Category Archives: Elephants & Bees

Including beehive fence activities

Kileva Eastfield pupils help to keep the environment clean

Below is another article from Rachel Abbott from the Elephant & Bees team.

Enjoy!

Cliff


To Make Our Environment Beautiful!

Posted on May 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Report by International intern, Rachel Abbott

This lovely Thursday morning,  students from Kileva Eastfield Primary School joined Elephants & Bees team members for a community clean-up! The E&B team is keen to engage the students in caring for the environment. Every Wednesday we teach a one hour environmental and wildlife education lesson to Class 8 students, and we lead ongoing efforts to revitalize the school’s permaculture garden while enhancing their nutrition education and contributing to the kids’ daily diet. The E&B team is committed to working together with the school to keep these kids healthy, happy, and loving the land they live on and the animals that surround them.

E&B team members with Kileva students and a small fraction of the trash we collected (Photo by Remke Lasance)

We began the clean-up day at the school, handing out big garbage bags and gloves to the 10 or so students who were there on time. The kids loved their latex gloves, though they struggled a bit to get them over their tiny fingers! They worked in pairs to collect as much garbage as possible, with the promise of juice, snacks, and fun prizes at the end of the morning.

Getting ready to kick-off the clean-up (Photo by Remke Lasance)

 

Soon after we fanned out and began collecting rubbish, more and more kids joined in the fun. By the end, we had nearly 30 kids reaching deep into the bushes to collect every piece of garbage they could find (soda bottles, crisp packets, plastic bags…etc). I personally am at the tail end of my internship with E&B, and after two months of being around these smiley, polite, goofy, hard working children, this was an amazing way to bring to a close my own involvement with the school.

However, the E&B team is just getting started, and the relationship this team has built with the children and staff I know is everlasting. This community is incredibly tight knit, as evidenced by the way kids seemed to just trickle in every few minutes as we made our way through the community, garbage bags in gloved hands! The kids, just like kids anywhere, love to be together and have fun – and these children are particularly good at making any situation memorable. Any time a little one noticed an especially large piece of trash, they would just look up at us with a coy smile like they had already won the prize.

 

Trying to get small fingers into latex gloves isn’t easy (Photo by Remke Lasance)

Back at the E&B Research Center we gathered for juice and snacks and reiterated the importance of ridding the community of litter, first by asking the question, why did they think this was an important goal? Above all, they proclaimed, “To make our environment beautiful!” They also said it would help prevent the spread of diseases and keep us and our environment healthy, which is after all, our ultimate goal – healthy kids, healthy community, healthy animals and environment. While we strive every day to create a space for humans and wildlife to live in harmony, we also can’t forget to care for that space and make it as beautiful and loving as possible!

One of the Class 8 students partnered with his younger buddy to collect trash

Asante sana to all of the energetic kiddos for coming and partaking in our day and to working with us to making the area we live in as free of rubbish as possible, and thanks to the E&B team for making me feel so at home these past few months.

Working together to gather every last piece (Photo by Remke Lasance)

 

Encouraging Connection between Kileva Students and Nature

Below is an article by Rachel Abbott, one of the international interns based at the Elephants & Bees (E&B) Research Centre next to the Kileva Eastfield School in Mwakoma. It’s a good reminder of the continuing great work that the E&B team from Save the Elephants organisation are doing with the kids at school.

Best wishes,

Cliff


Encouraging Connection between Kileva Students and Nature

Posted on April 5, 2017 at 9:59 am

International intern, Rachel Abbott

“Our task must be to widen our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures.” –Albert Einstein (painted on the wall of Kileva school)

The E&B team is busy this month, partnering with our neighboring primary school, Kileva Eastfield, to enhance their permaculture, environmental and wildlife education efforts, and to encourage a sense of connection between the children and the nature that surrounds them.

