Connie Kithinji, Conservation Education Officer

Date Published

One of the main focuses of the Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Safaris – Education Programme, is to encourage former scholars to give back to their communities. In 2018, five Elephant Scholars graduated from the programme after successfully completing high school and are now supporting their communities in Samburu, Northern Kenya. Having received full financial support and mentorship through their high school studies, the students were delighted to be able to give back.

Within the network of schools that we work with, Save the Elephants/Elephant Watch Safaris Education Programme identified schools that needed human resource support for teachers. One of the schools in dire need of a teacher was Ngutuk Ongiron Primary School, where Erick Ekai, a former Elephant Scholar of Maralal High School, is now currently teaching. As a volunteer teacher at the school, Erick conducts science lessons and serves as the games teacher representative. In his service to the students, Erick inspires the young generation of Samburu, many of whom hail from difficult backgrounds, to pursue an education. He will be joining university in September 2019 to pursue undergraduate studies in Conservation Biology.

Saidimu Lesalunga, an excellent graduate of the 2018 high school class, is also giving back to students and communities within Samburu. He is currently an intern with Save the Elephants where his roles range from education work to supporting the research teams. In the Education Programme, he has been tutoring other sponsored students during the school holidays and also offering guidance on how they can improve their grades. He also joins education officers in schools to help conduct conservation education lessons and screen films. These educational experiences help children learn more about the importance of wildlife and challenges affecting their ecosystems.

In the field, Saidimu joins STE’s long-term monitoring teams to study elephant behaviour and movement.  He has also been fortunate to join the KWS Vet unit in Samburu on a few operations to treat injured wildlife in the field.

As he goes on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Human Medicine and Surgery, Saidimu is aware of the importance of giving back to his community, and inspiring more children from Northern Kenya to pursue education and promote coexistence among humans and wildlife.

Says Saidimu, “Encouraging children to protect elephants and conserve their corridors – through conservation lessons as part of  the education outreach programme, is the least I could do to give back to STE. I think giving back is a way of appreciating the good you have received from somebody. I appreciate the scholarship I have received from my sponsors through Save the Elephants and Elephant Watch Safaris. Being given the chance to encourage the current high school Elephant Scholars to work hard during the holiday tuition programme, is the best way of ensuring they suceed.”

The Elephant Scholarship Programme aims to create leaders and professionals who serve selflessly and promote sustainable livelihoods in whichever careers they wish to pursue. We thank you for your continued support of these bright, young minds!

Erick Ekai conducting a conservation education lesson

Sylvester Odiemo (left), who has been an Elephant Scholar since high school and will be graduating from University this year, in a mentorship session where he attended to interact with new scholars in 2018

Erick Ekai helping Elephant Scholars with their academic work, during a tuition and mentorship camp in April 2019

Saidimu drafting notes on the blackboard for students during a conservation education lesson