News

Kenyan talks wildlife conservation

Kenya resident Josphat Ngonyo spoke to students at Bayview School Monday about his efforts to protect wildlife in his home country. Behind Ngonyo is Merritt Clifton, publisher of “Animal People,” a newspaper focused on worldwide animal welfare issues. Clifton hosted Ngonyo’s visit. - Gayle Saran
Kenya resident Josphat Ngonyo spoke to students at Bayview School Monday about his efforts to protect wildlife in his home country. Behind Ngonyo is Merritt Clifton, publisher of “Animal People,” a newspaper focused on worldwide animal welfare issues. Clifton hosted Ngonyo’s visit.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

In the casual atmosphere of Bayview teacher Scott Mauk’s classroom, students heard about one man’s 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 Josphat’s 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 group’s first project was clearing bushmeat poachers’ snares from the Kenyan national parks. It’s still the organization’s 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 group’s 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.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 23 edition online now. Browse the archives.