We’ve just concluded the 2014 Lion Kids Camp! What an amazing four days with local Kenyan kids learning conservation and experiencing wildlife together. For this year’s Camp, we selected participating children through a creative artwork competition with the theme Simba na Sisi which means “Lions and Us”. The winning 33 kids came from five local primary schools in Westgate and Kalama Community Conservancies here in Samburu, northern Kenya. The kids ranged from 7 to 15 years old.
On Day 1, we divided the children in to five teams: Team Giraffe, Team Wild Dog, Team Grevy’s Zebra, Team Lion, and Team Elephant. We took the children on bird walks after teaching them about mammal and bird identification and how to use cameras and binoculars.
Each child was given a special educational exercise booklet that we designed to provide lessons and fun activities over the course of the four days. We administered questionnaires to the kids at this stage to document the educational impact the Camp has on them. This is a vital part of assessing the efficacy and performance of the Lion Kids Camp for the future and guiding us on any changes we should implement. We also had three girls helping out who attended last year’s Camp and are now sponsored by Ewaso Lions to attend secondary school.
On Day 2, we loaded up the kids into several Land Cruisers and headed into Samburu National Reserve with all 33 kids absolutely desperate to see LIONS!! Luck was with us – we saw two beautiful lionesses – Nadala and Naserian – right on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro. We then headed straight to an area where we knew lions were feeding on an elephant carcass, and there we found Nanai, Nabulu, and their cubs. The icing on the cake was seeing Lguret nearby, too.
For 20 of the 33 kids, this was the first lion they had ever seen in their entire lives, even though they live so close to the Reserve. They were completely enthralled. They giggled, they laughed, they stared, and whispered to the lions, “simba, simba”.
One car was lucky to see a leopard and others had a special sighting of a caracal. Other then the fantastic carnivore sightings, we saw over 300 elephants, Grevy’s zebras, and much more.
On Day 3, we headed out to the Grevy’s Zebra Plains in search of this beautiful Endangered species – together with the staff from the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT). Rains had failed in this area and so there weren’t many zebras around, however the GZT team kept the kids entertained with games and activities related to the behaviour and conservation of the Grevy’s. It was great fun.
On the final day of this year’s Lion Kids Camp, we visited the Core Area of Westgate Conservancy. During sunrise, we taught them about grazing issues, challenges in conservation, the importance of core protected areas and more. It was a beautiful morning, we had clear views of Mt Kenya, the kids were all in great spirits, and we were surrounded by elephants. We could not have asked for a better morning.
That afternoon, each Team presented a theater drama with the theme “How do animals, plans and people rely on each other for survival”. The presentations were fantastic and had everyone in fits of laughter. We had elders, women and warriors from the community present as well and it was great to see such a large crowd enjoy the kids performances. It was a great afternoon attended by special guests from the region and an incredible way to close our second annual Lion Kids Camp.
We are all thrilled by outcome and impact Lion Kids Camp – we miss the children already and look forward to this time next year where we hope to show more children – their first ever lion. “Our Lion Kids Camp provides a totally unique experience for kids in this region,” said Jeneria. “A year after our 2013 Camp, kids are still talking about what they learned.”
The children who arrived shy and quiet completely transformed by the end of the camp. Most of them refused to leave! They were excited and spoke about lions and wildlife all the time – you could hear them drinking tea or bringing down their tents or walking to the cars talking about Nanai or Nadala. It was clear that these kids had learned a lot about wildlife and were excited about everything they had learned.
This is what the Lion Kids Camp is about – teaching conservation education to those who have never had the chance before. These kids are the future wildlife leaders in the region and the impact on the kids was huge.
The success of this Camp is due to the vast number of people who dedicated all their time and effort in to seeing that the kids had a fantastic experience. This camp was made possible by a number of organisations and special people:
Thanks to our Sponsors
Sasaab Lodge – Ali Allport and Daniel Kasoo – this camp would not have been possible without them!
Kathy Vinson and Katie McEntee for their support towards the camp.
A huge shout out to Livia, Samantha, and Sofia for being our main sponsors of the camp and for changing the lives of 33 children.
… And Partners
Westgate Conservancy management for their support and being invaluable hosts.
Grevy’s Zebra Trust for their participation, enthusiasm and teaching – and for having the best costumes by far!
Kelvin Lemantaan, Onesmas Lesiata and David Daballen for their leadership, hard work, and support.
Matron Jane for looking after the girls.
Teacher Laurence for being a brilliant sport and helping in so many ways.
All Ewaso Lions staff for all the hours spent on organizing and preparing, led by Jeneria and Moses.
Kenyan Kids on Safari for loans of cameras.
Samburu National Reserve, Samburu Lodge and Save the Elephants for their cooperation.
Heather Gurd for the Lion Kids Camp Booklet.
…And Special Guests
Osotua Wildlife Foundation, Save the Elephants, Samburu Intrepids, Kenya Wildlife Service, Samburu National Reserve and Bwana Okoth.
Thank you all!