Experiencing wildlife through the eyes of children by Victoria Wangui Wanjohi

Watching children learn about wildlife and our environment is always amazing.

It was a cold morning in Nairobi. I woke up earlier than normal, excited to be going to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy; for the first time. I was curious. Then I imagined how the children who had invited us to join them in their educational trip, must be feeling. For me, I fell in love with wildlife from a young age. My love was inspired by the many miniature animal toys I received as a toddler. For the children to experience the natural habitat, I hope they will fall in love too.

The team, comprising of Esther, Vincent, Ken, Peter and I left Nairobi for Nanyuki. We arrived at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at 11am. The sun was already right above us. The conservancy, located in the Northern Part of Kenya, is approximately three hours from Nairobi. I kept on wondering whether we would actually get to see the beauty of this place. But I had to be patient. The school children and their teachers we joined were from Nanyuki. This was their first trip to Lewa.

The conservancy has a well-structured education program. The children had the opportunity to learn about wildlife within the area. They also learnt how they can be part of protecting the nature and wildlife. Like me, the children could not wait to view the wildlife in real live form. Unfortunately, we had to wait. And waiting we did. But in the meantime we had an amazing bonding time.

In the afternoon, the time came for us to explore the wilderness at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Being a birding enthusiast, I had already spotted some wildlife. The Superb Starlings were enjoying the African sun. The chatter of the white-browed sparrow and Speke’s weavers was in the background. I knew this would be an interesting day. Birds are ecological indicators. You always know the wildlife in the area is abundant.

Our first sighting were eland antelopes. Elands are pretty beautiful. They resemble the cow. The school children were able to tell us the name of the animal in their local dialect; Samburu. What followed was the Grevy’s Zebra. Do you remember the day you saw an elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, or a specific bird species for the first time? Seeing the Grevy’s zebra for the first time was more than amazing. My heart skipped a beat.

This Grevy’s Zebra is endangered and only found within the northern part of Kenya. With beautiful stripes, different from the common zebra, the species stands with grace. I fall in love with nature all over again when I get to experience such beautiful wildlife species in Kenya.

The children were also excited to witness the Grevy’s zebra. For most , they had seen the species around their home and school. They were in shock to know that the species is endangered as they thought it was common. They vowed to tell their parents, guardians and friends to join them in protecting the species. They also vowed to tell their communities not to kill them for meat.

During the game drive, the children and their teachers also had the chance to view elephants and Southern White rhinos. For most, this was their first time. Saddened by the state of the two species, they vowed to be stewards of wildlife. They also recognized they too had a voice and could act now. Towards the end of the game drive, we saw a lion lazing around in the warm African evening sun. this was a joy considering the children said the lion is a brave animal in their culture.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy encompasses a variety of habitats. From wetlands to the dry Savanna to woodlands. This makes the area befitting to host a variety of wildlife. Many people only see wildlife protected areas as tourism hubs. But they are more and bigger than this. Wildlife areas act as carbon sinks supporting ecosystems at risk.

Visiting a wildlife conservancy for the children was an opportunity for them to witness and learn about the importance of our national parks and reserves. It was also a chance for them to appreciate nature and inspire them to protect all species, be it flora or fauna. Getting to experience wildlife in the eyes of the children opened a soft spot in my heart. They were ready to protect our natural heritage. As a youth in Kenya, the time I now to be the voice of wildlife. This experience will forever be in my heart.

As I looked into the excited faces of the children at the end of the game drive, I was inspired.

About the Entry

  • Blogger name | Victoria Wangui Wanjohi
  • Site name | Nyika Silika
  • Site URLhttp://www.nyikasilika.org/
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  • Why should someone visit your site? In a world where the human population is increasing at a fast rate, the pressure is upon the earth on whether it can be able to hold both man and species (flora and fauna) together without any negative impact. Will nature take its course? Will sustainability and stability prevail? This and many other questions always seem to fill my mind. My blog is a platform where I answer some of this questions and also share amazing work in conservation done by young people in Kenya.
  • Entry Number | 42

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