Wildlife Works’ regional directors from around the world, with the REDD+ directors from the U.S. and Kenya offices, and the top performers from each department of our Kenyan Project, gathered for an educational day of exploration in and around the rural communities we serve!
The aim of this big day was for the directors of REDD+ projects and Wildlife Works employees to experience the beauty of rural Kenya, to learn about the community projects we have already accomplished, and to get to know the local residents and hear their needs for future community projects.
Everyone gathered at Camp Kenya, an eco-tourism site on our land, and divided into 6 teams with 6 or 7 people per team. The event was made up of multiple challenges including a treasure hunt, sightseeing, a community questionnaire and a scavenger hunt. Each team was equipped with a map of our project area in southeast Kenya, a GPS and a list of questions.
The teams visited 5 ranches, Rukinga, Taita, Mgeno, Kambanga and Maungu, located close to our project area.
For the treasure hunt, the teams were instructed to travel to certain GPS points and find a clue that would direct them to the location of the treasure. For example, at Mawe Mrefu, once the team reached the GPS location they discovered a riddle that read:
“Beneath the tree,
On top of the rock.
If you can’t find me,
A baboon’s knocked me off!”
The treasure was a cache of soapstone coasters in a variety of colors. The goal of the treasure hunt was for each group to collect a full set of matching coasters by the end of the day.
Each group’s starter kit included a community questionnaire that would help the teams discover what’s new in Kasigau, ask for the local peoples’ thoughts about our current REDD+ projects and find out what additional community projects they would like to see in the future.
The questionnaire led the teams to the Marungu Secondary School, the Makwasinyi water tank, the Buguta Disabled Group at Buguta Community Library, Ranger Post 6.0, the Amy Nicholls Memorial Centre in Bungule, Kasigau Chief Kizaka’s office, the Marungu Hill Conservancy Association, and the Jora Women’s Basket Group, where team members could take a break for lunch. The Women’s Basket Group welcomed each team with traditional dancing, and some of the directors and managers joined in!
For the scavenger hunt, teams had to purchase or find specific items throughout the day. The groups were given some money to buy a stuffed animal from the Buguta Disabled Group and a basket from the Jora Women’s Group. Team members also needed to find an herbivore tooth, a twig of Acacia Tortilis (also known as the Umbrella Thorn tree), some frankincense resin from a Boswellia tree, and some elephant dung.
Team members could collect points for spotting wildlife while on their journey, and many got to see African elephants, giraffes, buffalo, lions and various species of birds. The employees spent the day hiking on red sandy soil, climbing up hills to take photos and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
The finish line was at the Susana Bar in Maungu where the teams trickled in and relaxed over drinks and stories about the day. Wildlife Works’ Conservationist Manager Cara Braund, who organized the event, tallied up each groups’ total points and chose a winner. Landscape Manager Danny Woodley’s team won, though all teams were acknowledged for an element they performed well.
The winning team received a hand-stitched Panamanian decorative piece of fabric traditionally worn as a front panel on clothing, which will be on display at the Kenya office.
Lider Sucre, Regional Director for Latin America, said, “The sites we visited, the community people we spoke with, the amazing wildlife, and getting to know the Rukinga team really made a big difference for me in understanding the project and our impact. For instance, it was EXCELLENT that I was teamed up with Bernard, Lenjo, Muhammed and Brown for the treasure hunt. I got to know their personalities and their superb attitudes. Bernard really excelled at identifying wildlife and Lenjo was so gracious with greeting all the different community members. I got to see them in their element and appreciate their vocation and dedication.”