Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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The Link Between Trees and Cats
Written by Mary Wykstra and Julie Good
In March 2008, Cheetah Conservation Fund Kenya (CCF) (now Action for Cheetahs in Kenya) and the Ewaso Lions Project (ELP) hosted tree planting projects in Salama (Ukambani) and Samburu schools respectively. One of the goals of the tree planting project was to help communities understand that the environment that supports carnivores is the same environment that supports people. Another goal of the project was to increase the understanding and support of the local people by helping them improve their local environment. Both CCF-Kenya (now ACK) and ELP aim to reduce the human/wildlife conflict that exists with predators near settlements and pastoral communities. To be truly successful in this venture, ACK and ELP need the support of the local people. The tree planting project is just one of the projects that helps ACK and ELP gain support and trust within the local communities.
In the tree planting project, the participating schools competed with each other for a field trip by seeing which school had the most success keeping their newly planted trees alive and thriving. The Salama children will visit the Samburu Reserve and the schools affiliated with ELP. The ELP schools will visit Nairobi National Park and the Salama children. Eco-Sys (Ukambani) and private donors (Samburu) sponsored the trees for the project. The children planted indigenous species such as Acacia sp., Lucena, Cassia saimea, and Balanites sp. They planted some decorative species including Neem and Jacaranda also.
400 trees were planted in Salama and count toward Eco-Sys Action’s pledge to plant 100,000 as part of the United Nations Billion Tree Campaign. Through this program, children not only learned that conservation is bigger than just their community, but that their community is linked to the environment around them. ACK and ELP conducted educational programs at the schools throughout the year to prepare the children for their trip. ACK and ELP also taught them about the role of predators in the ecosystem. For more information about ACK's partners ELP and Eco-Sys Action, please visit their websites.
Action for Cheetahs in Kenya needs your help. To make a donation, please visit Project Survival – www.cathaven.com/shop/
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