How Well Do You Know Your Environment?
There are those in our midst who understand wildlife biology and are expert in their biomes and ecology while others are at home in fields such as sociology, political science, and law. Some of us come to wildlife activism with no other training than a firm conviction that it is the right thing to do—to bend ourselves to do all that we can to contribute in any way to prevent the extinction of elephants in the wild.
I sat there in amazement as Jacob, my friend and colleague narrated his experiences on the journey he has taken while spreading the gospel of conservation – asking us simple but hard questions about the environment, as we were chagrined at our ignorance.
Stories and facts about elephant and rhino horn poaching, or of game meat, are nothing new and are well known and he widely discussed these topics. The same destruction is happening to habitat. Trees are being felled illegally every day and in high numbers, forming an equally serious threat. Tree cover guarantees rainfall and acts against soil erosion and for many animal species, the tree leaves provide a needed source of food and nutrition. Yet trees around protected areas of Kenya’s National Parks are becoming fewer and harder to come by. The demand for timber is high, so high that nowadays people are desperate enough to take high risks in obtaining the desired wood and are cutting trees inside the parks, such as Tsavo National Park.
And I thought of the many creative, talented individuals in Kenya today who have misplaced priorities; whose biggest achievement, according to them, may be posting a Facebook post that gets many likes or a tweet that gives them a lot of interactions, the many online enthusiasts who are ready to bark at a fellow online user because they can write good English and argue about things that matter most to people two worlds away, the propaganda spreaders, the poets who are confident only because they receive snaps after every punch line they deliver, and myself. I saw how little I know about my country, about Africa, especially about the most important things – land, the economy, the business of politics, and the real value of having a healthy environment.
Today some may view me as a knowledgeable person, but I’m barely done knowing myself. I have a whole continent to explore, and so do you. Our dirty politics is killing us. And now this ignorance is taking away the magic of mother Earth, because we think we are getting wiser with all this noise happening around in the news and tech world, seldom considering the effects these developments have on the place we live. So, how well do you know your environment?
The Tsavo West National Park is a section of one of the largest wildlife conservancies on the planet, as well as one of Kenya’s largest wildlife national parks. It is well-known for its resident population of Red Elephants as well as the tale of the Tsavo Man-eaters. Unfortunately, most of the communities bordering these parks have never had a chance to visit them due to the cost. For these reasons Amara organizes game drives with Purdue University students each year into Tsavo West National Park. We also encourage children to form Wildlife Clubs and embrace their wildlife and environment. This year Mrabenyi Secondary School in Taita Taveta County had the opportunity to tour the vast Park and interact with the University students from USA.
tHistorically, the Tsavo Area is renowned for the Man-eaters of Tsavo, two mane-less lions who developed a taste to prey on humans back in the early 1900’s (various reasons are cited for this, one recently being that they suffered from tooth decay and pain that made hunting difficult for them!). Although they were later shot, they killed many people that were constructing the railway line connecting Mombasa and Nairobi. Additionally, it was the main battlefield between the Germans and the Britons in Africa in the course of World War I. Currently the area is very peaceful and is now famous for its resident Red-colored Elephants, that enjoy dust-bathing in the red colored soil. The serene environment of Tsavo comes mainly with thorny bushland, open grasslands and among the most beautiful scenic areas are; the Yatta plateau, the World’s longest lava flow stretching 290km; Mzima springs; Shetani Lava Flow; Chaimu Hill; and Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary.