Meet 17-year-old Yvonne Lekuraiyo from Westgate Community in Samburu. She’s just taken one step closer to pursuing her dream career as a wildlife vet, and we couldn’t be prouder! Yvonne is our first Conservation Scholar to receive a scholarship place on a Conservation Leadership Programme run by the Kenya Wildlife Trust (KWT).

The Safari Collection’s Footprint foundation were excited to recommend several of our past Conservation Scholars to this programme, which offers a high-quality, college level education on tropical ecology and conservation. The scholarship, which covers all tuition and accommodation fees, targets young people from the Greater Mara, Samburu, Laikipia, Tsavo and Amboseli regions of Kenya. To our delight, Yvonne got an interview and was selected to study for a Diploma in Wildlife Management at the Wildlife Training & Research Institute in Naivasha. For Yvonne, the scholarship is an opportunity to finally pursue her passion for wildlife.

17-year-old Yvonne Lekuraiyo at Sasaab

Collaborations such as this one with the KWT are invaluable in enhancing the community and conservation work that our Footprint foundation carries out. Yvonne has settled well into college life and is already the wildlife management class representative in the weekly bird-watching club. A leader in the making!

Yvonne’s Journey

Yvonne grew up in the Westgate Community surrounded by wildlife, vibrant tourism and the dynamic Samburu culture. Samburu people believe that in the past they lived in harmony with wild animals and through their stories and traditions, children such as Yvonne grow up with the value of wildlife instilled. Yvonne’s favourite animal is an elephant, followed closely by rhinos.

We had the pleasure of meeting Yvonne when she was 13 years old. This was back in 2019, when she was sponsored, along with a friend, by Sasaab guest Heidi Mcloughlin through our Conservation Scholars Programme. This initiative puts special emphasis on female scholars and has been life changing for the Samburu girls enrolled, opening the door for future opportunities they would otherwise not have access to. We hope that Yvonne, along with her peers, will become an ambassador for conservation within her community.

Yvonne at the KWT awards ceremony

Yvonne at the Wildlife Training & Research Institute, Naivasha

Yvonne excelled through high school and has enjoyed regular visits from her sponsor, especially when the girls were treated to a helicopter adventure at Sasaab! Another of the highlights along her scholarship journey was attending our Conservation Scholar’s Camp last year at Solio Game Reserve and seeing not just one, but hundreds of rhinos for the first time.

Heidi is supporting Yvonne’s upkeep in college and will be coming back to Kenya at the end of this year to visit her in Naivasha. Partnerships such as this one are what drive us to give guests opportunities that reach far beyond their safari experience.

Yvonne last year at the Conservation Scholar’s Camp

‘Being on the high school scholar’s programme has been one of the best moments in my lifetime. You [the Footprint foundation] have inspired me and words will not be enough to express my gratitude; I feel appreciated and loved.’ ~ Yvonne

We wish Yvonne the best of luck in the new chapter she has embarked upon. Without doubt, her community knowledge combined with her passion for conservation and the college learning she is undertaking will see her achieve her dreams and make her an unstoppable force along the way.

Yvonne and Ntemuni with Heidi and friend near Sasaab

Are you interested in giving a talented young student the chance to attend high school? Discover how to join our Conservation Scholarship Programme here.