Kenyan Kids See Rhinos and Lions for the First Time

Jan 28, 2015 | Categories: Education | Leave A Comment »

In December 2014, Ewaso Lions took our Lion Kids Camp to Solio Game Reserve – a ranch located between Mt Kenya and the Aberdares. This Lion Kids camp was an opportunity for the children who have lived on the edge of Solio for most of their lives, to not only experience the wildlife first hand, but to learn about the animals and to understand how important they are to them and their families.

To be selected for the Camp, students participated in a creative arts competition entitled “Conservation and Tourism”, and kids were selected based on the best entries. The response to the art competition was overwhelming, with 149 amazing stories, poems, drawings and sculptures to choose from. We had four teachers join the group of 32 kids who kept the entire group singing, laughing and engaged in the camp programme.

This was the first time that we held our Camp outside of Samburu. We worked with Solio Lodge and the Safari Collection on this project, and engaged with two local primary schools – Honi and Labura. None of the children had any real understanding of the extent of poaching in Kenya or how endangered some of the iconic species are becoming.

32 kids from local schools attended our Lion Kids Camp on Solio ranch to learn about wildlife and conservation. Photo by Tony Allport.

During the Camp, the children saw their first-ever rhinos – both black and white – including many young calves. We also saw some spectacular lions – young males with golden manes, females with cubs and older males with black manes too. For a first-ever sighting of lions, this was amazing.

In addition to exciting game drives, we had a full, exciting packed schedule – we taught them about mammals, birds, tourism and had a three-hour presentation on conservation, including critical issues such as poaching, conflict, deforestation and much more. They also watched wildlife films, played games, completed wildlife jigsaw puzzles and had a very special treat of riding horses.

The children were surprised to learn that most of the wildlife found in Kenya, cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Although some recognized that they had heard about poaching before, not one child realized that there was a real threat to lions in Kenya. The children could barely look at the images of the poached rhinos – after seeing in the wild but accepted the reality of it.

All of the children did a pre and post camp questionnaire to enable us to evaluate the impacts of the camp and to understand what works and doesn’t work for future planning.

Kids on a game drive get to see wildlife up close, often for the first time. Photo by Tony Allport.

Kids see a lion for the first time in their lives. Photo by Tony Allport.

Most kids had never seen a rhino before. Photo by Tony Allport.

It was a fantastic few days in Solio – the kids arrived quiet but excited, and left sad about leaving, but singing and hopeful about the future. We look forward to following up with the children and teachers of both schools in the future.

Lion Kids Camp on Solio Game Reserve in Kenya. Photo by Tony Allport.

The Lion Kids Camp – Solio.

A huge thanks to Ali and Tony Allport – the camp would not have been possible without their energy and dedication, the staff and management of Solio Lodge and Ranch, the Safari Collection, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund and the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife for helping sponsor the Camp.

Photo by Tony Allport.

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