Traditional blacksmithing research

We began the next phase of the Maasai cultural heritage assistance project—Fire & Steel: Traditional blacksmithing in pastoral cultures. In November 2013 we spent two weeks traveling in northern Kenya's Samburu country and in northern Tanzania's Lake Eyasi region seeking out blacksmiths who are still creating knives, spears, tools, and jewelry using goatskin bellows and handmade tools. Hope to return in the future for a longer expedition to record at least 5 communities with traditional blacksmiths, researching their techniques and their complex relationships with their pastoral counterparts. These images are from Wamba, in the Samburu region of northern Kenya.

Maasai cultural conservation project: Shield book

Click to see larger imageWe have finalized the print and digital versions of a 112-page book detailing the work of the October 2012 shield-building workshop in southern Kenya. This book is the final visual product we have created for the Maasai community that initiated the cultural conservation program. We are printing 125 copies and are delivering them to the Maasai in November 2013. 

Special thanks to all those who contributed to the project. Participants, donors, and those who provided assistance are listed below. Ashe o'leng. Thank you.

Sample pages from the shield book, which is available for purchase on our MagCloud account for $34.95 in beautiful full-color print (bonus: the print version includes a free digital version; shipping is extra) or $9.95 for a digital download (PDF, web version, or iPad app): 

Location: Olkiramatian Community of South Rift, Kenya; Lale'enok Resource Centre

With artisans:

Tonkei ole Rimpaine, Karinte ole Manka, Ntetiyian ole Pasoi, Sipala ole Mpoe, Kelempu ole Ntetiyian, Mariketi ole Kalempo, Rijano ene Ntetiyian, Majakus ene Saitaga, Bebi ene Mugesa, Moyiangei ene Sampao

With assistance from: John Kamanga, project manager; Albert Kuseo, Joel Njonjo, Jackson Kaiseyie, Guy Western

African Conservation Centre, Nairobi,  Lucy Wariungi, director, and Dr. David Western, chairman

Elizabeth Loker and Clinton Lucy

Flight & Safaris International, Winnie Akinyi

British Museum, Centre for Anthropology, Catherine Elliott, Jim Hamill, and Christopher Spring

Funding provided by donors of ConserVentures Charitable Organization: Dr. Edward Beggy, Carol Keyser, Doug Mote, Brian DeArmon, R.J. Stappel, Terry & Charlie Beggy, Steve Hayden, Diane Boyer, Tom & Celeste Hanagan, Clay Knight, and with support from

For more information please visit: (South Rift Association of Land Owners) 

Conservation Expedition: First groundtruthing of South Rift Safari Circuit

Six ConserVentures volunteers spent 2 weeks in Kenya, the first "tourists" to drive the South Rift Safari Circuit to test the concept for the South Rift Association of Land Owners, also known as SORALO (working in collaboration with African Conservation Fund). Traveling self-contained in rented Land Cruisers and lead by John Kamanga of SORALO, the team explored regions of the South Rift's Maasailand little visited by outsiders. After the trip, the team prepared an extensive report and recommendations for developing the route as a tourist destination (report available upon request to groups or institutions looking to complete similar projects). A magazine story about the trip was also released in an international travel publication. Photo gallery of the expedition, click here.