Any warrior is also a scholar, a poet, and an artist-Steven Seagal.
This is a story of one such warrior known as Ambrose Letolai. Ambrose is a young Samburu warrior and wildlife activist who has been at the forefront of the Wildlife Conservation efforts and initiatives in Laikipia, Kenya.
A true wildlife activist with a passion for his people as he equally champions positive change, development, and well-being for the pastoralist’s communities. The first Samburu Wildlife Photographer’ who dedicated his art to creating awareness about wildlife conservation and promoting impact. A true scholar, a leopard researcher with San Diego Zoo, the key figure in the discovery of the famous black leopard, a big cat with a rare genetic mutation known as Melanism, spotted in Loisaba Conservancy by a local, who later informed him and he, in turn, spearheaded this research.
Ambrose’s back story is not uncommon to the African child from a community that has limited resources and less exposure to national resources that are meant to catapult them into achieving their dreams (Energy, Healthcare, Food Security, Quality Education, etc.).
However, what’s unique about his story is the fact that he is one of the few African children who are luckily able to gain access to aid from conservation efforts and are able to make a life for themselves and in turn, go back to their communities as leaders of change. Having grown up in Laikipia East, a rural off-grid location, in Kenya, Ambrose, completed his primary school education and proceeded with his high school education with the help of his uncle who later fell ill while Ambrose was in his third year of high school.
His uncle could no longer afford to balance between paying his two daughters’ school fees, his medical bills and still paying for Ambrose’s school fees. Ambrose did not let the lack of funds stop him, he devised a plan to sneak into school, just to attend his classes, only until the school principal caught up with him and asked the security guards to escort him out of the school compound causing him to miss school for missing out on two terms (a term was then equivalent to four months).
Ambrose and his mother were later able to raise money through bursaries and handouts from politicians to meet the school’s financial requirements. Unfortunately, this was not sustainable, Ambrose completed his high school education deep in arrears and with a grade that was much lower than his expectations. He contemplated going back to school. The big question was, who would fund his school fees?
Ambrose decided to write a letter that would forever change his life, a letter he wrote to Lori Dayoneer, a philanthropist based in Laikipia County who in turn introduced him to William Byron, and through the Loisaba Community
Conservation Foundation (LCCF) scholarship, he was able to repeat his third year of high school. This time, he did it right, he passed and proceeded with his college education where he chose to pursue a course in Wildlife Management. Ambrose escaped the harsh realities of being an African child in the rural, off-grid locations in Kenya, where most live on approximately less than a dollar a day, thanks to conservationist efforts by the Loisaba Community Conservation Foundation, who not only cared for the well-being of wildlife but communities that surrounded and co-existed with them. He has since dedicated his life to contributing towards Wildlife conservation efforts as a conservation researcher, activist, and photographer.
The young warrior, through his art, educates the youths on wildlife conservation. He acquires educational materials through his interactions with other wildlife photographers, activists, and filmmakers as a National Geographic Explorer. Ambrose has taken initiative to open up his photography studio with the rest of the community by converting it into a wildlife conservation resource center, where The Wildlife Kids, a club that he created for the young conservationists of the Naibunga community
, meet, to learn about conservation among other skills.
In an effort to improve on the community’s welfare, Ambrose has also formed a group named Chui Mamas where he carries out women empowerment initiatives by creating awareness about wildlife and conservation efforts that have reduced human-wildlife conflict and assisted the women in creating a market for revenue sources such as beadwork while providing a path to new and alternative revenue-generating activities.
A true warrior indeed.