Annand has enjoyed two trips to Africa in the past year to help with wildlife efforts in Kenya.
What’s the connection between a third-grade class in the mountains of Western North Carolina and a wildlife conservancy half a world away in Africa?
It’s Director of Conservation Resources Fred Annand. Annand recently visited with Lisa Horak’s third grade class at Glen Arden Elementary in Buncombe County to tell them about the work that he is doing with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya. The kids came away with a better understanding of the Conservancy’s work in Africa. And as a bonus, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy gained some new financial backers in North Carolina.
Annand has a Coda Fellowship working with the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The Conservancy’s Coda Global Fellows Program mobilizes staff capacity and expertise through short-term assignments to address global needs and provide staff with the opportunity to contribute and learn beyond their program borders. Fred is using his expertise in protecting North Carolina land to help Lewa figure out how to acquire an additional 6,500 acres of important wildlife habitat.
The Lewa Wildife Conservancy is a wildlife sanctuary in eastern Kenya that teems with wildlife, including the rare and endangered black rhino. More than 12 percent of Kenya’s black rhinos, which are critically endangered, are found there. It also contains the largest single population of Grevy’s zebras and is home to lions, leopards and elephants.
“I work to protect land so animals will have places to roam,” Annand told the children. “You have big animals in Africa, and you have wet seasons and dry seasons. Elephants have to move with the seasons. An elephant can move 25 miles or more a day.”
Like the children in Mrs. Horak’s class, Annand had never seen an elephant outside a zoo until his first trip to Lewa last winter. “At my first meeting there, I counted 42 elephants that walked by in just one hour,” he said.
Annand showed the children pictures from his Lewa work, which elicited lots of “oohs” and “ahhs” and many questions – including one in response to a picture of Cape Buffalo. “Do buffalo wings come from buffalos?” asked one boy.
School children in Kenya benefit from Lewa’s work. Some of the money from tourists who visit the sanctuary supports the local schools. Annand showed the third graders pictures of the school at Lewa. “Look at your classroom,” he said. “And, look at this classroom. Do you see the difference? Four or five students are sitting at one desk. They might all share the same schoolbook.”
But, Annand explained that despite the conditions in many Kenyan classrooms – the country has a high literacy rate with most of its residents speaking three languages – Swahili, English and a local dialect.
The discussion about the Lewa School prompted Lisa Horak to make a request of her students. “School is really important to me,” she said. “Math is really important. Learning to read is important. We made our thousand chart, and we are going to start a little project. We are going to collect one thousand pennies for Lewa. Do you think we can collect a thousand pennies?”
One quick thinker in the class – who clearly understands his thousand chart – responded “That’s just ten dollars. I think we can do better than that.”
Note: As of this posting, the class had met its thousand penny goal and was continuing to fundraise.