds. We see feathers whose shafts are cracked in a distinct way, showing electrocution.
Later, we find the remains of a stork hanging on a line that must have caught its wing on the lines which are invisible to the fast-moving birds.
Dr. Munir Virani is working on a paper warning about the impact on threatened bird species as electrification efforts increase in Kenya.
The ranch felt oddly empty, although there were some wild game, including zebras. Here, Arian inspects a broken water trough:
Later in the day, Sarah Higgins, a local landowner and member of the Lake Naivasha Watershed Council comes to give a lecture.