16 August 2023
KENYAN COMMUNITY WALKS ON THE WILD SIDE
Last week, hundreds of community members and school children walked 20,000 steps in support of elephant and lion conservation in Meru National Park, Kenya.
On Wednesday 9th August, on what was a cold and bright morning, more than 400 community members and school children gathered at Murera Gate – one of the entrances to Meru National Park – all with a single goal: to take part in the ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ celebrations. The event, spearheaded by the Born Free Foundation and the Kenya Wildlife Service, endeavoured to raise awareness about the plight and conservation needs of lions and elephants in Kenya.
This is the second ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ event, with the inaugural walk being held last August. The celebration combines World Lion Day and World Elephant Day, which are marked on August 10th and August 12th respectively. Born Free and our partners (namely Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, the Elewana Collection, the County Government of Meru, and local schools) came together to raise awareness, educate and urge support for conservation of all wildlife and ecosystems in Meru National Park.
Through Born Free’s exemplary field work in the Meru ecosystem, 74 adult lions and 20 cubs, as well as 325 African savannah elephants, have been individually identified and catalogued. This marks a significant step towards understanding the populations, demographic trends, ecology, and habitat dynamics of these two iconic species. This is critical information that will enable us implement humane, simple, and effective conservation solutions tailored towards providing long-term protection to these threatened species and their ecosystems amidst a fast-changing environment.
The participants of the ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, both young and old, cheerfully trekked the five miles (eight kilometres), starting from Murera gate. With determination written all over their faces, the walking team strived to complete their mission. Everyone converged at Methodist Church, in Kiutine. Entertainment from the school pupils ensued – with songs, dancing and short skits all bearing the message of the day – the importance of lion and elephant conservation. The Ameru Cultural Self Help Group stole the show with their very well-rehearsed and choreographed folk song, Utuku mwana o Baiburi, ndere nja… i ngikaria simba na njogu (translated it means “at night I, daughter from Baiburi (Meru area), spent the night guarding lions and elephants”). It was truly a great dance for lions and elephants!
The speakers in the event emphasised the value of co-existence between humans and wildlife, the vital ecosystem services humans derive from protected areas and forging strategic partnerships in the conservation of all wildlife species. Born Free’s Country Director, along with other guests, planted and watered Markhamia lutea trees and urged those present to embark on restoration efforts of the rangelands on which all life depends.
Born Free’s Country Director, Tim Oloo, plants Markhamia lutea trees, as part of the Walk on the Wild Side celebrations (c) Born Free
Representatives from County Government of Meru proudly applauded the effort of Born Free and Kenya Wildlife Service because of their ongoing and crucial work with the communities neighbouring Meru National Park. They pledged to increase the scale of participation in such events and guaranteed that the next ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ will be bigger and better!
If you feel inspired by our Kenyan community’s Walk on the Wild Side, it’s not too late to show your support! You can donate to their fundraising effort on their Walk on the Wild Side Just Giving Page – every penny will help lion and elephant conservation efforts!