Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thinking Back on the First Days in Kenya

My tent for the first 2 nights

Today was my first official day day with the class, after a great day yesterday seeing the Nairobi sights I can't wait to see what will be in store for the next 10 days. Despite last night being my first nights sleep in over 24 hours, I wake up early, around 3:45. I forced myself to stay in bed until 6 am and then I head out to the patio to watch the sunrise and listen to the birds. I ate breakfast with Cole, one of my classmate that I will be traveling with after the course. We met a few other classmates as well.

At 10AM, the class began by meeting Sepiatech, an elder at the African Conservation Center, ACC. For the next 10 days we will be working closely with projects associated  with the ACC so it was nice to hear about it first hand and really understand their role in the conservation efforts around Kenya. The mission of the ACC in to integrate knowledge, environment and livelihood to ensure the local people are thriving in areas where animals need conserving. The ACC creates synergy between science and the traditional ecological knowledge, TEK. This idea of truly involving the people really excited me for the course and to see how it is being implemented successfully. One of the most powerful changes using this new approach was the precipitation of the wildlife by the locals. Sepiatech, explained that previous to the ACC the locals felt that the animals belonged to the government and so they no longer felt a connected or obligated to protect them if and when there were human wildlife conflicts. However, with the new constitution and the work done by the ACC the wildlife now belongs to the local people. With this change people feel ownership and empowered to want to protect the wildlife from conflict. I thought this was such a novel concept  and a great way to ensure community buy- in. As the talk wrapped up, Dave, one of the instructor of the course, explained that the major theme of the next 10 days would be co- existence. I am excited to see how this unique and positive way of looking at conservation works.

After the talk, the class had a great lunch of sandwiches and French fries, the food thus far has been so good, I am pleasantly surprised.

As a class, we really jumped into the work, as the first class discussion was right after lunch. The first group to go was the participatory education group and they lead us through a discussion of question development. We were able to ask the same question using different words to get a stronger participatory answer. It was  really neat exercise and a really good way to see how the words we use can shape the answers we get.

Black Faced vervit mother and baby
After the discussion, we were released for the day. So a few of us grabbed our cameras and headed around the property to take pictures of the wildlife we saw. My favorites was the troop of black faced vervit monkeys that were climbing on the roof. There was even a mother carrying her baby around with her and upon further examination, I noticed the was missing half of her forearm. This injury didn't seem to slow her down and it made me realize the resilience of the animals.

Super cool  moth that looks like a hummingbird.

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