On 1 October 2019, a self-funded team of 16 women from around the world will embark on a pioneering expedition to trek 100km across Northern Kenya’s remote Matthews range. The trail has never been attempted before and will take the group and its safari camel train on a new passage across the mountains. The team, coming together under the banner of ‘HER Planet Earth’ – a non-profit organisation headquartered in Singapore dedicated to gender equality and environmental conservation – aims to raise a combined total of US$150,000 for Conservation International (CI), a charity that works to protect nature for the benefit of humanity.
HER Planet Earth, now in its third year of operation, raises awareness and funds via challenging expeditions across the globe. Pioneering in nature, they support organisations that champion underprivileged women affected by climate change to help empower and advance their life and community. Recent HER Planet Earth expeditions have taken all-female teams to remote islands in the Philippines, Mountains in Antarctica and to the largest caves in the world in Vietnam.
Guided by expert tracker Kerry Glen and accompanied by Samburu or Laikipia Maasai guides, the women will be trekking along tough but varied terrain, including sandy river beds, ancient elephant tracks, old growth forest, plains and hilly peaks. The expedition will range at altitudes from 3,500ft to 5,000ft (or 1,000 to 1,600 metres) and in daily temperatures that could fluctuate between 10 to 30 degrees Centigrade. The team will be up early, before sunrise, walking 5-6 hours every day to reach the next camp and can expect to see big game on the walking safari.
The Matthews Range in North Kenya
The Matthews Range, also known as the Lenkiyio Hills, rises up out of the semi-desert, a chain of peaks covered in dense dewy forest. Dubbed a ‘biological bonanza’ by the BBC, this mountain forest is a stronghold for a wide range of species including the melanistic leopard (also known as the black panther), elephant, Colobus monkey, greater kudu, waterbuck and giant forest hogs. More than 200 bird species have been counted in the area along with more than 150 species of butterflies.
During the expedition, HER Planet Earth will meet the fascinating Samburu people, semi-nomadic pastoralists who are cousins to the Maasai. With the continent challenged by economic and political under-development, Northern Kenya is a great model for community-driven co-management of shared natural resources set in the most ancient landscape of human and animal co-habitation on the planet. The funds raised will go to support a range of projects focusing on gender equality including the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary – the first community-owned and mainly female operated elephant sanctuary in Kenya, the expansion of eco-tourism facilities and the establishment and support of a mobile anti-poaching team for the region. The group will also work with grantees in Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, including Vulcan Earth Ranger, in collecting information on activities, animals and assets in protected areas to help conservationists. Wildlife that is traded legally through the pet and collector market is a growing multi-billion-dollar industry, yet it currently lacks the proper technologies and tools needed, opening the way for increased illegal wildlife trade and in many ways the source of why animals need to be protected in the first place. Conservation International is expanding on the work being done to monitor animals on the ground by developing and implementing wildlife enforcement and regulatory application that will provide customs agents new technology-based solutions designed to ensure only legally traded pet species are flowing through border points. Conservation International will continue to partner with organisations such as Microsoft to address the holistic conservation issues being faced.
Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, Senior Vice President of Conservation International’s Africa Field Division said: “Conservation International is excited by this remarkable expedition put together by our partner ‘HER Planet Earth’. It provides a unique opportunity for an adventurous group of women from across the world to connect directly with the rich but threatened mosaic of wildlife, landscape and people in remote Northern Kenya, while supporting a model of community-led conservation that delivers tangible and sustainable benefits including peace and security, enhanced incomes and women empowerment and resilience.”
He added: “ We are truly honoured that the communities and women that we work with across Northern Kenya will benefit significantly from the awareness and funds that this exceptional expedition will provide.”
“While climate change is a global phenomenon, its impact is not spread across a level playing field. Its effects are felt locally, and poor people suffer the most. Among the world’s 1.3 billion people living in poverty, the majority are women. It is vital we empower more women to play a central role in decision-making at all levels of society. Only then will environmental sustainability become a true reality,” said HER Planet Earth Founder & CEO, Christine Amour-Levar, who wants to see ‘gender’ at the heart of climate action.
Neal Chandaria, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Kenya in Singapore said, “We are very grateful for the effort of Her Planet Earth and their team of committed women who will be raising funds for community conservation in Northern Kenya later this year. It is always encouraging to work with such passionate individuals and we’re excited to see this remarkable trip coming together for the benefit of people and wildlife in our beautiful country, Kenya. For over 30 years Conservation International has worked to protect Nature and now, more than ever, it is crucial for us all to value and protect nature for the benefit of human wellbeing.”
HER Planet Earth’s objective is to inspire people to leave their comfort zones, families and homes for a certain period of time, while pushing their limits in an effort to rally support for a worthy cause. At the core of the organisation’s culture is a commitment to empower underprivileged women, a passion for adventure and a deep respect and love of nature. HER Planet Earth seeks to take participants on pioneering, self-funded, expeditions around the world, so that they can make new discoveries, flourish as individuals, but most importantly, contribute to society. By travelling in such challenging conditions, the team hopes to bring international attention to the need for societies, governments and corporations to get involved and help support climate action and women empowerment.
To donate to the mission please visit the team’s fundraising page here.
Photos: Conversation International and HER Planet Earth