Changing Planet

Big Cats Bring Computer Education to Rural Tanzania

By Nabila Khouri

At the Noloholo Environmental Center on the Maasai Steppe in Tanzania, the environmental education staff of the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) are creating a curriculum to teach the children of nearby Loibor Siret Primary School how to use a computer.

In April of this year, a laptop computer, printer and solar panel were donated to the school by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative sister school, Hill Freedman World Academy. It is the first computer at a government school in the area, and to many teachers and most students, the first computer they have ever seen.

Although human and big cat conflict remains a prominent issue in this part of the Steppe, with environmental education the next generation will come to understand the cost of losing the big cats in the area. Only recently, a poisoning of a pride of lions occurred in the Steppe. Although the perpetrator was arrested and charged with the crime, this does not bring back the lives lost. Six lions were killed, as well as a hyena when a farmer retaliated after lions killed several of his cows. Sadly, if one of our unique predator-proof bomas – Living Walls – had been in place, the tragedy could have been avoided. Our big cat conflict officers have installed 228 Living Walls in six villages all over the Steppe. These living walls have helped to protect more than 50,000 head of livestock on a nightly basis, keeping many people and big cats safe. But, we obviously still need more.

At APW, we have always been motivated by environmental education, and its potential to help emphasize the importance of big cats in the ecosystem. Therefore, we hope that the use of the donated computer can help the children to discover and learn more about the incredible wildlife in their own backyards. Once the teachers at Loibor Siret Primary School have learned how to use the computer, they will then teach the students; a privilege that many children in the area won’t have unless they go to a private secondary school. In the future, the children will be able to research big cats online with the help of APW’s environmental education officers and Noloholo Environmental Scholars. And, they’ll come to understand just how sad the loss of those six lions is.

With the support of the National Geographic Big Cats Intiative and other partners and individuals, the African People and Wildlife Fund currently sponsors 16 students – Noloholo Scholars – so they can attend a private secondary school in Monduli, Tanzania. The students are from several villages and communities, on the Steppe, including Loibor Siret.

Husain Maricha has been a scholar for one year and is already thinking about becoming a wildlife biologist.

“After visiting Tarangire National Park last year I saw many animals and thought about how wonderful it would be to study them,” he said.

Although Husain still has time to decide what animal he would like to study, he already has one in mind.

“I love lions and I think it would be good to study them. They are very beautiful and proud, and I like that about them,” Husian said.

Husain isn’t the only scholar with big dreams after graduating from the Moringe Secondary School. Many of the scholars would like to attend university and are confident in their abilities to become future engineers, doctors and biologists. As we expand the reach of the Maasai Steppe Big Cats Conservation Initiative, we know our work will continue to inspire and motivate many more children and communities on the Steppe to protect the big cats, one individual, one community at a time.

Nabila Khouri is an intern with the African People and Wildlife Fund.

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media.

Assignments in 80 countries/territories included visits to a secret rebel base in Angola, Sahrawi camps in Algeria, and Wayana villages in the remote Amazon. Braun traveled with Nelson Mandela on the liberation leader’s Freedom Tour of North America, accompanied President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to their foundation’s projects in four African countries and Mexico, covered African peace talks chaired by Fidel Castro in Havana and Boutros Boutros-Ghali in Cairo, and collaborated with Angelina Jolie at World Refugee Day events in Washington, D.C. As a member of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, and media representative to the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration, he joined researchers on field inspections in many parts of the world.

Braun has been a longtime member/executive of journalist guilds, press clubs, and professional groups, including the National Press Club (Washington) and editorial committee of the Online Publishers Association. He served as WMA Magazine of the Year Awards judge (2010-2012), advisory board member of Children’s Eyes On Earth International Youth Photography Contest (2012), and multimedia/communications affiliate of the International League of Conservation Photographers (2015-2017).

David Braun edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world.

He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience.

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  • Siri Brown

    Good Job Nabi! Looking forward to more, and the pictures have been Amazing!

  • Siri Brown

    Good Job Nabi! Looking forward to more, and the pictures have been Amazing!

  • Alessandra Vanzella

    Very inspiring… the work of APW is indeed commendable!

  • Alessandra Vanzella

    Very inspiring… the work of APW is indeed commendable!

  • Coral Fernandez

    Great article Nabila and very interesting. So good that these young people will learn to use the computer and reap the benefits of knowledge!! I look forward to more.

  • Coral Fernandez

    Great article Nabila and very interesting. So good that these young people will learn to use the computer and reap the benefits of knowledge!! I look forward to more.

  • Betsey Brown

    My daughter and I would like to donate a computer and printer to the Seela School in northern Tanzania (which we recently visited on a trip to Tanzania). What suggestions do you have for us? Thank you in advance for any help you can give us.

    Betsey Brown

  • Betsey Brown

    My daughter and I would like to donate a computer and printer to the Seela School in northern Tanzania (which we recently visited on a trip to Tanzania). What suggestions do you have for us? Thank you in advance for any help you can give us.

    Betsey Brown

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