Onyango Stanley Omondi, a Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation scholarship student, came first in Nyanza Province and tenth in the country in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations – an exam taken by over 630,000 students.

LCCF has supported Stanley throughout his Secondary school education where he attended Maranda High School in Siaya County. Stanley’s father, Omollo has been Loisaba Conservancy’s Ranch Clerk for the past 21 years.

Stanley and Omollo at Loisaba after the results were announced….

The morning of the results, Omollo looked on the internet at the examination results and saw in tenth place ‘Omondi of Maranda School’ – however there are more than 20 Omondis at Maranda School. Omollo and the rest of the staff rushed to the Staff Village to watch the results being announced on TV at 1pm. “We were all in a state of panic, excitement and anxiety as we waited but unfortunately again the news just showed the single name”.

“I called my wife and told her that I had seen the name Omondi and I believed it was our son”. Omollo was told by his wife to not start singing about something you are not certain about!

On the 7pm news, in tenth place was Stanley Onyango, no mention of Omondi. The same position, same school but a different set of names – Omollo’s sons first names. “For me, that was confirmation. There was great excitement and everyone was jumping up and down in the hall as they all know Stanley well”. Omollo called Stanley but he was at a football match and was not home untill 8pm. That is when his father told him the news. He replied to his father “Yes, I have heard…”

Stanley has a two-week internship with Equity Bank this month and then hopes to study architecture at either Strathmore or Nairobi University. We wish him luck in the future and were fortunate enough to catch up with him last week and discuss his fantastic results.


Q + A with Stanley Omondi:

Where were you born?

I was born in Ambira Hospital, Ugunja Distict in Siaya County. I attended Pattand Academy Primary School and then went to Maranda High school also in Siaya County. My father was born in Siaya County but started work at Loisaba in Laikipia 1998.

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

I have one sister who is the eldest and three brothers, I am the second youngest. My two brothers and sister live in Nairobi, my sister is an actor there. I still live with my mother and younger brother and am very close to my family.

What was your parent’s response to your exam results?

I am not good at reading people’s expressions but I think they are just happy. I am starting a two week internship with Equity bank in January. They contacted me direct after the results came out.

What or who inspires you most?

I am yet to know that. I channel myself to achieve what I want. I set a goal and aim to achieve it.

What do you like most about studying?

Learning new things every day. Physics is my favourite subject.

What do you find the most difficult about studying? 

Getting the assignments given by teachers done. The teachers worked us very hard.  I was at Boarding school so it was easy to study there. It is difficult to study at home as I have many brothers asking me questions and work to do as well when at home.

What would you like to study at University?

I would like to go to university and study architecture. After that I am not aware as to what I will do, I will just plan as life goes on. In Kenya, I would like to go to university of Nairobi and Starthmore. But if given the opportunity I would like to go and study in the United States.

What do you love most about living in Laikipia?

I haven’t spent much time in Laikipia but when I was a kid I used to go horse riding which was fun with my brothers and Max Silvester.

Would you like to visit other countries?

I would like to go to Malaysia, to see the Orangutans. My friend went to the Gorilla conservation centre in Rwanda and did a video chat to us so we could see them.

What advice would you give to other children in order to succeed in exams?

I would tell them to give the concepts they have not understood time and not to hurry them and to also consult their teachers. I had a problem with kinematics in Maths. I gave it about three weeks, although it was only taught for about 3 days and after giving it time and consulting my teachers and doing exercises I understood it.

By: Izzy Parsons

Center Raises Awareness of Challenges Facing Elephants and Giraffes  

As poachers continue to kill thousands of elephants across Africa and an increasing number of giraffes, organizations throughout Kenya are banding together to develop strategies to help curtail the illegal killing of these iconic animals. Education is one of these key strategies. To share information about the challenges that wildlife is facing in the highlands of Kenya, a team of conservationists and specialists in interpretive educational messaging—from Loisaba Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, Space for Giants and San Diego Zoo Global—have created a one-of-a-kind conservation facility.

