Mission Africa (BBC One, January 2007) is a 12 part series which follows 15 trainees from the building trade, selected from hundreds of applicants across the UK, embarking on a difficult mission in the African Bush.
Travelling deep into the hostile frontier lands of Northern Kenya, with their expedition leader Ken Hames (Beyond Boundaries) and new foreman Nick Knowles (DIY SOS) the team find themselves in the primitive Sera Conservancy, marooned by a dry river bed with no water, and to make matters worse a bull elephant to keep them company.
Working side by side with local people the trainees have just six weeks to build an eco lodge, dig boreholes for water and help the local wildlife experts repopulate the area with animals. The team of rooky builders, electricians, plumbers and architects has no experience of surviving and working in the African bush. They have to get the build completed while satisfying the needs of the local Samburu tribal leaders who need water for their domestic stock, as well as the wildlife they have been pledged to protect.
Nick Knowles and former Special Forces Major Ken Hames put together the team, and are in charge of turning the volunteers into a united workforce. Ken, an expert on the African Frontier will also train the team as wildlife rangers.
Nick, Ken and the trainees live in tents in the bush along side the African team mates who are working with them on the site. They are protected at night by rangers protect the camp which is visited at night by elephants and lions.
As the series progresses the ranger trainees capture six giraffe to relocate to the new reserve, track rhino and tag elephant. Their training takes place at Lewa, a conservancy further south and the template for the initiative at Sera, a new community conservation area in the far north of Kenya towards the Ethiopian and Somali borders. Sera is an area that for many years has been ravaged by tribal conflict, bandits and poaching and where conservancy experts are trying to bring security, stability and prosperity to the people.
The aim of the project is to enhance the work done by conservancies to conserve wildlife and its habitat with the support of local communities. This is done through the protection and management of species, the initiation and support of community conservation and development programmes, and the education of neighbouring areas in the value of wildlife.
With wildlife encouraged back to Sera visitors, tourists and investors will come with a chance to stay at the new lodge and view the wildlife close up. It will also provide better access to water for the local community as well as work and income.