Trophy hunting has always been a hotly debated issue in conservation circles, but a series of highly publicized canned hunts has brought the conversation to a larger audience. Discussions about the ethical ramifications of big game hunting are happening in every medium available, which is why it was no surprise when the New York Times joined the conversation. Norimitsu Onishi’s article, ‘A Hunting Ban Saps a Village’s Livelihood’ (Sept 12, 2015) is a thoughtful, well-written piece urging its predominantly western audience to consider more than just animal welfare when discussing the practice of trophy hunting. Onishi argues that the end of trophy hunts has negatively impacted communities like Sankuyo, the Botswana village mentioned in the article’s title. Sankuyo’s inhabitants, he writes, have lost interest in conservation because they no longer see economic benefits to it. The end of trophy hunts, O...
That's right! After all the waiting, planning, and last minute hot water bottle purchases we're finally on the ground in Namibia. Which means it's time to give our friends at home a better idea of what we'll be up to for the next several weeks. This year, Kedge has partnered with the award winning N/a’an ku sê Foundation and N/a’an ku sê Lifeline Clinic to work with the Ju/’Hoansi San population in Epukiro.
Last August, with the help of the Lifeline Clinic, the San built their very first cooperative store in the Epukiro area. The brick and mortar store has been finished, and now we're coming in to help supplement the San community's business education. We've already held our intro day and met our class of about 30. Pretty soon Alexa and Kelly will be getting started with our very first classes of 2015.
It’s hard to believe but June has come and gone, which means Kedge has completed its pilot program!
In our final class, Alexa and I taught the participants some of the basics of sales and marketing for their businesses. Split into teams, each group was charged with trying to sell the other a mystery product (that turned out to be rocks and wood!). Armed with what they learned in class, our students had to rely on their sales abilities and marketing to convince the other team to ‘buy’ their product. As the group learned: presentation can make all the difference!
After our marketing session, we moved outside where Alexa taught the group some basics of wilderness first aid. Once briefed, everyone took turns trying treat a different ailment. As it turns out, the most popular role to play during this exercise was the victim!
To close out the course, we held a small ceremony where everyone receive...
Amid a difficult week for Kenya, we've been continuing to work and spend time in the community between Kedge classes. Joe's been taking impromptu lessons from local friends in kiMaasai, the Maasai language, and I've been visiting Maasai homes to learn more about what the needs and challenges of the community are.
In our first Kedge class, we talked about the market economy and local ecology; our paritcipants had fun with our first activity in which they each got "mystery bags" that represented skills in the regional marketplace, then got to try to trade/sell those skills in exchange for other goods and services. Afterward, we took the class outdoors to begin conservation skill-building; learning to use and care for binoculars, and learning to identify some common bird species. We also went over concepts of market forces as well as responsibility for conservation and the value of enjoying nature.
After a big storm came through and dropped some much-needed rain (but also knocked out some of our network) your favorite Kedge field team found itself incommunicado until things could get up and running again.
Fortunately, all's back to normal, and not a moment too soon: yesterday marked the official start of Kedge classes, and we are pleased to say that it went excellently!
After our ten students piled into the Chief of Kawai's office (which he so graciously allowed us to use as our venue!), Alexa and I launched right into teaching the group about business basics (how local vs global markets work), and the pros and cons of owning your own business. After the business module, we introduced the basics of ecology, biome and ecosystem-level conservation, and niche theory. Finally, our brilliant colleague at the Anne K. Taylor Fund (AKTF), Elias , taught the team the basics of using binoculars and bird...
So Joe and I have arrived safely in the Mara, and we’re getting settled now into our field camp near the Oloololo Gate. We’re preparing to start the Kedge classes, and have settled on Tuesday as the best day to launch — one week from today. This way, our first class day will coincide with Market Day in Kawai (each medium-to-large town has one market day a week), so our students will be able to spend the morning with us, and then use the afternoon to do their shopping and selling in the market!
We’ll be based in the town of Kawai, where we met today with community leaders and old friends from our previous work in the area. With the support of a few very kind wazee (an mzee is a male community elder; wazee is the plural form), many younger community leaders, as well as the Warden of Oloololo Gate we’re in great shape to get started and very excited to meet our students at th...
As you know, we're launching Kedge with our first mini-training, starting in the western Maasai Mara Region of Kenya with the Maasai people on June 1st. We're very excited to get on the ground and start working, and we're delighted to have the support of the Anne K. Taylor Fund, Optics for the Tropics, and Duke University to get us started.
Joe and Alexa are already on their way to Kenya, while Courtney & I will hold down the fort here in the States. Our intrepid teammates will be touching down in Nairobi, picking up our Kenyan-bought teaching items from local vendors, and then packing up the jeep to head down to the Maasai Mara!
Fair winds and following seas, guys. We'll eagerly await your next blog post.