Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supports Jacinta Njeri in 2022 to increase awareness about snakes in Baringo County, Kenya. Her project aims to invest in the next generation of snake conservation champions through education programs at schools that focus on snake biology.
Tackling Snakebites: Investing in the next generation of champions
Out of the 149 snake species found in Kenya, Baringo is home to 25% of this (38 species). Eight are highly venomous with five of these accounting for bites that require immediate medical attention namely, Black mamba, Red spitting cobra, Brown spitting cobra, Puff adder and Boomslang. Five out of the 38 are mildly venomous. A larger percentage of snakes are non-venomous and and often victims of wrongful identification which lead to persecution.
In Kenya, the education system does not emphasize learning about the value of nature in children. Therefore, children grow up without wholly appreciating nature and in most instances solely rely on traditional knowledge systems which could be misleading. This hugely jeopardizes environmental conservation and co-existence with uncharismatic animals such as snakes – often associated with evil or believed to be a bad omen.
Baringo county has reported one of the highest snakebite cases in Kenya, with 254 cases between January 2022 to July 2022 (excluding the unreported cases) according to the District Health Information system. This project aims to invest in the next generation of snake conservation champions through a teaching program for primary schools, offering opportunities to over 500 students from 3 schools to learn and get a simplified interpretation of snake behaviours. This will take place in Tiaty constituency due to the high number of reported cases attributed to its arid and semi-arid conditions that make a suitable habitat for a majority of snake species.
The educational program will bring biology, ecology and biodiversity value of snakes directly into classrooms while motivating the students to learn about the ecosystem that we are intrinsically part of and encourage them to think critically about conservation issues. Of more importance, we will train the students on snakebite prevention. Diverse, intelligent and empathetic knowledge on snakes will be key to changing and inspiring young minds, and creating a future generation of informed consumers, and conservationists alike.
Aims and Objectives:
This project aims to educate and foster a connection to nature in students by introducing them to the natural world of snakes so that they will gain knowledge, be inspired, and a develop sense of responsibility toward their conservation. Many educational programs that exist part of a study, lack plans for monitoring and to continue education in subsequent years. This project is the first in a series of education programs in learning institutions which will allow for follow up visits and monitoring the impact of the education program.
Through this project, students will receive one-hour lectures about snakes, their characteristics, and roles in the ecosystem, and recognising common misconceptions about snakes. Basic yet essential knowledge about snakes will provide them with a solid foundation for subsequent learning. Students will also have group discussions, do role-play exercises, and watch informative videos about snakes. The entire process of delivering snake conservation education will be refined and documented into a lesson plan to be availed to teachers in schools and other trainers for continued application beyond the project life. Education materials will also be distributed among students and members of community to promote awareness.
This project will educate approximately 500 students from 3 local primary schools about the biology and ecology of snakes, basic taxonomy, and differentiation between venomous and non-venomous snakes through practical and interesting examples from their own locality. This will assist in the larger goal of reducing incidences of snakebites and snake persecution through snakebite prevention and mitigation lessons and educative materials (posters, fact sheets and teaching manual). Teachers will also be empowered to continue education about snakes beyond the current project period and education material will be disseminated to the local community to promote snake and snakebite awareness and create a rapport for future projects.
Jacinta providing an educational talk about snakes.
Support Snake Conservation
Jacinta Njeri’s project is a recipient of the 2022 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like their snake conservation project in Kenya. Thank you for your support.