PHOTO ARK CHALLENGE INITIATIVE (PACI) NAIROBI- REPORT, 2017
NAIROBI AFRICAN CROWNED EAGLES PROJECT AND NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
KARURA FOREST, LUMURU ROAD GATE- KFEET
23RD NOVEMBER, 2017
The Photo Ark challenge is an initiative that has lasted over a decade now. It all started when the founder (Joel Sartore) felt that it was necessary for people to realize that about a half of all the species we have in the world would be wiped out in the next century. Something had to be done to avoid this catastrophe. Joel started a journey to make beautiful and stunning portraits of all the animals that were in danger, so that people could have a close look at their beauty, and make initiatives to protect these wonderful species.
YCAP is a project under the sustainability department of Cisticola Tours LTD. YCAP focuses on creating environmental awareness among the youth in Kenya with an aim of converting them to conservationists and people who advocate for sustainable development. YCAP does this by upgrading schools to learning institutions that understand and practice ESD. For these reasons, it was necessary for the African Crowned Eagle Project to partner with YCAP in preparing and executing an environmental education day with the image of the Photo Ark Challenge.
The preparations for the day started a few weeks before the 23rd of November 2017. YCAP proposed the theme of the day to be ‘Eagles are cool’ in line with the aim of drawing the youth’s attention to the magnificent African Crowned Eagle.
Thanks to Jordan Lim (National Geographic Society), all the required material and support was available on time to make a smooth preparation for the long awaited day. Washington Wachira (African Crowned Eagle Project) kept constant communication with Jordan, as Wilfred Savali (YCAP) continued to mobilize students in various learning institutions across the country to warm up to the event.
The event was attended by students from a wide range of learning institutions. We had 41 students from 7 universities, 3 colleges, 12 high schools and 1 primary school. This wide distribution was crucial in ensuring that the Photo Ark Challenge word was distributed to even more youth across the country that did not have the chance to attend the event.
We also had 11 professionals from various institutions:
- Friends of Karura Forest
- African Wildlife Foundation
- Lukenya Girls High School – Deputy Principal
- Africa Photo House
- Kenya Museum Society
- Explorer’s Club of Kenya
- Friends of Karura Forest
- National Museums of Kenya & Kenya Herpetofauna Working Group
- Imagine IMC
- Cisticola Tours LTD
Two more institutions were unable to send representatives but donated a lot of materials (magazines, posters, leaflets) that were very helpful in the event. These institutions were:
- East African Wild life Society (EAWLS)
- Wildlife Clubs of Kenya (WCK)
The following were the main activities of the day:
- Talks from experts
We had professional talks from some the experts that were present that day. Beryl Bwong (NMK & Kenya Herpetofauna Working Group) gave an insightful talk about reptiles and some common species in the country. John Wanyoike (Cisticola Tours) gave a talk on the importance Birds and how to identify different species.
We had a film segment where the students enjoyed a documentary made by Washington Wachira called Urban Crowns. This was important in setting the mood ready for the main species of the day which was the African Crowned Eagle.
In this segment, the students were taken for a walk in the forest by the professionals (John Wanyoike, Beryl Bwong and John Chege). The students were able to identify reptiles like the Jackson’s Forest Lizard and the Kenya Red-headed Rock Agama. Many species of birds were recorded including a beautiful couple of the Grey Crowned Crane, the Speckled Mousebird, Superb Starling, and White-browed Sparrow-Weaver among many others. The students also went to the historical Mau Mau caves that were used by freedom fighters as well as the wonderful waterfall along the Karura River.
- Photo Ark Challenge
This was the most exciting segment where all the students were involved in a competition. The group was divided into four:
- Two university/college/high school groups – They took part in creating a short play with the theme ‘Eagles are cool’.
- Two Primary school groups – They took part in composing songs with the ‘Eagles are cool’ theme.
Each of these groups was allocated two supervisors from the experts that were present to guide them through the competition. After only 15 minutes of composing and rehearsing, the students took to the stage to showcase their creativity. The judges were the experts that were present.
After the performances, the judges went outside to decide their verdict and when they came back the winners were crowned with various gifts. The gifts were donated by National Geographic Society and YCAP.
AWARDING OF CERTIFICATES
Each student was awarded with a certificate of participation from National Geograhic thanks to Jordan Lim who made sure we had enough for everybody. The experts were also awarded with a certificate for their active and crucial participation in the event.
The Photo Ark challenge initiative brought an exciting aspect of how youths can be engaged in discussing conservation, and appreciating what nature has to offer. The students were very happy and this assured us that the message was conveyed effectively. We would like to thank National Geographic Society for their immense support and ensuring that the day was successful. We also thank all the experts that came to give their much needed input. A special Thank you also goes to Friends of Karura Forest for hosting us, East African Wild life Society and Wildlife Clubs of Kenya who donated a lot of materials that we used. This was a successful day and we hope that National Geographic Society will continue supporting and partnering with us in the future.