Painting Ngare Mara Primary School


Sarah Jacobson International Intern

Date Published

This was sadly my last week interning for STE but it’s been a good one! This past weekend I was able to experience the community side of STE when a group of students from the UK came to paint a school with our education program. We had a full camp with people coming up from the Nairobi office to help. On Saturday the group of students came to learn about and experience the research done at camp. They had kindly raised money to donate to our camp as well! The group of 24 students and trip leaders were given a tour of the center and presentations about research. Lucy presented about her bee studies and Shifra presented about her study of social interactions in disturbed elephant groups. The students were very interested and had many questions about the projects. After lunch different groups of students were able to participate in mammal censuses and long term monitoring in the reserve. It was a successful day and the students seemed to really enjoy it. The next day we set out to get an early start on painting a primary school in Ngare Mara, about 40 km from the reserve. The student group from the UK provided a ton of paint to brighten up the classrooms and paint a mural on one of the walls. Almost everyone from camp came to paint as well. The walls of the school and inside the classrooms were brown with dust and cracking when we arrived. We spent all day painting with the help of some community members and school children. It felt so good to cover up those walls with a fresh coat of white paint and repaint the windows and doors bright blue. The young kids seemed so excited about the new look to their classrooms and enjoyed painting their shoes as well! We were able to paint the inside and outside walls of four classrooms and then some community members took the leftover paint and continued to paint other buildings. The mural on the wall of the school turned out very nicely with a design of an elephant and other wildlife in harmony with children to try to promote conservation. It was a great day and ended with a huge game of soccer with the community. Tired, dusty and covered in paint, we all returned to camp in the evening feeling quite accomplished.

Another exciting event was our observation of the bull Matt mating a female in estrous. He is the male with the biggest tusks in the park who we recently collared. He has been in musth for the past 2 months and we’ve seen him hanging around different females but never actually mating. A few days ago we came across him in a big group of elephant families, but noticed he was guarding one female in particular, Ringlet. We watched him following her while we identified all the other elephants in the group. After some time we heard her family start to rumble and trumpet and we noticed him chasing her around a bush. Finally she slowed down so he could mount her. It was amazing to see that huge bull mounting the female that he dwarfed without crushing her. The whole family was trumpeting and running around in celebration during the mating and Ringlet’s temporal glands streamed excessively. Afterwards the whole family rested in the shade together with Matt. I hope that she was impregnated and Matt’s good genes will be passed on!

I have had an amazing experience interning with Save the Elephants and I am sad to leave! Life at the research camp has been wonderful and I’ve met many great people. I believe that this internship has given me a true taste of life as a field researcher and sparked my interest for future pursuits in elephant research. Thank you STE and I hope to come back someday!