Jerenimo in the Snow


Jerenimo Lepirei, Research & Outreach Officer

Date Published

In mid March I returned to the States for the second leg of my Emerging Wildlife Leaders Training, this time to be held in Jacksonville, Florida. To add a twist to my trip, Dr. George Wittemyer had invited me to visit with him and his students at Colorado State University. This time around, I was returning to the US with a feather in my cap. With the skills I had gained from the first EWCL training, I have designed and initiated a successful counter-poaching community awareness program in Samburu that uses  ex-poachers to spread the word. Returning to the course I was looking forward not only to learning more, but also to share my experiences about how my campaign was working.

We got off to a good start, covering over 40 topics at breakneck speed. We learned about Policy response to the wildlife trade crisis and international conservation. I got a chance to inform the group about Save the Elephants’ part in the Clinton Global Initiative, and also about my own campaign at home.

Emerging leaders class 5 (2014)

The Power of Collaboration

One of my most memorable sessions was on collaboration, which I found most useful for my work with government officials in Samburu. I learned that in order to work without hiccups I needed to understand what motivates my counterparts and to involve them in mutually beneficial activities instead of taking a combative stance as I have sometimes seen happening in other organizations.

I felt strong camaraderie with everyone in the room whether from India or the US, as they too had experienced very similar difficulties (especially with data collection and verification).  I also learnt a lot about the value of forming powerful networks, and I am keen to put this into practice during the meetings and conferences I attend in future. Then there was the On-Camera Media Training, where we had an interactive session about the power of conveying information clearly, succinctly and accurately. This was my favorite session and the lessons I learnt here I will definitely share with my peers.

My Classmates

Expert guest speakers then facilitated informal discussions on everything from one-on-one mentorship programs to conducting conservation efforts in the Northern Saharan Desert. All the sessions were awesome and intensive. During my free time, I felt like a mini celebrity! Everyone was happy about how the STE anti-poaching campaign came up and they requested to me to send the updates on the progress, some of which will go into EWCL reports.

The second part of my trip was truly an adventure as I went to Denver Colorado to meet George Wittemyer (Chair of STE’s Scientific Board) at Colorado State University. While there, I made my debut in the university classroom, speaking about Save the Elephants’ projects. I sat in on two classes and felt like a sponge for all the information on human wildlife dynamics and wildlife management.

George took me out to the Rockies where for the first time in my life, I saw snow! It was incredible. I walked on icy lakes and through thick snow with elk and big horn sheep. The excitement made my feet freeze… or maybe that was the snow! All I can say at the end of the trip was “What an amazing opportunity!” As always, I will use all I learnt to better my research work and the outreach program, but the memories will stick with me for the rest of my life.