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Kenyan talks wildlife conservation
In the casual atmosphere of Bayview teacher Scott Mauks classroom, students heard about one mans fight to save wildlife in his home country of Kenya.
Josphat Ngonyo, 34, is the founder of Youth for Conservation in Kenya, an organization aimed at involving young people in wildlife protection issues.
Ngonyo is on a speaking tour in the United States and stopped by the South Whidbey schools on Monday morning.
Mauk said Josphats experiences are an important lesson in youth leadership and how a grassroots organization can make an impact.
Ngonyo founded Youth for Conservation in 1998. A school teacher, he was orphaned at age 10 and went on to earn his university education by peddling clothing on the streets of Nairobi.
While he was working for the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust elephant orphanages in Nairobi and at Tsavo National Park, he saw a need for an indigenous Kenya-based conservation organization that could involve young people. The group does wildlife advocacy and education, tree planting, litter clean-ups, and offers an ecotour package to Kenya visitors.
Ngonyo said his groups first project was clearing bushmeat poachers snares from the Kenyan national parks. Its still the organizations main focus.
Bayview students watched a presentation of graphic photos of animals injured and killed by illegal snare traps.
Some of the traps choke the animals to death. Elephants are given poisons, including anthrax, to kill them.
Some poisons can bring an elephant down in 30 minutes, Ngonyo said.
His group has performed desnaring sweeps since 1988, and that work has led to the removal of more than 6,500 illegally-placed snares from the perimeters of many wildlife areas.
Ngonyo told the students the groups biggest achievement to date was in 2004, when they persuaded the president of Kenya to veto a bill which would have reinstated trophy hunting in Kenya.
The Youth for Conservation seeks members worldwide. For more information visit the Web site at youthforconservation.org.