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LaikipiaWildlifeForum
P.O. Box 764, Nanyuki
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CountyMediaGroupLtd.
P.O. Box 1148 - 10400NanyukiKenya
March 2016 IssueNo. 6
CONSERVATION INACTION
K
ids from Nairobi and
Laikipiagot agreat chance
toparticipate inanexciting
wildlife research project. On
Saturday the 5
th
ofMarch, a diverse
group of school kids contributed to
the changing face of conservation
education and learning in Laikipia
by joining scientists to study the
population of giraffe inLaikipia.
The event, dubbed the
Kids
Twiga Tally Challenge
, engaged
the helping hands of 70 school
children to take pictures of giraffes
withinLaikipiaatMpalaandOl Jogi
Conservancies, inanattempt tocount
themby identifying each individual.
The cameras that the children used
are equipped with Image Based
Ecological Information System (or
IBEIS) software, which cleverly
identifies animals’ markings; much
like a fingerprint scanner would
identify a person.
The creator of this technology, Dr.
Daniel Rubenstein, is a professor
of ecology at Princeton University.
He teaches regularly about mammal
ecology at the Mpala Research
Centre in Laikipia. Dr. Rubenstein
and the Grevy Zebra Trust joined
together with conservation partners
TheKidsTwigaTallyChallenge
in Northern Kenya to gather data
on Grevy’s Zebra (and used it
successfullywith thehelpof the local
community in the Great Grevy’s
Rally in January 2016). It was this
previous success that led researchers
to plan the giraffe count. The count
aims to answer a fundamental
question: are giraffe numbers and
the social composition of giraffe
groups different on conservancies
than on group ranches, andwhy?
The
Kids Twiga Tally Challenge
came to fruition through the energy
and commitment of several different
groups and individuals. Dr. Paula
Kahumbu, director of Wildlife
Direct and NTVWild, was deeply
involved, speaking to the children at
the start of theday inorder toengage
themandprepare them forwhat they
were being asked to do. Dr. Dino
Martins, a committed naturalist
and the director of Mpala Research
Centre, was also instrumental in
organizing the event. The Laikipia
Wildlife Forum, a major supporter
of the Great Grevy’s Rally, also
supported the Laikipia primary
school kids’ participation. NTV
covered the event for public
television.
Further engendering the “citizen
science” approach to learning,
Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s main
aimwith the Twiga Challenge is to
promote Laikipia as a safe and fun
learning environment for students
and their families. In keeping
with its Wild Class program for
conservation
education,
LWF
believes that Laikipia is a perfect
‘natural classroom’ because of its
high concentration of species as
well as its unique local communities
committed to conserving them.
The Twiga Challenge presents
the perfect opportunity to engage
Kenyan children in major wildlife
researchquestions, and tohelp them
have fun and learn at the same time.
The results of this work could help
us to manage our conservancies
better for reticulated giraffes.
Estimates put the population
of giraffe in Africa at less than
80,000 individuals across all sub-
species. The reticulated giraffe of
Laikipia belong to a population that
used to roam Somalia, Southern
Ethiopia, andNorthernKenya.Their
population is now estimated be less
than 7,500 individuals.
Several schools attended theevent,
representing children from various
geographical, economic and cultural
backgrounds inKenya.Eachbus that
went out to photograph the giraffe
contained carefullymixed groups of
children, connecting many of them
for the first time. Some children had
never set foot outside of Nairobi,
let alone seen wildlife, such as the
Kibera Girls School. Others, such
as Mpala Academy, have had the
Laikipia landscape as their campus,
yet have never had the opportunity
to learn about it in such a unique
way. Each school was accompanied
by an enthusiastic teacher who
prepared them with questions as
well as specific goals to attain from
the experience.
LWF will continue to organize
Wild Class and citizen science
eventsaspartof itsnewconservation
education
programming
and
partnership
with
membership
conservancies. The
Kids Twiga
Tally Challenge
was just another
project in collaboration with the
MpalaResearchCentre.
CitizenSciencegetsanotherbigboost inLaikipia–withkids leading theway!
Stay tuned for the results of the
Kids Twiga Tally Challenge in our
next issue!
Primary Schools that attended the
Kids Twiga Tally Challenge were:
Ndururi Primary School, Kibera
GirlsSchool, BrookhouseAcademy,
St. Christopher’s (Nanyuki), Mpala
Academy, Kimanjo Primary, andOl
Gaboli.
Dr. PaulaKahumbu talkswithacitizenscientist fromKiberaGirlsSchool
MpalaAcademystrikesapose
1,2,3,4,5,6,7 8
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