After carrying out the laid down activities, I was so glad that it was time to go back to Nairobi, where its safe from any wondering wild beasts. I never knew that two weeks later i’ll be traveling back to Samburu for the Mobile Education Unit, and this time round, for a longer period of time.
I was very excited on my way there, but at the same time, I was very nervous probably because of the fear of the unkown. Will I able to have peaceful nights this time round?, I wondered what the schools we are going to visit are like, and the children, and generally the environment too? I hoped this time round I will not experience any hallucinations.
On reaching the camp, we were so glad to once again meet the two interns (Amy and Millicent), who were going to join us for the school visits. We were able to visit the five primary schools in Samburu for the five days we were there, and to educate the primary school children about environmental conservation and mostly about elephants and their environmental importance. During that time, we were able to donate two sacks of food to a school which STE had literally helped to build from scratch, West-gate Primary School, and carry out a mammal census of Samburu National Reserve, from Samburu National Reserve Westgate to the research camp. This information was then forwarded to KWS staff, who are able to know sections of the reserve which contain different animals, for tourism purposes.
Conservation education in these schools was mainly carried out through questionnaires and by conducting films and documentaries, the main one being ‘Secret Life of Elephants”, a film documentary done by BCC and its perfectly captures the lives of the Elephants of Samburu. The main aim of the questionnaires was to get the students’ thoughts concerning different wild animals that exist around their communities, but mainly how they felt about ivory, elephants and their numbers especially because these elephants do roam at night from the reserve to the different villages situated around the reserve.
Can’t wait to finally read the analysis of the questionnaires and to finally learn of what they really have to say.
One of the key factors that must be taken into consideration when implementing community projects is community participation, and so this programme is no exception.
This whole experience in Samburu brought to my attention so many different things, among them including the challenges involved in community conservation awareness in grassroots communities. In this particular case, one of the most important tasks of the Education Programme is passing the conservation message to the adult community members. This has been a challenge mainly because of the culture and tradition of the samburu people. For instance, when a meeting or Baraza is called, only the men will come out to represent the community while the women are not allowed to attend barazas, and are mostly busy looking for water, food, firewood or even carrying out household chores.
And so as I leave Samburu this time round, I know there is still a lot that needs to be done under this programme in order for us to change the attitudes and perspectives about community conservation.
But as for the primary school kids, I am so glad that we are making progress and that we are shaping the attitudes and actions of our future leaders.