Living in Harmony with Elephants


by Desmond Kukubo, Education Officer

Date Published

I hit the ground running this month by getting our core schools in Samburu involved in the nationwide campaign titled ‘HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS.’ My aim was to get the kids writing letters to the President of Kenya to protest the ongoing elephant poaching. The devoted teachers of Girgir, Attan, Ngaremara, Lorubae and Westgate primary schools all offered their senior most class (Standard 8) to be key participants of the campaign.

I was grateful to get such a warm welcome, but what surprised me was the reaction of the other students. The standard seven students were adamant that they did not want to be left behind; they felt that they too should be included in this important campaign and therefore wrote their own letters.

An exceptional appeal was made by Robert Sunday, a student from Ngaremara Primary School. “Tourist attractions are decreasing in Kenya because the biggest crime that is being committed is the poaching of animals. I would like you to support the wildlife conservation in Kenya.”

Another student, Loibach Eyanae, wrote, “We all have to plan a campaign against elephant poaching. This is a problem facing all our wild animals and I write this letter to you to help us get rid of poaching in this country. When elephants are killed, elephant tourism decreases in our country. We want you as president to employ more Kenya Wildlife Service in our country.” These handwritten letters bring out this issue and showed how much concern, passion and understanding that school children have about elephant protection and conservation.

Still on the campaign trail, Celia Ho also asked us to get involved in her most noble venture. Celia, an exceptional Chinese 14 year-old girl, is determined to make a difference in the hearts of her people by raising awareness to stop the ivory trade. She asked for our help to get our local schools to hang up flyers with powerful messages like ‘Ivory kills People and Elephants’, ‘Don’t Buy Ivory’, ‘Tell your family’, ‘Join Us’, Our students came out and stood their ground together with Celia across the continents, beaming out this message to all who would care to listen: .”We the children of the world, ask for people to stop buying ivory and CITES to fully ban the ivory trade”.

As the campaign fever died down, we set to work on imparting new conservation knowledge on hungry minds. The Mobile Education Unit had scheduled to conduct a lesson in each of our target schools. This time, our lesson focused on adaptations and behaviour of African elephants, all dished out to the children using fun games, video clips and photos. These helped in developing the students’ understanding of the importance of elephant roles in the savannah ecosystem. We urged them to share what they had learnt about elephants with their friends and family, embedding in their minds that elephant protection is for them, and when they grow up, it will be for their children’s heritage as well. The student responses were phenomenal, with some students already having previous knowledge shared from their older friends. These lessons seem promising for the protection and conservation of elephants because the students showed a lot of interest, especially during the sessions discussing elephant behaviour and the similarities with human behaviour.