The true stories, challenges and dreams of Wildlife Rangers in Africa
Here is the story of the late Ranger Commander Lembris. He was a vital and valuable Commander of Honeyguide's Tracker Dog Unit in Tanzania. Read his unique below and learn about his legacy.
I think the first image of Lembris (to the left here) so profound. The Late Lembris walking into the distance with Tracker Dog Rocky watching intently.
We are helping www.honeyguide.org raise funds for Lembris childrens' continued education. The official campaign link is:
Additional payment options will follow, however in the meantime please visit our JustGiving page and kindly contribute what you can towards this brave Ranger's children's continued education.
We are raising funds in honor of our dear great friend, the late Commander Lembris of Honeyguide's Tracker Dog Unit, who recently died after a valiant battle against a brain tumor.
Lembris was a huge asset to Honeyguide and Big Life Foundation's Tracker Dog Unit. He was the first Commander at the outset of the program. He was selected from a cross section of rangers who competed for positions in the new dog unit based in Enduimet. Lembris passed the training with flying colours at the Canine Specialists Services training centre, which he attended with selected colleagues. He was the natural choice as Commander with a flair for leadership and a natural talent in canine management/handling. He carried out his duties with precision, ensuring the safety of the dogs and the extensive equipment associated with the highly specialized unit, which was a huge investment. Lembris was extremely popular with all the rangers, fellow commanders located at other ranger posts and at Honeyguide’s head office in Arusha.
I first met Lembris when asked by Honeyguide’s Executive Director Damian Bell, to complete some photography and journalism, embedded with different Ranger Units. Some of the Rangers were Skepticism from seeing a women photographer, which initially took some shifting. Not so with Commander Lembris.
On a hot, still afternoon both of us set off across infinite plains, with tracker dog ‘Rocky’ leading the way. Neither Lempris or Rocky slowed their pace to accommodate me. I was thankful that I had only carried two lenses and cameras. Instead Lembris talked about Rocky never looking sideways, taking it for granted that I was keeping up. Like a proud father he described Rocky as an agile, intelligent, 33 kg Alsatian dog who had been trained in bomb and drug sniffing techniques. And yet Lembris maintained strict procedures with Rocky, as his nose led us across the endless savannah grasslands, dotted with whistling thorn bushes, naturally camouflaged and annoyingly deep) holes leading to animal dens below. Dust and then more dust.
Then, although it seemed harder than finding a needle in a haystack, Rocky led us directly, right on target, to a tiny object, which had been planted hours before in the vast expanse of Ndarakai in Tanzania. Whilst Rocky was rewarded with his rubber toy, I drank hot water. Lembris was painstakingly methodical, professional and concentrated on Rocky and the ‘Gregory back-pack,’ which Rangers always carry. Packed with vital supplies including shock equipment and anti snake venom, cooled water with a special drinking bowl, first aid, and a lot more – all for Rocky!
Once back at the highly protected unit, the dogs were cared for and retired for the night in their special kennels. It was only then that Lembris, his colleagues Kayongo and Shinini settled down to a tasty stew they had cooked to share with me. For a few hours we talked ‘bush stories;’ each of us coming up with a more incredible tale than the other. Then we broke into fits of laughter at Shinini’s reaction to my sudden outburst whilst enacting an attack by a Black Mamba. Then just as quickly as the banter had begun we all retired, ready for a start before sunrise. The Rangers slept in cabins close to the tracker dogs, and I, to my tent outside the electrical fence.
During tracking with Lembris and the ensuing evening meal, a strong bond was irrevocably formed between us. I had immense respect, and admiration for Lembris and his Rangers. He is greatly missed, however he leaves behind a stirring legacy with the many Rangers he worked alongside, in addition to his close knit family and friends. Commander Kiyongo has picked up the baton as Head of the Dog Tracker Unit. He is a shining example of the excellence and vitality Lembris instilled in all his men. It was Lembris’ calm stability even in a storm, and non-judgmental approach to outsiders which left me with a lasting impression, as it did with many others. Lembris truly has left an indelible mark on all the men he worked with, his devoted family, and his many friends of which I proudly am one.
Lembris leaves behind 7 children and his wife Ann, whose eyes reflect the pain of his loss.
Honeyguide Organization asked me to help manage a fundraising campaign for Lembris children's school fees, and additional finances to assist his wife Ann on their 'shamba' small-holding.
Below is a small gallery of recent images of Lembris’ family. Lembris was only 47 when he died. He leaves behind strong and motivated children who will no doubt make both their parents proud. Both Honeyguide and Photography4Life want to help ensure this is possible with a fundraising campaign to cover the cost of his children’s continued education. These details are laid out below.
I would like to say that Honeyguide Organization and BigLife Foundation have been exemplary in supporting Lembris and the family throughout his operations and hospitalization. Now they need assistance to support Commander Lembris’ children’s continued education.
We stand united in the belief that in educating Tanzania’s young generation lays the survival of the countries wildlife and natural resources. Whether actively involved in conservation or not; their educated knowledge and views will play a key role. We appeal for your help, and your donate is greatly appreciated, to ensure that Lembris’ children play their part by finishing their education. Lembris left a lasting impression clearly reflected in his children’s own words; added here, alongside details of their on going school fee requirements.
