Zoo Supports Mounted Horse Patrol Team in Mount Kenya

May 22, 2019

Seneca Park Zoo is committed to its mission to conserve wildlife and wild places, and we achieve that mission through partnerships with conservation organizations like International Elephant Foundation (IEF). For the last five years, the Zoo has dedicated funds raised during summer ZooBrews to support the International Elephant Foundation’s work conserving elephants and their habitat in Africa.  A major initiative funded by Seneca Park Zoo is the Mounted Horse Patrol Team. The Team operates around the Mount Kenya National Reserve, an area of approximately 1,300 square miles that is home to more than 2,600 African elephants. The use of horses allows the team to reach more remote areas of the reserve and to enhance the efforts of the Kenya Wildlife Service. Our funds support the care of the 10 Ethiopian ponies on the Team, including food, veterinary care, and housing costs, as well as provide the annual stipend for five Patrolmen.

The success of the team has been impressive. The team patrols an area in the high-altitude zone of Mount Kenya in which poaching had become a big problem. The team disarms and removes traps, as well as snares placed by poachers to catch a variety of animals for bushmeat. Since the patrols started, there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of traps and snares found. The team has also arrested a number of poachers attempting to sell ivory from killed elephants. The Team’s efforts are paying off – only 15 snares were found in 2017 (versus 283 in 2016). The number of illegal poaching camps has also dramatically decreased to only one identified in 2017.

A horse with a member of the Horse Patrol Team
A member of the Horse Patrol Team and his horse survey the landscape during a patrol.

Most important, the Mounted Patrol Team also engages the community. By employing men from the area, the Team provides an important source of income, and team members serve as conservation ambassadors. The Team serves as an early warning for other threats like bushfires and illegal logging or grazing, provides valuable medical treatment to animals caught in traps and snares, and helps destroy poacher camps. Earlier this year, the Team found and controlled a 3,700-acre fire set by arsonists for illegal cattle grazing.

Your support of Seneca Park Zoo, and visits to see Genny C, Lilac, Moki, and Chana, allow us to support successful conservation organizations like International Elephant Foundation. Make sure to join us for ZooBrew this summer, where fifty cents of every ticket, and 100% of barn tour sales, directly supports this conservation action project!

– Dr. Louis DiVincenti, Assistant Zoo Director – Animal Care & Conservation

Featured image: Members of the Horse Patrol Team at Base Camp in Mount Kenya with recently installed signs recognizing Seneca Park Zoo’s support.