Project Simba, a program at The Center for Lion Conservation and Research, is a new model of conservation education, which translates science into action for students and educators in Kenya by using an integrated, experiential conservation education model.
We have designed educational initiatives to increase public awareness of conservation issues and concepts in local communities. This is especially important in Kenya’s unprotected wildlife habitat areas that overlap with human settlement. Our pilot program has been launched in the Samburu District, where vast areas of unprotected habitat are shared by humans and wildlife.
Project Simba provides people of all ages and backgrounds opportunities to participate in conservation projects that integrate social, economic, educational, and environmental activities in order to prepare them to be future stewards and decision makers for the earth’s shared resources. It reaches beyond passive recognition that problems exist to taking positive action to protect and restore habitat, mitigate human-lion conflict, and protect wildlife.
The Center’s overall mission is to conserve the seriously threatened African lion and other carnivores and rare, indigenous wildlife in Kenya. Our project collects baseline data on lion populations in order to understand their ecological and social structure in order to develop effective conservation strategies, while minimizing human-wildlife conflict. The Center uses a holistic, integrated program of biological research, public awareness and education, local capacity building, ecological restoration, and habitat management and restoration.
Our Wildlife Conservation Corps program provides opportunities for local employment and training in conservation and research-related positions.
provides funds for college education in exchange for conservation work to high school students and young adults.
The Project Simba conservation education program extends across four key areas of education: teacher education, student education, family education, and community education. Students participate in a consecutive ladder of conservation education programs, linking and building process skills and knowledge. It offers educators a system of professional development, designed to meet the short- and long-term needs of its teachers. Participating educators will experience a variety of professional development opportunities, including workshops and technological training. This is a model program designed to be used in schools across Samburu District and throughout Kenya.
The program trains and employs local Samburu residents to carry out the program, and gives opportunity for high school and college students to earn income towards tuition or other family expenses by becoming teacher assistants. Materials are developed to reflect and support the Samburu-Massai culture, translated into Samburu (Maa), Swahili, and English, and distributed to educators and community centers across the district. The project includes programs targeted to encourage girls to become interested in science and math. Project Simba’s after-school Science Explorers Club provides fun and interesting learning activities to supplement classroom lessons, field trips to local game reserves with the Saturday Safaris program, and nature hikes to teach students about local plants and wildlife species. The club has started an organic Community Garden in order to help the local community achieve more secure food resources. To support this, the children helped design and create a ‘gray’ water runoff irrigation system to water the plants and also helped build rain-water collection units in the community and solar ovens to decrease tree harvest and protect habitat. Students also participate in conservation projects such as recycling, clean-up projects, and tree-planting programs.
Amazingly, most local school children have never been into a conservation area and have never seen a lion or an elephant! Students and teachers participate in hands-on field trips in field sites on a variety of topics designed with CLCR staff partners with teachers to complement and extend classroom studies. Community volunteers provide assistance, help students actively question, observe, and explore the natural world and participate in service learning projects to enhance wildlife habitat. Outdoor activities complement and extend what students are learning in the classroom.
Science and Conservation Learning Center
LCR is constructing a Science and Conservation Learning Center to compliment local school facilities, the first of its kind in Samburu District. Here, students will have access to science laboratory equipment and materials, a science and conservation education library, video presentations, and computer equipment. At the end of the school year, a summer outdoor environmental program, Camp Simba, will be held for students. The annual program will also culminate with a Science Institute for participating teachers, providing opportunity to learn additional content and improve skills for teaching science literacy. During the week long Institute, teachers will expand their understanding of local biodiversity and will learn how their lessons affect students’ ability to acquire specific knowledge and skills in later grades.
Because Samburu is so remote, vast expanses of wilderness remain intact. All this is changing, however. Teamwork has been essential to the success of this initiative, which will ultimately involve more than 200 remote villages and 3 municipalities seeking to preserve their traditional way of life and conserve rare ecosystems in the face of globalization and resource overuse. LCF helps with capacity building, fundraising, and local outreach. We also work to promote sustainable and ecologically sound economic benefits for local people. Our passion is to integrate environment, civil rights, and indigenous rights. We believe that the best way to protect the earth’s natural resources is to offer the people closest to the land the necessary tools to be successful in advocacy, leadership, and conservation.
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