March 22nd saw the celebration world wide of UN World Water Day 2018. This year the theme was The Answer is in Nature – a principle with which we entirely agree! The concept explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century. Here in East Africa the problems of the world water crises are in evidence every single day, and affect both people and wildlife on a daily basis.
From the severe droughts experienced in recent years, to the heavy flooding in both remote and rural areas, the challenges run deep. Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive.
Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.
These concepts are all ones we have explored this term with our Wildlife Warrior Clubs. During sessions in each school, our team has discussed the causes and impacts of flooding and drought, drought resilience and locally appropriate ways to manage and conserve water. At the end of each session, the children were set an essay relating to the theme, and given a few weeks to write and submit their entries.
We had some excellent entries from groups of children in Ura Gate Primary, Esiteti Primary and in Kachiuru Primary; we had individual entries from students in Mwaroni Primary and Esiteti Primary. The range of entries has been impressive and it has taken our team some time to work through all of them and choose ones which are worthy of special mention – so many of the essays were brilliantly written, demonstrating a remarkable grasp of the issues at hand. What was even more interesting was how much the children had understood and could discuss the issues and solutions relevant to their own local communities – ideas which we had hardly covered, but they were able to contribute from their own experience and ideas.
This month saw Mwaroni Primary School in Diani join the Wildlife Warrior Program for real. Steve and Millicent from Land & Life visited the school and had a meeting with the school committee and the staff. Once the discussion was completed, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed, ensuring both school and Land & Life are on the same page going forwards. These agreements help Land & Life to ensure that all donations received on behalf of the school are spent on worthwhile projects chosen in consultation with the school committee and the teachers. It is crucial to have these agreements, to make sure funds are spent wisely and transparently, and have maximum benefit for the whole community.
Once the admin was over, the fun could begin! Mwaroni already had its own internal wildlife and environmental club, and its members were thrilled to see further attention being paid to their interest area. With the addition of Class 7 and 8 students, the numbers of the club members increased dramatically. Steve and Millicent started the session, on Water Conservation and Drought Resilience, and screened a David Attenborough video as well. The students thoroughly enjoyed the day, and got involved in all aspects of the activities.
After the Wildlife Warrior Club session, the children sat down and immediately wrote their essays for the World Water Day essay competition – too eager to wait until they got home, they handed in their entries before Steve and Millicent even had time to pack up!
While we always enjoy holding these sessions, this one was a particular joy. The children were so incredibly excited, and it is great to be a part of something as exciting as bringing a new school on board. The future success of the Program here in Diani depends on a regular flow of donations to support the school infrastructure and the conservation education activities here. If you or someone you know has a particular interest in Diani and its locale, or simply would like to help these bright young students grow and learn, please do click here and make a contribution. We are grateful for every donation :)
Across Kenya the new year got underway with a raft of new Wildlife Warrior Club members taking part in their first sessions. At our existing schools Ura Gate, Ololomei, and Embiti Steve and Millicent from Land & Life dropped by for a day of fun activities, watching videos and playing games all focused on water conservation. Everyone had a good time and came up with some great ideas on drought resilience and water conservation, relevant to their own locations.
In an exciting development, this month we added Kachiuru Primary to the Wildlife Warrior Club network. Although we have had an existing relationship with this school for some time in terms of school infrastructural support we had not yet conducted any conservation activities. So we are delighted to announce 21 new Wildlife Warrior Club members from Kachiuru! They very much enjoyed their session and we look forward to developing this relationship further.
In the run up to World Water Day on March 22nd, all the schools are competing in a nationwide writing competition where students will be coming up with essays covering water conservation approaches and related ideas. The essays will be collected in and marked by the Land & Life team and a special expert in the field, and the winners will be announced around World Water Day itself.
In Tanzania, students from Ganako Primary Wildlife Warrior Club had taken part in an essay competition, writing on “My career in conservation” The eight top essays were selected by the Head Office Land & Life team, and the students along with their teacher were collected by a driver and brought up to the Manor Ngorongoro
Once on site at the lodge, General Manager Jani Scheffer her team made a special effort to give them a wonderful afternoon. They walked the grounds, met the horses, saw the fields and the vegetables, and finally were settled down for a fancy afternoon tea with cake and lovely treats prepared by Chef Benjamin. The students ha da lovely time, and so did the staff, who really enjoyed watching the chi0dlren’s faces as they stroked the nose of the horse and tucked into cakes and pastries.
