Moulding Future Conservation Champions!
Report written by Lemayian Kennedy, Schools and Education Program Officer
Learning in a classroom for long periods of time proves difficult for most students at least occasionally. It becomes tedious when such lessons are only undertaken theoretically without practical sessions. Exposure compliments the ability of pupils to comprehend facts and easily grasp information that mostly tends to stick in their memories for ages. Coming very close to wild animals in the parks elicits enthusiasm, joy and fun for most pupils who despite living near Tsavo East National Park, rarely get the opportunity to experience the wilderness. Academic field trips compliment the general knowledge among school pupils where they increase awareness and expand a positive conservation perspective. Outdoor activities, such game drives, augment the Elephant and Bees Education Project class lessons, especially Lesson 10: Elephants and Elephant Range Land.
Living around the vast Tsavo East National Park (TENP), pupils tend to come across elephants and other wild animals in negative situations, especially through human-elephant conflict (HEC). Elephants often raid crops in their farms, blocking the very roads they use to access school, which in turn results in delayed learning. To them therefore, having a rare opportunity of viewing these animals portraying their natural behavior in the wild, such as elephants’ greetings, feeding, chasing and allomothering (caring for non-genetically related infants), all in the comfort of game vehicles remains a lifetime experience.
Last weekend, the E&B Education Program partnered with the Kenya Wildlife Service (who provided a sixty sitter game drive bus) and engaged the wildlife club members of Kileva Eastfield Primary School during a field trip to TENP. Kileva Eastfield is a partner school with which the E&B Project has had long interactions. The educational field trip sought to embolden their conservation awareness across the vast Tsavo National Park, the largest wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. We are so grateful to Disney Conservation Fund for providing the financial support to make these kids dream a reality of visiting Tsavo East National Park. The trip was just after the usual long rains thereby allowing captivating scenery within. Partnering with KWS officers, with seasoned experience about the park, was a huge boost. They explained to the pupils the behaviors and ecological characteristics of the various wildlife species encountered. They also tackled the importance and threats facing protected areas. The session was so interactive and lively that the pupils kept asking questions, ultimately to our joy.
Mudanda Rock, a prime attraction site characterized by huge elongated rock outcrop that towers over the landscape, elicited fun moments as the pupils couldn’t imagine such amazing scenery. The massive rock is very special to the very way of life of the indigenous hunter and gatherer Waliangulu Community. Since time immemorial, they have used it to dry meat hunted from wild animals. Beneath the rocks is a water point where elephants and major wildlife congregate to drink and cool themselves.
It was fascinating for the students and the entire crew to have packed lunch at the top of Mudanda rock, and the cool breeze refreshed the entire team. This was the perfect time to revise with the pupils the elephant behaviour checklists provided in group discussions and ultimately fun games such as “who’s that animal?”, and charades.
To cap it all, a rare visit to the Voi Wildlife Safari Lodge was captivating. This is where elephants mostly assemble and it’s easy to watch the jumbos (elephants) very close, from the comfort of a security viewing tunnel. Pupils were just amazed! Coming so close to these Pachyderms very calm and relaxed, exhibiting their natural ways of life curiously caught the attention of everyone. One such student was William, who has always known elephants as trouble makers who raid crops and cause conflicts in his grand-father Wabongo’s home!
Little ones are nature lovers. At their age, they are overwhelmingly receptive and thus easily grasp information imparted to them. Such positive attitudes and knowledge remain ingrained in their memories forever. Therefore, when carefully engaged in conservation, they become future voices for our wildlife. Save The Elephants’ Elephants and Bees Project continues to shape tomorrow’s jumbo champions, who will consecutively build bridges between man and elephants, ultimately becoming local actors yet global thinkers. Together we all need to be informed. All thanks to Disney DCF grant for their generous support!