Investing in the Future: the third and final article in our series celebrating 10 years of conservation impact
We are rounding off this special series with a focus on our Conservation Education work. At Kenya Wildlife Trust, we recognise the importance of investing in the conservation leaders of the future; one of our 2020 strategic goals is to see more tertiary-educated Kenyans working in conservation.
Our Justice Ole Keiwua Scholarship is here to make that happen, by supporting a number of promising individuals with a passion for wildlife conservation through their higher education. By awarding scholarships to our country’s brightest students undertaking conservation-related studies at university, the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute (KWSTI) or Koiyaki Guiding School (KGS), we are directly investing in the future of Kenyan conservation.
We recently made a national call for applications and are delighted to be interviewing a number of shortlisted applicants, some of whom have been accepted to study at university, and others who have been offered a place at KWSTI. Linking this investment with our strategic priorities, we award scholarships to students coming from our three priority wildlife areas – the Greater Mara, Laikipa / Samburu and Amboseli / Tsavo. Successful applicants will be given the financial support needed to complete their higher conservationfocused education.
To date, our scholarship program has changed the lives of over 40 individuals. Here, we highlight the paths of two special young men who are currently receiving support from Kenya Wildlife Trust.
Pascal is a student from Isiolo County, now in his third year at the University of Nairobi.
Pascal’s story is not unusual – his parents struggled to raise school fees, meaning that he often spent his teenage years at home, rather than in school. However, his intelligence and passion for becoming a conservationist won out, and Pascal eventually graduated with good grades and was accepted by the University of Nairobi. Having searched for months for funding support (his first semester school fees were covered by locally raised donations), Pascal was encouraged by a Conservancy Chairwoman in his home county to apply to us for funding.
Pascal talks about his path so far…
“My interest and passion in conservation was built up when I was young because of the environment that I grew up in, whereby flora and fauna lives were being destroyed by cutting trees and poaching of wildlife by the local communities in the ecosystem.
This was all just because of illiteracy; they didn’t understand the meaning and importance of environment conservation.
I became interested in pursuing environment conservation as a career so that I can help to conserve the environment by creating awareness in the local communities. Through the knowledge and skills that I am acquiring through my studies, about the meaning and importance of conserving environment, I can make a difference.
We need to do what we can to help reduce bad calamities like floods and drought, and we also need to maintain some species that are almost extinct. Moreover, we need wildlife to attract tourists, which benefits the local communities, reducing poverty levels.
I will continue to appreciate this scholarship by working hard and spearheading conservation of the environment among my community and the world at large.”
Pascal’s latest semester report demonstrated his passion for conservation, detailing his practical sessions and fieldwork. During his mid-year break from university, Pascal volunteered with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, based near his home. With a desire to gain practical research experience, Pascal’s commitment to his future in conservation is encouraging, especially when Kenya’s wildlife is under threat. Now, more than ever, we need emerging heroes like Pascal who can make a real difference to conservation for decades to come.
Kasaine, a student at the University of Eldoret, has had quite a different journey…
Now in his second year at the University of Eldoret, Kasaine – who is from the Maasai Mara – is studying Environmental Science and Environmental Arts.
Before embarking on his university studies, Kasaine joined our flagship Mara Lion Project, after gaining experience with two other predator conservation projects. As part of our team at the Predator Hub, Kasaine amassed a wealth of experience in big cat research, including lion identification, radio telemetry, data collection and validation, and database management.
Not only has Kasaine made his mark in lion conservation, but he has also gained a Certificate in Wildlife Sanctuary Management and a Diploma in Wildlife Management, both from KWSTI. An attachment to the Zoology Department of the National Museums of Kenya followed, before Kasaine returned home to the Mara to grow his field-based research experience.
Kasaine is still engaged with the Mara Lion Project to this day, complementing his degree studies with fieldwork. He is an authority on the lions living in and around Olare-Motorogi Conservancy and a well-liked, skilled researcher. Kasaine works closely with local guides across the Mara, and being from Maasailand, he deeply understands the threats facing Kenya’s iconic wildlife and is well-placed to study and conserve lions in the Mara, a critical juncture of human and natural habitats. Raising awareness of the importance of predator conservation, Kasaine gives regular presentations on the challenges facing the Mara and the conservation initiatives, such as our Mara Lion Project, that are striving to overcome these challenges.
Kasaine talks about what’s next for him…
“My primary goal for this degree program is to establish a solid foundation on which to build in the coming years, leading me to focus on geographic information system (GIS) and Remote Sensing in conservation.
I believe that GIS and Remote Sensing have a central role in analysing the geographic distribution of endangered species, in measuring and monitoring biodiversity, and in identifying priorities for conservation management going forward. With no doubt, GIS technology has become a major tool for many people trying understanding and to conserve wildlife and their habitat.”
Thanks to our support, both Pascal and Kasaine are deeply committed to their future careers in conservation. As we round off this series of articles celebrating our 10th Anniversary, it’s only natural to look to the future.
There is no question that we are facing unprecedented challenges to our wildlife, habitats and ecosystems. At Kenya Wildlife Trust, will continue to face those challenges head-on – and by investing in the next generation, we are confident that Pascal, Kasaine and their peers will become the conservation heroes that our country both needs and deserves.
For information on how to donate to Kenya Wildlife Trust, please visit www.KenyaWildlifeTrust.org