Thursday, August 25, 2016

Report from EWASO LIONS partners:

Aug 23, 2016

This month, EWASO LIONS with support from Kenyan Kids on Safari held a Lion Kids Camp for 24 Kenyan children to learn about conservation and be inspired by experiencing wildlife from a new perspective. This Camp marked only the second time an LKC has been held outside Samburu. We teamed up with Loisaba Conservancy to hold the five-day camp in the beautiful landscape of Loisaba, located 200km away in Laikipia county.

Children loved watching others play the Conservation Game we designed, where players pretend to be lions navigating a human-occupied landscape.

Similar to the two Lion Kids Camps EWASO LIONS have held so far this year, this camp focused on young livestock herders from local communities, rather than school children. The 24 kids, ranging in age from 4 to 16, spent five days with our team learning all about wildlife, conservation and ways to coexist with lions and other large carnivores – and, of course, to have lots of fun in the process!

This was our 8th camp held to date, bringing the total number of Kenyan children participating in a Lion Kids Camp to 214.

The kids visited Loisaba’s camels and sampled their fresh milk.

Excitingly, this Camp coincided with WORLD LION DAY on the 10th of August. In the hope of showing the children lions on this special day, we set off early for a game drive on Loisaba. It wasn’t long before we received a call from Thomas, who works for our research partner Lion Landscapes, to say he had located a collared female, Victoria, and her pride. Despite the pride having – somewhat unhelpfully – chosen to rest at the top of a rocky hill, the kids were all super excited to watch the lions through their binoculars and asked lots of questions. They spent the rest of the drive excitedly ticking off other species on their checklists and one car was even lucky even to spot a cheetah.

This Lion Kids Camp marked EWASO LIONS 8th camp to date and now 214 kids have been engaged in conservation through our camps.

With the Camp taking place on Loisaba Conservancy, there were also some special additions to our regular programme in Samburu. Firstly, the children visited Loisaba’s livestock bomas, where they met the Conservancy’s huge herd of camels and sampled some fresh camel milk, before watching the frenzy as hundreds of cattle were ‘dipped’ to prevent disease.

Loisaba staff then talked to the children about livestock and grazing management. The children also met Loisaba’s bloodhounds, Warrior and Machine, and learnt how these incredible sniffer dogs help local communities and wildlife. The kids even joined in a training exercise that took the form of sniffer dog style hide-and-seek.

Loisaba staff demonstrated their sniffer dogs which are used to locate poachers.

In typical LKC fashion, the week closed with the wildlife drama competition, which was performed in front of the children’s parents and Loisaba staff. It was great to see the community support for this initiative – the first time Loisaba has run a kids programme. We were delighted that in recognition of their support, the community even donated a goat for the children.

It was a brilliant week and we hope to work with Loisaba Conservancy again in the near future 

With special thanks to:

Loisaba Conservancy – for sponsoring and hosting this camp. In particular to Tom, Fiona and Mingistu for their support
• Guides – Sam, Bonnie and Robin, for their support and enthusiasm as team leaders
• Matron – Mama Kelly, for taking good care of the children
• Cooks – Joseph and his team, for ensuring we were all well fed
• Lion Landscapes – our partner in Laikipia for their assistance
• The kids and their families – for embracing the experience and making it such a great week
• Ewaso Lions staff – Letupukwa, Thomas and Jeneria for all their hard work to ensure the camp was a great success
• Todd Cromwell and the Kenyan Kids on Safari programme – for supporting the Camp

24 Kenyan kids participated in the Camp.

Lion Kids Camps are designed to teach and inspire the next generation of Kenyan conservationists.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kenyan Kids on Safari is very proud of our association with Ewaso Lions, and especially the tremendous boost to kids self esteem in growing up with wildlife and broadening their personal horizons through this new program.

Expanding conservation programs for kids in 2016, Ewaso Lions in Samburu recently concluded the first ever Lion Kids Camp for livestock herding children. The previous five Lion Kids Camps were all with local primary school students. This Camp focused on a new demographic of young Kenyans who play an important role for wildlife: young livestock herders, or lchokutis in the local Samburu language. 28 Kenyan children came from villages across Westgate Conservancy for a week of conservation education, activities, and games.
For the Samburu people in northern Kenya, livestock represents wealth and status. Often, young children are charged with tending livestock while out grazing, so these young herders play a vital role in protecting their families’ livelihoods and maintaining cultural traditions. They spend a significant amount of time in wildlife areas, yet they have limited, if any, exposure to conservation education and training.
Because of their herding responsibilities, most have never even stepped foot in a classroom before!

The young herders went on their first-ever game drive where they were lucky enough to see three of Samburu’s famous lionesses hunting warthog. For 22 of the 28 herders this was the first time in their lives they had seen lions!
Despite living adjacent to world famous reserves and spending each day in the bush herding livestock, it is rare for young herders to see wildlife close up, especially carnivores. Instead, they might see the tracks of a hyena outside their home or the remains of a goat killed by a leopard. Perhaps even more exciting, the herders saw Naramat and her three cubs in Westgate’s own Conservation Area. At the end of the camp, it was great to hear them still reciting the names of their community lions!

The lchokutis really soaked in everything they learned: local conservation issues, ways to coexist with wildlife, and more. They were so honest about everything – admitting to having encroached into protected areas, killing Dikdiks in the past, and more. But after the Kids Camp, we could see a change. On the way home, a black-bellied bustard crossed the road in the distance and Fredi, one of the boys yelled out, “Don’t hit him!”

The camp concluded with a special closing ceremony in which the herders created and performed their first wildlife dramas. With the help of their team leaders, they also made some great wildlife costumes out of old food sacks, ash and scraps of material!

During the wind-up, after some impromptu Samburu dancing, the children returned to their villages singing songs about wild dogs and lions. Incredibly, the shy and nervous children who had arrived barely five days earlier had transformed into confident children eager to share their experiences with family and friends. They were even demanding to be dropped right outside each village so that everyone could hear them singing!

Thanks to the children for opening their minds and hearts to learn about conservation, Ewaso Lions are already excited by plans to host another Lion Kids Camp with herders very soon.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Special Lion Kids Camp Reunion

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2015 - Ewaso Lions recently held a very special edition of their Lion Kids Camp – a Reunion Camp. They brought together 122 Kenyan children who had all previously participated in a Lion Kids Camp since the first one in 2013, held jointly with Kenyan Kids on Safari. The children  came from 11 schools, spread across three counties (Samburu, Isiolo and Nyeri).