© Ewaso Lions
This year, we wanted our Lion Kids Camps to focus on a new demographic of young Kenyans: livestock herders, or “lchokutis” in the local Samburu language. This group spend most of their time in wildlife areas looking after their families livestock, yet have limited, if any, exposure to conservation education and training. By engaging herders through our Lion Kids Camp programme we hope to have an immediate positive impact on wildlife. (Read about the importance of engaging herders in conservation.)
Following the success of our first herders camp in February, we were very excited to host a second camp in April that brought together 26 young herders from across four community conservancies in northern Kenya.
As with previous camps, the children relished the opportunity to learn about their local wildlife and participate in a range of conservation-themed activities including wildlife safaris, theatre dramas, creative arts sessions, and our special conservation game.
Watch this short clip for some of the highlights of our 7th Lion Kids Camp:
For this Camp, we were particularly apprehensive about being able to show the children their first lions; the resident pride had not been sighted in the Reserve for a couple of weeks, instead spending time in the surrounding community areas. Whilst it is great that the lions feel safe living alongside the community, we didn’t want this to be our first Lion Kids Camp without lions!
Fortunately, they made a timely reappearance and provided the herders with an incredible first sighting. Naisherua, one of the sub-adults from the Koitogor Pride, was feeding on a giraffe carcass and fiercely guarding it from circling vultures and Marabou storks, whilst her siblings and father, Lguret, rested in the shade nearby.
Crocodiles had killed the giraffe the night before but the lions had managed to fight them off and claim the carcass for themselves.
Conservation education is a key part of all our Lion Kids Camps, with the curriculum adapted to fit the target audience. During our herder’s camps, we discuss issues like livestock husbandry and ways to coexist with wildlife. Over recent months, we have seen an increase in the number of times livestock are getting lost whilst out grazing. Our camps are an ideal opportunity to tackle the root cause of these problems and encourage the herders to adopt practices that help mitigate conflict with carnivores.
As always, one of the highlights of the camp was the closing ceremony in which the children performed their wildlife dramas. The theme for this camp centered around the importance of wildlife to herders and how they can help conserve their natural heritage. With the four teams comprising young herders from both Samburu and Turkana communities, there was an added challenge of overcoming language barriers and making the dramas relevant to both cultures.
All the teams did a brilliant job, but the most exciting thing for us was to see the children from the two tribes, between whom there is often conflict, enjoying playing and performing together; Team Lion even had the Samburus learning a traditional Turkana song and dance!
Upon returning to home, Nagumo, a young Turkana herder, described how he was now acting like a Conservancy Ranger; reporting any information about lions and elephants and telling his community to improve their bomas [livestock enclosure] to reduce conflict. This is exactly why it is important to engage herders – they make great ambassadors for wildlife!
Ewaso Lions would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for supporting this Camp:
• Safarilink Aviation for sponsoring this Camp, in particular Anu and Carol for their continued support.
• Westgate Community Conservancy staff and management for hosting the Camp.
• Samburu National Reserve for hosting our kids in the park.
• African Wildlife Foundation for allowing us to hire their bus for to transport the children during game drives and activities. In particular, AWF driver Anwar Maulidi.
• Ali and Tony Allport for all their support and great photos.
• Carter Safaris for donating water bottles
This article originally appeared on Ewaso Lions.