Once again the Year 8 pupils travelled to the western shore of Lake Baringo to collect data from fields managed by the Rehabilitation of Arid Environments Trust (RAE). They compare vegetation cover, drainage rate and species variety with data collected from unmanaged land which is currently not part of the scheme. It is a stark contrast. The managed areas are covered in grass which is harvested for seed or carefully grazed by a reduced number of cattle. The fields are fenced and trees are planted. Locals can generate income from selling seed, thatching grass, wood used for fence posts or keeping bees. The most obvious difference is the quality of the cattle that are being fattened for market. Simple, sustainable methods allow the community to earn regular income while protecting the environment in which they live.
Once the pupils had completed their data collection and headed to the RAE headquarters for a Elizabeth Meyerhof one of the founders of the Trust. I was impressed with the intelligent questions the children asked, showing a genuine interest in the work and lives of the community. They raised issues about conflict between ethnic groups, between humans and wildlife and they made mature suggestions about how these could be managed.
The more luxurious part of our visit was spent on an island in the lake, where the pupils stayed overnight. The next morning the pupils enjoyed a boat trip to another island where they had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife, including giraffe, ostrich and warthogs, in the Ruko Conservancy. They also visited the hot springs on Ol Kokwe Island, as well as watching the graceful fish eagles swooping down to take the fish that were thrown for them.
All in all, the trip was a great success and the pupils are now working hard to analyse the data they collected and to write up their projects for their Common Entrance examinations.