By Bill Hudson | Special to The PREVIEW
Conservationist James Mwenda will be speaking at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library in Pagosa Springs on Wednesday, March 29, at 4:30 p.m. The presentation is free.
Mwenda served as caretaker for Sudan, the last known male northern white rhinoceros, during Sudan’s final years.
“Passion for my community and our native African wildlife landed me a renowned Ol Pejeta Conservancy position. Starting as a general laborer, I quickly moved up to rhino patrolman, tracked rhinos, collected data on these beautiful animals and ensured the ecosystem’s well-being. I continued my efforts on rhino patrol for two years, then moved up to rhino caretaker. For the next six years, I spent my days and nights protecting and looking after the last known northern white rhinos on Earth. My position started watching over four white rhinos, including Sudan, the last male northern white rhino.”
In the nine-year span of his career, he’s traveled to many cities worldwide to educate both children and adults in the name of conservation — visiting the U.K., Hong Kong, South Africa and the U.S., where he has spoken on the plights of endangered species and how each individual can truly make a difference.
“I have been privileged and excited to meet many amazing people such as visitors, students, volunteers and tourists through my conservation engagements and who came to see the rhinos at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy,” he said. “Inspiration for my work is a never-ending stream of positive energy from the rhinos I have worked with, to the people I’ve met on my travels and the majestic beauty of Kenya.
“I am proud to take action as a conservationist. My passion for wildlife was ignited by witnessing firsthand human-wildlife conflict with wild animals in my village at the foothills of Mount Kenya. As a result of this experience, I initiated and developed programs to ensure the continuation of animal species survival in Kenya. As a result of my efforts, I was awarded the African Ranger of the Year in 2018.”
At a young age, Mwenda had interactions with tourists who were visiting Mount Kenya. His earliest memories of tourism drew him to be obsessed with the huge safari vehicles and towering radio antennas used to talk back and forth. He says school was hard to access as a young boy in Kenya, as poverty-stricken communities don’t typically have educational opportunities.
“However, I was determined to work hard and pursue my interest in conservation. I wanted to address the human-wildlife conflicts in my village, and make a difference in the future,” he said.
He now leads conservation-oriented safaris in his native Kenya.
For more information, call Bill Salmansohn at (561) 400-7724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.