Chyulu Hills, Kenya : Big Life in the Wild
Earl and Craig embark on an adventure that starts in Nairobi, Kenya and ends at a wildlife ranger base in a remote region of the Chyulu Hills. The Good Road team joins a convoy of land rovers and motorcycles helmed by TED Fellow Erik Hersman and his fellow BRCK co-founders on this grand expedition. BRCK is a for-profit tech company based in Nairobi with the mission to provide free internet access across the continent of Africa. BRCK is attempting to solve all kinds of different problems and create new opportunities for anyone in remote areas ignored by big internet service providers. First stop on the expedition was the Big Life Foundation HQ, an Anti-Poaching organization where we met up with Craig Millar. Craig was made famous through the documentary film The Ivory Game , but, more importantly, he is an anti-poaching security chief for the Big Life Foundation. Flying a prop plane to work and chasing elephant poachers is Craig’s daily routine. Craig toured us through the park which led to a memorable encounter with the world’s largest elephant, Tim. After getting a sense of the work Big Life Foundation does, Craig and Earl follow BRCK to a remote anti-poaching camp where rangers from the Big Life Foundation and Kenyan Wildlife Service track animals and monitor poachers eager to kill and profit from elephants and black rhinos. The BRCK team installs hardware and software to provide the rangers fast and accessible internet access where it had been impossible before. After going on patrol with the rangers there is word of an incident and the arrest of a poacher. Craig and Earl discover that the issue of poaching isn’t as clean cut as you might imagine. It is a matter of life and death not just for the animals but also for the poor, desperate farmers protecting their farms or just trying to eat. The episode concludes at sunset on a plain with Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance with “sundowners” (A kenyan tradition the whole group can get behind). Earl, Craig, the BRCK team and the rangers chat about what is possible through combining modern technology with anti-poaching efforts in the information age.
Big Life was the first organization in East Africa to establish coordinated cross-border anti-poaching operations. Since its inception, Big Life has expanded to employ hundreds of Maasai rangers. With more than 40 permanent outposts and tent-based field stations, tracker dogs, and aerial surveillance units, it protects 2 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem of East Africa.
Everyone should have the ability to take advantage of the global digital economy. We want to level the playing field for those who can’t pay for it.