Looking to raise awareness of ecological protection, inaugural Tang Prize laureate in the Sustainable Development field Gro Harlem Brundtland donated her US$0.33 million grant to the Milgis Trust of northern Kenya, where the organization fights for the wildlife of the area, spotting poachers, protecting water resources, and preserving the local cultures such as the Samburu.
For the formal signing of the Memorandum of Agreement for the project, foundation CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern and Tang Prize staff arrived in person at the trust’s location in the Milgis Lugga region of northern Kenya in July, 2015. During the signing ceremony, the foundation provided a donation of several backpacks for the locals’ long scouting trips, gifts which have now found an important use.
Since its founding in 2004 the Milgis Trust has protected the African elephant in the Matthews and Ndoto mountain range, which has long faced danger from poachers. Part of their work comes from spotting poachers before the act, while the other is achieved by educating the locals about the real impact of the ivory trade. Due to the continued efforts of the Trust and its local scouts, consisting of local Samburu tribe members, it has been able to largely impede frightening trends like the killing of elephants for ivory. It is a massive success story in an area that has long been plagued by illegal poaching and over-hunting.
Tracking poachers means long trips out in the expansive Lugga where food and equipment must be brought on one’s person. Now, with the funds from Gro Harlem Brundtland and the backpacks from the Tang Prize Foundation, Milgis scouts have useful provisions for their journey. As education strengthens local life and scouting protects the elephants, the people are again learning about how to coexist sustainably with wildlife.