Saturday 18th May 2019, dawned with a lot of anticipation, excitement and expectations. Students from the Wildlife Club of Kenya at Ndemu Primary School would join us for our Conservation In Action program at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and witness first hand, what it meant to be in a conservancy, seeing wildlife, learning about their habitats and getting hands-on into the day to day routine that the rangers performed. They would learn not only about nature and the environment, but also what it takes to be conservation activists and environmental ambassadors.
When the students arrived at Moranis, they listened keenly as I talked through the objectives and expectations for the day, handing it to Eva, the conservation education officer, who took them through the outline of what we would do for the morning. Off we went, driving into the exclusive section in Ol Pejeta that is the Northern White Rhino enclosure. Here, we met Fatu and Najin, the last two female Northern White Rhinos, in the wild world.
The students were silent as Jacob, our ranger, begun to speak. He told us about the painful past of these magnificent creatures; hunted, killed for their horn, and brought to the brink of extinction. He painting a picture with words, of their future, which remains shrouded in uncertainty. As this overwhelming detail marinated into our minds, Jacob drew our attention to Tauwa. Tauwa was a southern white female rhino in the company of Najin and Fatu. Tauwa held the key to the survival of this sub-species. Their fate was pegged on the hope that she would one day as a surrogate, carry an NWR infant calf into birth.
We arrived at the rhino memorial site. We asked students to have a look and to read the re-counts of the various rhinos in the conservancy. Seeing students in twos and threes, going round from plaque to plaque, reading about rhinos that met their fate in the hands of poachers was more impactful than anything we had said or could say...
The narrative then carried one student after the other, through a journey across central Africa and other parts of the world. We met chimps that had been captured, smuggled, traded, chained, mistreated and abandoned in their lifetime. The sanctuary at Ol Pejeta arose to serve the need to protect and care for these chimpanzees, and to provide them refuge. For us, this was also a symbol to the students of why we must build and establish our own backgrounds as ‘sanctuaries’ to conserve nature and to appreciate it.
After a full morning in the conservancy scooping rhino poop, riding on the tractor, walking and working hand in hand with the conservancy rangers, it was time to head into Rift Valley Adventures Wildlife camp and Adventure Center and have a hearty meal. Students were treated to filling of healthy nutritious food, and lots of assorted fresh fruit.
We kicked off the afternoon with rotations across Climbing, Biking and bushcraft activities. Each of these activities were carefully selected for their constructive outcomes in bringing out elements of Challenge, Skills, Learning, Leadership and FUN. From the challenge and strong-will of climbing on the activity tower, to the discipline, leadership and skill that comes with biking, to the perseverance and determination to light a fire with sticks. These activities were not only a good and fun way to end the day but also were a great launching point to build confidence, help students understand that challenges, including environmental challenges were issues we could overcome through confidence, determination, working together and teaching others. The ball was in our court.
Our day was nearing the end and our objectives steady in our grasp as we reviewed the outcomes of our Trip. My Wanjohi, representing the Rotary Club of Kenya inspired the students to each plant two trees that he would donate to the school. He also committed further to sponsoring first term fees to any student who would achieve an impressive 400/500 points in the national examination. George and Edward, from Wildlife Clubs of Kenya also challenged the students to be the change they would like to see most in their community and the students in turn made this commitment themselves. They expressed delight in the experiences they encountered and without a doubt felt they could and would do more in the stewardship of their own environments.
From Rift Valley Adventures, this was a unique and very special trip in so many ways. The students were the main focus of the trip, and the umbrella aim of this trip was to allow them to appreciate the importance of environment, why it is an urgent calling to be conservation activists and environmental ambassadors, and how we can achieve this. We know we achieved this on this trip this is just the beginning...
A big THANKYOU to Rachael Blair from Kindness In Action, the Rotary Clubs and all the individuals, groups, partners and organizations that came together to make this happen.
Richard W Wachira
Rift Valley Adventures