School girl watering crops in garden

Connections

After only three weeks spent here in Mwakoma village, it is abundantly clear just how connected all things are. We at the E&B Research Center are connected to the local farmers who maintain beehive fences, part of ongoing research that has demonstrated the efficacy of beehive fences to deter crop-raiding elephants. The farmers, in turn, are intimately connected to the environment, including the very big question on everyone’s minds: when will it rain?? The weather and the environment determine the best times to plant new crops each season, and the success of the crops has a real impact on the farmers’ and their families’ livelihoods. What the farmers decide to plant, and how much, determines what goes into the mouths of their children, how well they can grow and mature, and how able they are to be present and learn at school.

Resilience

It’s beautiful to be in a community so bound to the natural world, its fate so closely linked to forces outside any one person’s control. As the environment undergoes drastic changes, such as rain shortages, heat waves, and drought, so too do the farmers experience an ebb and flow in their crop production. The result can be hunger, food insecurity, and stress for the farmers and their families. However, as I’ve witnessed, the farmers are resilient, optimistic and incredibly hard working. What makes their life’s work so beautiful is that they don’t fight the environment, they feel their sense of connection to the world around them, and they appreciate the unique roles nature, animals, and humans all play in sustaining and nurturing our shared planet.

Group of school kids in the permaculture garden next to KilevaEastfield Primary School

Human-Wildlife Conflict

What else gets in the way of successful farming, besides the environment? This is where human-wildlife conflict, or more specifically, human-elephant conflict, come to the fore. Elephants, who are experiencing the effects of drought and a changing environment themselves, wander outside the bounds of Tsavo East and West in search of food and water. This can often lead to humans and elephants attempting to occupy the same spaces, and vie for the same resources, namely farmers’ precious crops and water. To make matters more difficult, elephants tend to do their wandering during the dark hours of night, and when they enter small farms and villages, their presence is overwhelming. Though we know them as wise, loving creatures, weighing up to 7 tons, their sheer presence can be quite terrifying.

The E&B team, and Save the Elephants more broadly, is committed to promoting harmonious living between humans and elephants. The entire community, including the Kileva school, has a role to play if this goal is to be achieved.

Selfie of one of the younger school kids with me

The Kileva Garden

The E&B team is testing four key crops in the Kileva school garden this season, in accordance with three primary aims: (1) to test crops that are palatable to bees; (2) to test crops that are non-palatable to elephants; and (3) to test crops that have high yields and contribute nutritionally to the school lunches, which currently consist primarily of maize and beans. The health of the students is of the utmost importance to everyone, because these children who go to school on the same plot of land where we live and work, represent the future of this community, and represent the best chance these elephants have of a secure future here in Tsavo.

The four key crops, per the image below, include: kale (sukuma), spinach, cowpeas, and sugar watermelons.

Environmental Education

In addition to the garden, the E&B team teaches environmental education lessons every Wednesday to the class 8 students. Lesson topics include human-elephant relations, big cats and predators of Africa, oceans, climate change and geography, and more. We also started to hold  community movie nights, featuring movies with breathtaking scenes of all types of environments on Friday evenings at Kileva.

The students are the most important players when it comes to their health, safety, and the sustainability of the environment around them. We are planning to hold a first aid workshop after the school holidays next month, and to donate two fully stocked first aid kits to the school so they are empowered to manage minor ailments on site. Other plans for the future include creating a school library of books tailored to the younger children and holding story times with class 2 and 3 students, featuring stories of humans living harmoniously with the environment, to enhance English-language learning and foster a love of nature in the youngest of students. We are committed to supporting Kileva’s Farm Club students, and helping them learn about the benefits of composting and maintaining their newly planted garden.

School girls filling up watering can from tanks that catches water off the main school building

Aim

The primary aim for all of these projects is to encourage the students, and the staff, to appreciate their connection to all living things, and to prioritize the health and safety of the next generation, of children and of elephants, who we hope can peacefully coexist here in beautiful southern Kenya for generations to come.

School kids with their Conservation booklets from the Elephant Ignite visit

 

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