Celebrating the triumph of an Elephant Scholar


Connie Makandi, Conservation Education Officer

Date Published

Eleven years ago, a very bright Samburu boy from Oldonyiro, was lucky to be among the few students who were identified and enrolled to the Save the Elephants/Elephant Watch Scholarship Program. It has been an awe-inspiring journey for everyone here at STE/EWS to walk with him, one of our academic stars, and see him grow into a leader! After all these years of hard work, this week we are gathering at the University of Nairobi to witness and celebrate the incredible achievement of Benjamin Ltibikishe Loloju, one of our Elephant Scholars, as he is awarded his First Class Bachelors’ degree in Geospatial Engineering. This is no ordinary young man, but a pro-active, determined and humble one, whose extra-ordinary potential was seen in 2005, when he joined the Elephant Scholarship program.

When I think of determination, I think of Benjamin. His journey has not been easy. Oldonyiro, where he comes from, is a remote village in Isiolo County, located on a vital elephant corridor that links elephants between Samburu and Laikipia Counties. The livelihood of the people here is pastoralism, and most boys begin cattle herding at their early years of youth, and move around with their fathers in search of pasture. Benjamin, fortunately, was not so good in herding was not productive enough in the field and therefore, he was forced to attend school. This truly was not in vain. Despite the very long treks that he had to take to school, he was always in the cream of his class, as well as in his final primary school examinations, which opened doors for high school. Having lost his father and his mother had a large family to raise, his dreams of getting education (especially at the prestigious high school that he managed to secure) were fading away. It was during this time that Save the Elephants/Elephant Watch Safaris found Benjamin and since then Save the Elephants became his second family, and he became our academic star, as well as an elephant ambassador! Despite having grown up and attending a rural school, Benjamin managed to go to a top national school in the city, and his determination doubled. Always on the top cadre and as a leader, he excelled all through and it was no different in his final high school exams. He made us proud by making it to the top most students in the whole country!! We could not be more proud of him!!

In his career, he has chosen to save the elephants that he says, are the reason he managed to get to where he is today. After a five year Geospatial engineering course, Benjamin has now joined the GIS team here at Save the Elephants, and is now hands on interacting with the tracking elephants’ movements in Samburu. He has gone back to the grassroots, not only to do his work as a GIS technician but also to help in community building. Through mentoring other young Elephant Scholars, we have seen incredible improvement and desire to want to be like him. He is a mentor and role model to so many children in Northern Kenya – The power of education to transform ones life, should never be underestimated.

Benjamin’s sponsors Kirsten McLeod, and Ed & Jenny Smith, have walked with him at different stages of his education journey. They have truly transformed his life and helped him expand his possibilities in life. We really appreciate their support, and the amazing generosity of so many supporters who are giving the Samburu children a chance to get education. And you too can make a difference in the life of another bright and needy child, just like Benjamin! His sponsors believed in him, and gave him an opportunity to build a future. Join us and support a child from the vast elephant rangeland of Samburu!