A Living Wall is Born
by Christy Ihlo -- August 6th, 2012
I awoke to a cool and cloudy morning, quickly breakfasted, and then joined Paulo for a ride to the village of Emboret. Today’s task – take photographs and video of a new living wall being installed. The ride to Emboret is shorter today than a couple of days ago when Jen and I went along for the chain link fence delivery. We were in the smaller truck and were able to take a more direct route to the village center, rather than through Narakauwo which lies to the east. When we arrived, we found the owner already clearing the existing boma of thornbushes so the chain link can be attached. I came armed with two still cameras, two tripods, and a flipcam as Buddy and Laly requested some time-lapse photography, video, and still shots – I think I looked far more impressive with all the gear than I felt! I set about collecting the requested media as TPW’s staff members began their task. First, they trimmed unwieldy branches of the commiphora trees that form the posts of the current boma. Commiphora forms the basis of the living wall. These trees are pretty unique in that you can chop off a branch, plant it, and it will grow roots and form a new tree. Once the commiphora was adequately prepared, they dug a trench, perhaps 8 inches or so deep around the outside of the boma.
The chain link comes next, stretched as tight as possible around the commiphora and secured with nails. Finally, the trench is filled back in to secure the chain link fencing below ground.
Thornbush branches are placed inside the boma for the first few days as the cows are not used to the chain link fence and do not recognize it as a barrier. Once the rainy season returns, the commiphora will once again begin to grow, surrounding the chain link support with thorny branches – a living wall! TPW supplies and installed the chain link, but the owner is responsible for collecting and planting the commiphora posts for the boma. I attracted quite a bit of attention with all my camera equipment, particularly from the children! They loved the flipcam, especially when they heard themselves speaking on a video playback. This worked slightly to my disadvantage as I set up the flipcam to record a section of living wall being installed and then looked over to discover the kids running back and forth in front of the camera while others watched them on film. That section of video might require some additional editing! But it was worth it to see how excited they were. They have probably never heard themselves speak on a recording before and may never have the chance again. Living Walls are an integral part of APW’s efforts to mitigate conflict between the Maasai herders and lions. They are an example of a very simple, yet incredibly effective solution to a complicated problem.