You might imagine that every child in East Africa is used to seeing elephants and interacting with the wildlife for which the area is famous on a regular basis. Unfortunately, due to reduced numbers of these animals and increased development of wilderness areas that forces wildlife out, many living in the ecosystem have never even seen these animals, nor visited the remarkable Amboseli National Park to which they live so near.
Thanks to the generous support of Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics, we’ve been able to hire a full-time education officer: Elizabeth Yiambine. Elizabeth is a local Maasai working directly with students in schools across Mbirikani Group Ranch, central to Big Life’s operations. Since the summer, she’s visited 13 schools and spoken with over 1,400 students and teachers.
The subject of their discussions varies, but the major themes covered include the importance of conservation for the local community, the challenges and opportunities of human-wildlife conflict, and general facts and information about wildlife, especially elephants.
Recognizing that people won’t protect what they don’t know or care about, we’re working to expose local children to the incredible wildlife in their backyard. So on a sunny day earlier this month, we took 30 students and 6 teachers into Amboseli National Park. For many, it was their first visit, and the smiles on their faces said it all. The day was a huge success, and the students experienced many new species of flora and fauna, in addition to understanding their own roles in the ecosystem.
Commented one student, “It was good to know that the Maasai people are vital to the conservation of wildlife and the environment.”
We couldn’t agree more.