The long-term sustainability of conservation efforts in Laikipia are linked to the environmental awareness of the youth. The great majority of Kenyan children have never seen wildlife in their natural environment, despite living in a country with rich wildlife resources.
The Laikipia Wildlife Forum recognises that most Kenyan schools lack resources to implement an environmental education curriculum, train teachers, or take children to existing field study centres to learn about wildlife first hand. LWF also recognises that schools can be effective agents of change for societies. As a result in 2004, with support from Save the Rhino International and Chester Zoo, LWF set up the Environmental Education & Eco Literacy Programme, to engage the next generation to work towards the sustained conservation of the Laikipia ecosystem.
Programme Review: The programme is currently being restructured in line with the LWF’s strategic framework and the programme’s review undertaken in 2009 by Dr Maggie Esson from Chester Zoo with support from Cathy Dean at SRI. The programme will draw strongly on all other LWF programmes to expand the breadth of educational resources available to schools (teachers and children), and to adult groups. In addition the programme will place greater emphasis on the training of people to deliver environmental education, conservation messages and raise levels of eco-literacy. The training will focus on teachers, conservancy staff of handle groups of children or adults, government agency staff involved in conservation and natural resource management (KWS, KFS, WRMA etc), and also LWF staff or subcontracted teams. New teaching materials are also being produced in collaboration with other LWF programmes, such as cascade training materials on ecosystem processes with the Rangeland Rehabilitation & Management Programme.
New Bus: The programme will receive a new bus (TATA 713 4WD) with 25 seats. Funding is from the US Fish & Wildlife Service through SRI, and Chester Zoo, and additional funding from LWF and the Netherlands. The new bus will be used to launch and brand the revised programme in July or August.
More than 5,000 individuals benefited from LWF's Environmental Education Programme in 2009 alone. In the last 7 years the LWF bus has taken more than 10,000 school children to visit Laikipia based conservancies (Ol Pejeta, Laikipia Ranching, ol Jogi, El Karama). In the last 3 years, the bus has also been made available to adult groups who wish to learn from others and share experience. The time has come to take stock. LWF has thus carried out an in depth evaluation of its EELP in order to review and scale up one of its most appreciated programmes.