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Conservation education for communities in Kenya 

May 23, 2024

In 2023, Enrita – Leader of Marwell’s Northern Kenya Grevy’s Zebra Project – was excited to recommence engagement with herders and welcome two new schools as part of her conservation outreach programme, whilst also providing literacy and numeracy sessions for community scouts.  

In the arid Samburu-Marsabit region, where Enrita is working with local pastoralist communities, the survival of people and wildlife is inextricably connected; both rely on the same landscape and resources. To Enrita, fostering local community support for, and participation in, conservation – across generations – is critical.  

“Every day, hundreds of students walk to school and herders go to the fields to graze their livestock, but they are taught very little about the magical wildlife that they are surrounded by.” explains Enrita. “My passion for teaching and especially wildlife conservation cannot exist without passing knowledge to these two groups. Hence, I am committed to educate the next generation of conservationists, build passion for wildlife and inspire the communities we work with to conserve Kenya’s wildlife for generations to come.” 

Conservation outreach with livestock herding children  

Following a long day in the bush looking after their families’ livestock, a group of nearly 30 young herders (lchekutis in the local Samburu language) from Anderi and Lkotikal villages gathered in the darkness, eager to engage in discussion with Enrita. It was May 2023 and the first time in many months that Enrita had been able to meet with herders. Unlike schools, sessions with herders couldn’t restart following the COVID pandemic as a severe drought forced many of the children to move long distances away from home to foras (satellite camps) in search for water and pasture for their livestock. With the arrival of the rains and their return home, however, came the opportunity for herders to share their experiences and discuss the implications of the drought for them, their families, their livestock, and local wildlife.   

Herders Outreach In Kenya

At the end of the session, Enrita encouraged herders to share what they’d learned. Wise beyond their years, the herders spoke about the need to embrace conservation; the value of education; the importance of improved grazing management; the problems posed by illegal guns; opportunities for livelihood diversification and the need to report wildlife emergencies quickly.   

Enrita is looking forward to continued engagement with herders in 2024.  

Conservation outreach with school-going children    

This year our Kenyan team welcomed two new schools to their outreach programme: Two Sisters Primary School (38 students across grades 1-3) in Sivicon and Hadad Primary School (58 students across grades 6-8) in Kargi. Students from both schools enjoyed sessions focused on wildlife living around them, tailored to their respective age groups.  

Enrita Teaching
Enrita teaching using grevys and plains zebra toys

This takes the number of primary schools Enrita is working with to 11.  Alongside classroom sessions, several school groups have enjoyed exposure tours in recent years. This has included trips to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, where students have had the opportunity to see different wildlife species for the first time, witness conservation in action and learn ways they can help. We expanded these trips to our own scouts this year.  

Eposure Tour Lewa spotting with binoculars
Eposure Tour Lewa Grevys Zebra

Through her outreach, Enrita is hoping to foster positive attitudes towards wildlife and inspire children to be environmental stewards, engage in pro-environmental and conservation behaviours, come up with their own solutions to problems, and act as message multipliers within their communities.  

Encouragingly, some schools already take impressive actions of their own. Inspired by their visit to Lewa, students from Anderi Primary School have been busy growing vegetables in their new greenhouse (sponsored by Turkana Wind Power Project), preparing compost, planting trees, and installing litter bins to improve waste management. Anderi, a school Enrita has been working with since 2016, will no doubt be a source of inspiration to other schools in the area – well done to all involved!  

School children at Anderi Wildlife Club in Kenya harvest vegetables.
3 cucumbers grown at Anderi Wildlife Club in Kenya.

Literacy and numeracy training for community scouts  

Teaching and outreach are not limited to children. Since 2022, Enrita has also arranged regular literacy and numeracy training for our scouts.  The sessions, run over several days by a primary school teacher, take place in a building or even in the field following a baraza. They give our scouts life skills they can use far beyond their jobs and making them more independent community members. 

Teaching and outreach are not limited to children
Regular literacy and numeracy training for our scouts