The use of film to educate young minds is a tool that conservation education has taken advantage of for years. In partnership with Ol Pejeta Conservancy (OPC) and the Rufford Foundation, LWF continued to enhance conservation education using nature based films, hosting screenings for students in various local schools and communities living adjacent to the Conservancy.
The idea of the venture was to increase the level of understanding about wildlife, their respective habitats, wildlife conservation and management and how to improve community participation. It was hoped that the venture would trigger an eagerness to participate in wildlife management activities as well as appreciate the care for other natural resources.
The communities that live in and around OPC, in an ecosystem where wildlife thrives, have limited knowledge on the management of the resource continues to be limited. By introducing creative awareness of wildlife conservation and other related activities such as tree planting in schools, community areas and homesteads can be transformed and assist in keeping the landscape intact for future generations.
In addition, creating open spaces in schools and at surrounding trading centres where artistic expression through murals on building walls continues to stir interest in wildlife management and helps strengthen existing environmental clubs and networks.
The Rufford Foundation, formerly the Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation, is a trust based in the United Kingdom that funds nature conservation projects by small or medium-sized organizations in developing countries. The Foundation funded the Conservation Education Outreach Project initiated in February 2015 through a small Grant. Over the years the project has continued to achieve its aim and objectives.
There have been notable achievements and successes since the commencement of the project such as:
- The provision of Rufford Small Grants to meet the budget costs;
- Continued support from the implementing team an organisations;
- Active and response audiences’ i.e. young learners and community members.
The initial stage of the project involved setting up a support network with key organisations such as African Environmental Film Foundation (AEFF) and Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF). AEFF donated 25 environmental themed films and documentaries to the project giving easy access to schools and other academic institutions within Laikipia through an established LWF network. The project was then introduced to teachers attending environmental education workshops organised by LWF while OPC did the same for local communities. In January 2016, the project was introduced to environmental educators from the larger Laikipia region during a 10 day training workshop on environmental education held in OPC.
Project contribution and outcomes
- The conservation education outreach schedules have created opportunities to reach out to wider target audiences in remote areas.
- Through the nature based films, school going children and members of the local communities have had a chance to visually experience wildlife, their behaviours and their natural habitats increasing their awareness about wildlife conservation.
- Through local community barazas (meetings), conservation issues have been discussed especially those that address human-wildlife conflict.
The project did face various challenges during its implementation, some of which were;
- The manoeuvring around a challenging road network during the rainy season causing slight delays in the activities schedule.
- Lack of information on conservation and use of Swahili translated films.
- Set public school curricular proved to be inflexible to the introduction of the project, restricting the number of students who participated in the project.
LWF will continue to work with the Rufford Foundation, OPC and other key stakeholders in enhancing Conservation Education for local, national and international audiences, as well as look for ways to ensure a sustainable model for Conservation Education in Laikipia is implemented.