The UN World Wildlife Day (WWD) on March 3 is the global celebration of the many beautiful and varied forms of wild animals and plants on our planet as well as an occasion to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to both wildlife and people and the plight of many threatened or endangered species. The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Listen to the Young Voices’, with a focus on connecting young people around the world to explore what wildlife conservation and protection mean to them and instill a responsibility in them to take action for the future of both wild animals and plants.
Children from the Ngoswani School.
The Mara Elephant Project understands that in the Mara protecting elephants is not a singular objective that exists in a bubble outside communities. It’s essential that we get the support of local communities in the Mara and listening to young voices is an important component in realizing our mission to protect elephants and conserve the Mara ecosystem.
Poaching has hit elephants hard over the last 5 years. In response, MEP has deployed 32 highly trained rangers who with intelligence gathering, rapid response, patrol teams and partners like Kenya Wildlife Service and the Narok County Government have reduced poaching numbers.
The future for MEP is creating effective ways to reduce human-elephant conflict (HEC) that has been on the rise in the Mara. MEP is striving to help communities that live alongside wildlife to bring about positive benefits for both.
One such project is the building of an elephant-proof fence around Ngoswani School, which lies in an unprotected area of the Greater Mara ecosystem that experiences high levels of HEC. The school grounds are 52 acres of unfenced land, which invites unwelcomed wildlife to pass through creating danger for both children and wildlife. Out of the 400 pupils at Ngoswani School, over half board there during the term, making security a top concern.
The Ngoswani School buildings.
The fence project began in October 2016 with the digging of the holes to support the 600 wooden posts for the fence. The parents of the children who attend Ngoswani School purchased the wooden posts as their contribution to the project and over the last few months the 12-strand wire fence has been erected.
The wire fence around school grounds.
The completed fence will need a secure gate to control access to the school grounds thus ensuring the safety of the children and staff.
The gate to gain access to the Ngoswani School grounds.
The other equally important aspect to the Ngoswani School project is to develop a sustainable school and community woodlot scheme in partnership with The Woodlands 2000 Trust. This entails planting five rows of indigenous seedlings (4,500 in total) inside the perimeter of the fence along with shade trees around the school buildings and facilities.
Once fully grown the rows of trees will provide a sustainable source of wood for the community to use for charcoal, the main heat source for cooking school meals, and timber. This will have a positive impact on the environment and prevent deforestation, which directly affects the availability of food for elephants.
The tree planting will commence during the April rains but in the meantime the school is getting the land prepared for the seedlings. The children will be involved in planting the seedlings so that they can learn about conservation and the environment. A woodlot attendant will also be employed to ensure the healthy growth of the seedlings.
Please help us raise funds for this project by sharing this blog on Facebook and tag “Mara Elephant Project” using the hash tags #WorldWildlifeDay, #DoOneThingToday or #youth4wildlife. This will help us spread the word on World Wildlife Day about the importance of listening to young voices where elephant conservation is concerned.