We are doubly proud top report this because it is a great way to start a New Year – the first Wildlife Warrior Club visit to the Manor and we are sure the beginning of a regular event. Thanks go out to the Manor who did such a great job and of course as ever to our sponsors and donors, whose support of Ganako via Land & Life has made these things possible.
In the first week of January the Land & Life team split up and travelled across Kenya to visit schools participating in the flagship Wildlife Warrior Program. This exciting program brings conservation education to primary schools utilising a fun and engaging club membership system, and culminates in the awarding of scholarships for secondary education to the brightest young people in each Wildlife Warrior club.
This year saw the awarding of 8 new scholarships, four to boys and four to girls. The awards went to the children who not only performed well in the National Examinations but also scored very highly in our Wildlife Warrior examination, focused on conservation and wildlife topics directly relevant to their communities. These children will receive support throughout their secondary education in the form of 75% of their school fees paid, with some of them receiving additional support to purchase uniform or supplies; all are brought together once a year to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy to enjoy the Annual Retreat, the opportunity of a lifetime to experience the wonders of Lewa and learn in the company of other bright young conservationists. The Wildlife Warrior Program takes the brightest young students with an interest in and passion for conservation and wildlife and ensure they pass through school and are given every opportunity to succeed, bringing benefits to their families and communities and ensuring conservation has a voice at the table in future community discussions.
Participating schools this year were Ololomei Primary School (Elephant Pepper Camp), Esiteti Primary School (Tortilis Camp), Ura Gate Primary School (Elsa’s Kopje) and Kachiuru Primary School (Elsa’s Kopje). The scholars were awarded their official Wildlife Warrior t-shirts, and also each were given a large trunk in which to keep all their goods as they start their new life as boarders at secondary schools across the country.
If you would like to support the Wildlife Warriors and contribute towards these bright young students education, please do click here and donate, specifying the Wildlife Warrior Program as your preferred project.
The first week of December saw old friends visiting Esiteti Primary School near Tortilis Camp in Amboseli, Kenya.The founders of the A E Reimann Foundation, which is funded by SKAL International, visited the school to observe the progress of their classroom project and to visit and catch up with some of the 29 students they are funding through school.
The double classroom is due for completion this week, with only the plastering now remaining. The donors were delighted with the progress and have now donated a further sum to add an additional classroom. These three classrooms will house approximately 120-150 students, helping Esiteti grow further.
Another exciting project on the books is an outdoor classroom, developing a small shamba or farm to help the students learn about agriculture while providing food for the school itself. More on this exciting development to come…
The Annual Wildlife Warrior Retreat was held this year on 13-17 November at the wonderful Lewa Conservation Education Centre. This event takes place every year and brings together the bright young students who are studying under the Wildlife Warrior Program Scholarship scheme, with a passion for conservation these young people are the future of wildlife conservation and habitat preservation in East Africa.
This year we hosted 27 students and their 5 patrons for a full three days at Lewa, participating in this year’s theme Water Conservation. The young people took part in drama and role plays, which they wrote and performed themselves; they experienced the wonders of wildlife through a day of game drives, accompanied by experienced conservation educators and wildlife guides; they received mentoring and guidance sessions from Land & Life team and the Centre education professionals; and of course they had lots of fun.
The Annual Retreat is a crucial part of the Wildlife Warrior Program, keeping the young students interested and engaged in conservation throughout their secondary schooling. The team from Lewa CEC, inspired and professional, help the students to understand the possibilities of good wildlife and habitat management and highlight the challenges faced. The recurring event helps to develop a network of bright young people from geographically diverse areas, but all sharing the common experience of living in or near conservation areas. Mentoring of the students as they progress through their education and feeding in new concepts and new problem-solving and partnership skills is a vital part of helping them develop into strong conservation aware voices for their communities. Whether they be teachers, rangers, doctors or carpenters, they will be leaders within their communities, giving wildlife a voice at the table.
For more information please see the Land & Life website or Facebook page, and to make a contribution to the Wildlife Warrior Program and help more bright students benefit, please make a donation here.
Ganako Primary School in Karatu, Tanzania has once again received a generous book donation. This donation came from from Ken Kurzweil and Suzanne Sunday who visited The Manor Ngorongoro earlier in the year. Thanks to their generosity, Land & Life was able to purchase 260 text books and 10 teacher’s books for the school.
The school committee have asked for our help in building a kitchen. The existing structure is built of wooden planks and poles, and is extremely basic.