240306 Josh Clay Negosua Tipaai and son James Soipei with certificate in motorbike engineering BLF scholarship

Negosua Tipaai was only two years old when she was attacked by a hyena, losing the use of both her hands. This was decades ago, and when Richard Bonham heard of her plight he didn’t hesitate to assist with payment for her hospital treatment.

Years passed, and she managed to scrape together a living selling soap. She eventually had four children but had no husband to support her. A second lifeline came in 2018 after her nephew joined Big Life as a ranger: he told our education department his aunt’s story and we were able to assist her three eldest children with scholarships.

Here Negosua is pictured with her eldest son, James Soipei, proudly holding his certificate from college where he recently graduated with a degree in motorbike mechanics. Her eldest daughter, Faith Moitanik, is at one of the region’s best secondary schools (Rombo Girls), and her youngest, Abigael Resiato, is enrolled at another excellent school (Kimana Girls).

Negosua says, “If it wasn’t for Big Life, my children would not have any of the opportunities they do today. I used to worry for them, but now I am happy because they will have a good future.”

Communities in Amboseli live in close proximity to wildlife, and this can be dangerous. We work just as hard to protect animals from people as we do to protect people from animals.  Whether it is preventing elephants from raiding crops, compensating livestock owners for losses to predators, or providing scholarships to the children of people like Negosua, these programs exemplify Big Life’s ethos: if conservation supports people, then people will support conservation.

Photo: Josh Clay