5-Year-old Elia wants to become a Wildlife Ranger just like his father and his favorite subject at school is English. A huge plus considering the importance of communication in conservation. Elia’s Total School fees at Lerangwa Nursery: Food Ration T.shs. 50,000 Uniform T.shs. 80,000 (for 2 sets of uniforms), Health T.shs. 50, 0000
Total shs: 180,000 Equivalent Pounds: £63.00
7-Year-old Elisha would like to join the Tanzanian armed forces. He is particularly interested in dogs and is presently rearing 3 puppies, which he dedicates most of his time to, after school and chores. He is keen on Math and perhaps, he too will follow in his father’s footsteps as a dog handler.
Elish’s total annual fees at Lerangwa Primary School (form one) include: Food Rations T.shs. 50,000, Uniforms T.shs. 80,000 (2 sets of uniforms) Books T.shs. 20,000 Health T.shs. 50,000
Total T.shs: 200,00 Equivalent Pounds: £70.00
Meshack wants to become a pilot. He loves his native language Kiswahili, as well as science and geography.
Meshack’s annual fees at Lerangwa Primary School (form six) total: Food Rations T.shs. 50,000 Uniforms T.shs. 120,000 for 2 sets of uniform , Sports T.shs. 50,000 Books T.shs. 50,000, Health T.shs. 70,000
Total Tanzanian shs. 340,000
Equivalent Pounds: £120.00
Says Meshack, “I see animals as my friends just like my father, but I don't want to be a Ranger. I will keep animals for fun only”
Lempris’ only daughter 16-year-old Naomi likes History and Geography. She told us, “Daddy used to say to me that I have to study hard.” Naomi quietly went on to add, “I will always remember him, my future was deeply depended on him and his lovely work.” Naomi’s total annual fees at Namanga Secondary school (form three) are:
Food Rations T.shs. 80,000, yearly. Uniform T.shs. 120,000 for 2 sets of uniform Boarding T.shs. 150,000 for boarding school requirements, Books T.shs. 50,000 Health T.shs. 70,000 Total T.shs. 470,000 Equivalent Total in pounds: £164,000
Abednego forfeited further education to help the family when Lempris illness worsened but he plans to go back to school when possible. He is a gifted musician and wants to enroll in an arts and music college. Due to the close proximity of the Kenya border to the family homestead, he sometimes walks over to join Kenyan R&B musicians who share his passion. He plans to record the first song he’s composed, as soon as he can, in honor of his Dad.
Says Abednego, “Dad was my life and everything besides, he was a good friend to chat with and a lot of my plans depended on him. It hurts to talk about him. I was with him from the day his illness was first diagnosed right up to his last breath. We used to share a lot of life’s stories and will always remember his passion for the WMA (Wildlife Management Area) and Honeyguide’s Dog Unit. Dad lobbied us to follow in his footsteps, and perhaps one or two of us might.”
Shedrack hold’s Lempris torch alongside his older brother Eliud who is now head of the household. Shedrack takes his responsibilities very seriously and is attending St. Pius College Academy studying law (three-year diploma course).
Shedark's annual fees are T.shs:
800,000 Hostel fee T.shs. 500,000 Food Rations T.shs. 400,000 Uniform T.shs. 300,000 Stationery T.shs. 400,000 Books T.shs. 300,000 Health T.shs. 100,000
Total T.shs. 2,800,000 Equivalent Total in pounds: £981.00
Shedrack wants to be a lawyer or lecturer. Like all his brothers and sister, Shedrack had a very close rapport with his Dad. “My Dad’s work was impressive. Even at home there are always dogs, be they guards, or family members. Dad went almost everywhere with the dogs. Then finally, his passion drove him to become a Specialist Dog Handler, on which he sustained the family. The tracker dogs helped me to be where I am today, and I feel we are connected in one way or another. My passion lies with animals and their surroundings. I would like to specialize in Environmental Protection Law after completing my basics law course, and by so doing fully support conservation strategies”
Anna (aged 40) only has Primary Education education (form seven). She runs their small farm acreage including 12 cows, 12 goats 12 sheep The farm’s annual income is T.shs. 1,200,000 Ann dreams and hopes are to become a Agro-business woman. She also needs to finish the house she and Lempris started building together, and continue raising her children until they are independent.
Ann humbly told us, “I remember my husband as a dedicated father who always made time for his family. He died while struggling to finish the family house and thinking of his children's future. He always had a passion and deep determination concerning his job. He worked as a volunteer for five years in Enduimet Wildlife Management Area (WMA) until he was fully employed. I am proud of his work and the legacy he left to the conservation world. I am trying to give my kids hope and all that I can for a brighter future. However, I need assistance as the loss of my husband has been a big blow.”
Oldest son, 23 year old Eliud completed IV form school level, is a Professional Driver and basic motor mechanic. At present temporarily employed. He would like to become a professional safari driver guide, or a Ranger. To do this he would like to begin with a basic English language course and formal Ranger training. Said Eliud, “I loved and admired Dad’s work as did the whole family. His legacy will be fulfilled in me if I can live my dream”