When Christopher Mark Lesamana, approached his teacher that June afternoon in 2013, he felt timid and afraid. He knew it was the right thing to do, but wasn’t quite sure how the authorities would take it. He had been tending his father’s cattle when he came across an elephant carcass. He thought of going directly to the Kenya Wildlife Service but reconsidered, as he did not have enough information regarding the elephant’s death. How would he approach the stern looking men? Would they accuse him of having something to do with the unfortunate event? All this uncertainty led him to his most trusted teacher, who reported the matter to Osotua Wildlife Foundation who then got in touch with Save the Elephants. A team that included the Kenya Wildlife Service officials immediately visited the site and recovered the tusks, which would have otherwise ended up in the wrong hands.
At the time, Christopher was a Standard six pupil at Lorubae Primary School, located just meters away from the Samburu National Game Reserve. Save the Elephants, through Jerenimo Lepirei our Research and Community Outreach Officer, reached out and encouraged him to continue being vigilant and to be our eyes on the ground; that his actions could mean saving the life of the elephants that his community has lived with for ages. This, it seems, was all the reassurance he needed. Later that year, he found pieces of ivory in the grazing fields, brought them to school and looked proudly as they were forwarded to the Kenya Wildlife Service.
It was after his most recent act, reporting a drowned baby elephant that had been washed away by the floods that Save the Elephants, Osotua Wildlife Foundation and Samburu National Reserve decided to celebrate and reward this young man. Now in Standard Eight, he had more than proved himself to be a brave role model and a budding conservationist, who wanted nothing but the best for elephants and his community. After a short speech urging teachers and students alike to take on conservation as a personal responsibility, he held his hard earned trophy high above his tall frame, as the rest of the school cheered him on. It had to be one of the proudest moments in his life.
We can only hope that the public recognition, trophy, brand new school uniform and a revision encyclopedia will offer some inspiration and spur other young ones to follow in Christopher’s footsteps. With such significant milestones, Save the Elephants will double its efforts in the conservation education program, conducted in close partnership with the Disney Animal Kingdom. The program offers children in schools around elephant corridors a chance to learn and experience the true significance of elephants and the ecosystems in which they exist.