A Ranger’s Story of how his life evolved.
Magunga JaKaruoth is at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. ”I was a morani in ’97 and life in Laikipia was one big party. All we did was sing, look after livestock and then sing some more. Hair braided and dyed with red mud, we’d go to a boma somewhere and woo girls with our voices. Then word came that my brother who was working at Lewa as a vet had found me a job. I did not want that job. What for? I had everything I needed.
My father sent for me again for like the third time and my fellow moranis said, “Ero, just go. Do not invite your father’s curse for nothing.” So I went.
The old man had my ID ready. Took it and went to where my elder brother worked. ”Wewe umekuja kukua askari ama morani?” My brother asked as soon as I arrived, pointing at my red braids. I was given water and soap to wash it off and run straight to the interview. We were three guys and I was the youngest. Then we were showed the animal we were to take care of. It was a baby rhino. I had never seen it before, really. But it was just one. ”Wapi faru wengine?” I asked. Because a moran can look after a herd of 1000 cows, no problem. So why were we put the three of us to chunga one animal. Kwanza a baby one!!!! The faru was an orphan. The other two moranis were chungaing this faru the way we chunga livestock. When it went astray, they hit him with their walking sticks. So it did not like them. Me when I kept singing and jumping and missing my life as a morani, this baby faru kept chilling around, visibly entertained.
At first this baby faru annoyed me. It would never leave me alone. “Aaaah! Si mshike hii kitu inanifuatafuata aje bwana. Ala!! “ One month later, the boss comes and lines us up next to the calf. We are to walk about 20 steps, and see which one the calf follows. The first morani went, the calf stayed. Second one the same. Then the moment I began walking, the calf jogged after me. When I stopped, he stopped. When I sat, he came and cuddled by my feet. That is how he was assigned to me. “Huyu amekuchagua. Wewe sasa ndio mama yake.” And that is how we hit it off.
It was not love at first sight, just love at first love. I never wanted to go back home even, because now who will take care of my baby? Of course he grew up into a big black beauty, round like a globe and with horns to kill for (though not on my watch). He walked like he was dancing. And then I had to let him go. He was translocated to a different park, and when he went, he went with a portion of me. He broke my heart the way sons do to their mothers when they leave the nest. I stayed in Lewa, though.
It has been 21 years. I got promoted over the years. Now I am a commander in the Anti poaching unit, the dog section. I have 4 dogs; Tony, Tipa, Jack and Sack.
Sometimes, when people are not watching, we sing. And I tell them stories of my first born, faru.”
David Piroris (Commander, Dog Unit)