Save the Elephants is working with community conservancies and schools to help the children who live in the elephant rangelands. This is the future generation that will inherit all the economic, social and environmental challenges that we humans have created. This month we focussed on instilling in some of our youth the skills and capacity they will need to tackle the changes in our world.
Five students each from three schools that lie around Samburu National Reserve won the opportunity to take part in what will be an annual camping experience in the Reserve. Here they will learn powerful lessons in conservation, skill development and community, all would inculcated in a participatory and engaging environment. Our students were all in the same age bracket and class.
On the first day, in the company of two of their teachers they headed into the reserve where they had their first ever game drive and were tasked to identify animals. Their questions were endless and by midday, their tents were all pitched up as they settled in before having their lunch.
We had our packed lunch and thereafter gave them an extensive tour of our camp office and displays offering them a chance to know more about the activities we are engaged in at Save the Elephants (STE). There was a lot of excitement as we took them through the importance of collars and collaring with regards to planning and conservation. Later on in the afternoon, Samburu Game Reserve Community Game Warden took them out on a nature walk with a specific focus on plants, their identification and role in the ecosystem. Later, we headed back to prepare for dinner and had a bonfire session where we all shared what we had learnt with particular emphasis on creating a connection and relation to the challenges that we are all facing now.
Early the following morning after breakfast, we headed north to Kalama conservancy. Our objective on this day was for the students to learn about holistic management of flora, fauna, livestock and soil. We arrived and headed straight to the headquarters where a guide was offered to take us through the conservancy’s mission. He proceeded to talk about the conservation techniques that are on trial and those that are in full implementation within the conservancy and how these techniques benefit the community living in Kalama.
After the morning session in Kalama, we proceeded to Saruni where the students had their lunch and got to appreciate the importance of Ecotourism and its benefits to the community residing in Westgate. Later in the afternoon they had a session with Jon Trimarco, a graduate student at Colorado State University who delved into ecosystems, recycling of energy within them, how plants and animals depend on each other and the roles of these different types of interdependence in ecosystems. After dinner, a campfire was lit where rangers and members of our team from Uaso East, Westgate and Osotua shared old animal stories.
On our final day after our breakfast, we headed up to Sopa for our final nature walk with more focus on birds. We took them through the geological features present in their sorroundings as we headed down the hills into the open plains before hitting the main road right next to our camp.
By the time they arrived at camp, we had setup a video show where they watched episode One and Two of ‘Secret Life of Elephants’, a BBC series filmed with STE in 2008. We could tell they were all in awe as they got to see what elephant families go through when one of their own dies. A quick question and answer session succeeded before releasing them for their lunch break and also to allow them to pack up.
After their lunch, Jon summarized all the activities that took place during their visit as the team took down the pitched tents and packed them before their departure. At 3:00p.m we headed out of the reserve with the students on their final game drive thereafter we dropped off all the students near their home areas.
After this experience, we found out that everybody’s environment needs to be experienced to be appreciated. Many of the students had a better insight into what it takes to connect with nature and that the passion to conserve and live sustainably is all out there for everyone to acknowledge and put into practice. We were most pleased when one student mentioned that he would ensure his family gets to know everything that he learnt during his three day experience!