ExplorersBio

Anne Kent Taylor

Conservationist

Big Cats Initiative Grantee

Photo: Animals protected by fences in Kenya

Photograph by Marcus Westberg

Photo: Anne Kent Taylor

Photograph courtesy Anne K. Taylor Fund

Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Current City: Billings, Montana; Masai Mara, Kenya

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

St. Francis of Assisi, because I wanted to be with animals without them fearing—or eating—me!

How did you get started in your field of work?

I witnessed firsthand the suffering of animals with injuries from illegal poachers' wire snares, arrows, and spears and decided to do something about it. I sought and received permission to operate anti-poaching/de-snaring patrols (accompanied by the local armed authorities) in the environs of the Masai Mara National Reserve. I recruited a team of men from the local Maasai communities (who are still working with me today) who know the forests and understand the wildlife, and started operating patrols. By removing the snares, the team has saved thousands and thousands of animals from a painful death during the 12 years we have been operating.

We also assist and fund "wildlife rescues" in conjunction with Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarians to remove snares, arrows, and spears from afflicted animals. Snaring is indiscriminate so this includes elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, leopards, hyenas, hippos, warthogs, and multitudes of antelopes and gazelles. This led to working with the local communities, without whose support the wildlife would be doomed.

The Maasai's biggest challenge, living with the wildlife, is predation of their livestock, which in turn causes the lions and other big cats to be killed by them in revenge. I felt the best way to help the Maasai was to fortify their existing livestock enclosures to prevent predation. Thus, in partnership with the Maasai livestock owners, and with support from the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative and other generous donors, eight-foot chain-link fence is installed around existing livestock enclosures. This is proving to be very successful in preventing predation.

What inspires you to dedicate your life to big cats?

My passion for the wildlife—particularly the big cats—and my desire to help the Maasai protect their livestock, which is under greater threat from the predators than ever before as humans and wildlife are "thrown together" with a burgeoning population and lack of land use management. The wildlife's habitat is declining at an alarming rate.

What's a normal day like for you?

There is no normal! Each day brings its own challenges to the Anne K. Taylor Fund team with reports of predation, poaching, cattle-rustling, human-wildlife conflict, all of which have to be dealt with as they happen. If there is no extra "drama" the team will start patrols early in the morning, break in the middle of the day when activity is minimal, and return to their patrols in the evening.

To fortify the livestock enclosures, I organize for hundreds of rolls of chain-link fencing wire to be loaded on a lorry in Nairobi for transport to the Mara. My team meets the lorry and we distribute the chain-link to livestock owners who have suffered predation. People are clamoring to be "on the list" for this wire-the demand is bottomless and the need is great. I provide the chain-link as funding allows, with the Maasai partnering with me to show their commitment to this project.

Do you have a hero?

I have many heroes—all those people who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, even though this may be challenging or, in cases, fatal. Among these are Stuart Pimm, Paula Kahumbu, Wangari Maathai, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Daphne Sheldrick, all of whom are/were specifically involved with Kenyan conservation but have a worldwide audience. Without these voices our world, particularly in Kenya, would be worse off.

What's been your favorite experience in the field?

Removing snares, arrows, or spears from animals so that they no longer suffer and can heal; working with my Anne K. Taylor Fund team, from whom I learn so much.

What has been the most challenging experience?

The "politics," which always seem to be present wherever conservation is involved. Not knowing whom, at a higher level, is involved with illegal activities concerning the wildlife and environment. Further challenges are the lack of communication and little accessibility, particularly when it rains.

What are your other passions?

My family

What do you do in your free time?

Watch wildlife, walk my dog, read, travel to increase my knowledge of our world, and spend time with my family and friends.

If you could have people do one thing to help save wildlife, what would it be?

Realize that we can all do our part to save wildlife for future generations. We have to do it in small increments, otherwise it becomes overwhelming. Take the first step.

Latest Explorer News

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News

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    Kenyan Chainsaw Gang Thwarted

    Grantee Anne Kent Taylor uses funding to provide wire fencing to Kenya's Maasai herders, on the basis that if wild animals can be kept away from cattle and goats the farmers will have less incentive to kill marauding lions.

     

Project

  • anne-kent-taylor-project.jpg

    Livestock Enclosures

    Big cat populations in East Africa are rapidly declining due to retaliatory killings by pastoralists who are increasingly intolerant of livestock predation. In the Masai Mara, the problem threatens one of Africa's most famous and important lion populations.

More Online

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    Aktaylor.com

    Visit Anne's website and learn more about her work.

     

In Their Words

Realize that we can all do our part to save wildlife for future generations. We have to do it in small increments, otherwise it becomes overwhelming. Take the first step.

—Anne Kent Taylor

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