Celebrating World Wildlife Day
Field Report by Intern Jessica Murage, Elephants and Bees Project
This year World Wildlife Day fell on the 3rd of March and was celebrated under the theme “Forests and livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet”, as a way to highlight the central role of forests, forest species and ecosystems services in sustaining the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people globally, and particularly of Indigenous and local communities with historic ties to forested and forest-adjacent areas.
This plays a part in Sustainable Development Goals as it alleviating poverty, ensuring sustainable use of resources, and on conserving life land. This is because for most communities, the existence of their forest is either directly or indirectly linked with their social economic status. They act as a source of raw materials, medicine and food which they can trade.
We celebrated World Wildlife Day by involving the women and the children in the community. We had agreed with the Mlambeni basket weaver’s chairwoman Clemence that the women would watch a documentary film. We found the women sat and ready by 8.30 am in the hall at the new Mlambeni Ndovu Women’s Eco Enterprise Centre which was quite impressive. It took us a few minutes to set up, after which we started the film right away.
The film was about Prof Wangari Maathai. We cannot celebrate our forests as a country or talk about conserving them without mentioning this incredible woman, it just isn’t possible. It’s because of the fights she fought that we still have Karura Forest and Uhuru Gardens. She was and still remains an icon, our first female Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize Winner!
The film clearly showed the need to plant trees as we are inherently linked to our forests. When the trees are gone so will our rivers, our firewood, our food and consequently our source of livelihood. It showed how much destruction happened during the colonial and post-colonial era when forests ownership was taken from the communities that had ties with them and were in the hands of the government. The sure way to protect our forests is to directly involve the native communities who have a sense of kinship with the trees.
The women learnt that when forests are destroyed, they are the ones more likely to be affected. Our audience consisted of members of the Mlambeni basket weavers after all. They source some of their raw materials from long grass and reeds.
Esther, the Women’s Enterprise Center Project Officer and I gave a small talk after the film and urged them to ensure that the spaces around them are clean and not littered. We advised them not to be intimidated or scared and to take up space when it comes to conservation. To plant more trees during the rainy season and nature the already existing ones. You could see the determined look on the women’s faces as they left. It is our hope that these women will go home and educate their families and that will be a small win.
In the afternoon Victor, the Community Livelihoods and Food Security Assistant, showed ‘Planet Earth’ to class 4-8 students from Kileva Primary School. The kids absolutely loved watching an episode of ‘Planet Earth’, you could see their excitement at learning new facts. They already understood he value of trees in terms of producing Oxygen, timber, habitat, medicine etc. It was quite impressive.
They were shown the importance of forest ecosystems and animals that live within them, and had a stimulating chat with Victor. One girl said she must climb the Hyperion. Me too girl. Me too!
All in all, the kids had a good time, the giggles themselves were a tell.
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