The Loisaba Conservation Center is located on a 56,000-acre wildlife conservancy in the Laikipia area of northern Kenya, a critically important wildlife habitat. The Center’s main space is decorated with graphical information about conservation and the threats to wildlife. Its aim is to become the hub for conservation education in Laikipia for Laikipia’s community, tourists, partner organizations, government agencies and students. The ultimate goal is for the Center to help inform those who visit Loisaba about community-based conservation and how this model, with their support, will help preserve the area’s habitat and the endangered animals that live here.

“One of San Diego Zoo Global’s goals is to raise awareness of the extent of international wildlife trafficking and its impact on threatened species,” said Debra Erickson, Director of Communications for San Diego Zoo Global. “Community-based education is a key tactic we are using to address this challenge, and we are honored to be included in developing a Conservation Center that is interpreting this issue and making a real difference in Africa.”

The Center was made possible by a generous donation from conservationist Sue Anschutz-Rodgers. She worked closely with architect Jim Archer on the design of the building, and San Diego Zoo Global designed the Center’s interpretive elements.

“The goal of the Loisaba Conservancy is to provide a long-term environment for the preservation of megafauna, such as giraffes and elephants, as well as to a diversity of endangered species,” said Tom Silvester, Chief Executive Officer of Loisaba Conservancy. “By building the Conservation Center, we now have a place to bring our guests, members of our community, staff, rangers and neighbors, so we can clearly show how the conservation work being done benefits both wildlife and the community.”

The first group of students from a village neighboring Loisaba toured the Center in December. Students were excited to not only learn more about the animals, but also the role of their community members in Loisaba—including wildlife ranger and bloodhound handler Joseph Ekaran, whose specially trained dogs are deployed not only to track down elephant and giraffe poachers, but also to help find lost children who have gone missing from nearby villages while herding their family’s livestock.

Loisaba Conservancy was established in 2014 by The Nature Conservancy, Space for Giants and the Loisaba Community Trust, to ensure that a migratory corridor remained for Kenya’s second largest elephant population. It also protects one of the largest remaining populations of reticulated giraffes, as well as endangered Grevy’s zebras, African wild dogs and hartebeest. Space for Giants has been involved in elephant conservation for more than 10 years in Loisaba and has established a multipronged approach for its work here. They are conducting a long-term research study of the family structures and spatial movements of the area’s elephants, as well as working closely with the Kenya Wildlife Service to monitor the illegal killing of these elephants and reduce human-elephant conflict. These partnership efforts have greatly reduced elephant poaching—not only in Loisaba, but in the whole of Laikipia.

“I have greatly enjoyed working with the experts at San Diego Zoo Global on the design of the Conservation Center,” stated Matt Brown, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy in Africa. “It’s another excellent example of how partnerships are vital to success, as not one organization ever has all the skills required to address the challenges and opportunities in a diverse landscape like Laikipia.”

San Diego Zoo Global has been working in Loisaba for more than four years and is trying to develop a basis for better understanding of reticulated giraffes. This socioecological research project is examining giraffe population levels, movements and ecology, as well as traditional ecological knowledge, and attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of local herders living alongside giraffes. This interdisciplinary approach includes community outreach and education programs, and staff will be using the Conservation Center for some of these programs.

San Diego Zoo Global has also created Wildwatch Kenya, a citizen science website (at wildwatchkenya.org) that allows individuals to help review photos from motion-activated cameras at more than 100 sites in Loisaba. The public’s efforts to identify and count the animals in the photos from these trail cameras are already helping wildlife researchers sort and catalog thousands of images. Visitors to the Conservation Center will be asked to participate in the program.

“Loisaba Conservancy is a great example of what effective conservation strategies look like,” said Shamini Jayanathan, Director of Wildlife Law and Justice at Space for Giants. “The Conservation Center provides a window into the world of the conservancy, and allows visitors to gain an understanding of elephants, their behavior and what needs to be done to protect them. It also continues to solidify our strong relationship with the local community—because elephants’ futures are very bleak if the community is not invested in their protection.”