Conservationist James Lekadaa in the Samburu in Kenya

Chief Conversationalist of Conservation Conversation, Ceci

James, I’m Ceci, Chief Conversationalist of Conservation Conversation.

Thank you for having this conversation with me on conservation.

James, could you tell me where you and your family live in Africa?

Hello Ceci, nice to meet you and please say hello to the Pencils for Africa Team.

I have Skyped with your team many times over the past four years and have spoken often with your sister Charlotte. Say hello to Charlotte from our Samburu community. We live here in north of Kenya in eastern Africa. We are an ancient tribe that goes back thousands of years. We so cherish this wilderness land.

James, how are the elephants over in Samburu?

As a conservationist, I am concerned about elephants here, so I am glad we are having this conversation.

The region where my family and community live, has many herds of elephants and our tribe live in harmony with them. The men in our tribe volunteer as nightwatchman and wildlife rangers during the day, in order to guard over these beautiful elephant families which are vulnerable from poachers, who want to kill them for the ivory tusks. So the men in my tribe, like me, try to protect the elephants from harm.

The elephants also help us, because they are very good at divining for water during the drought season.

In the recent drought years, they found water in the muddy grasslands, and they drank the water they needed. Then, they left us the wells – I could have sworn I saw one of the elephants wink at me when he left us a well! When they leave us the wells, then we bring our shovels and dig them deeper than the elephants can, and that provides us water for our village. Elephants are our friends and neighbors!

James, can you tell us about your Samburu community?

Yes Ceci, we have strong community. We rely on each other. We share what we have with each other. 

There are many children your age Ceci, who attend school only part time because they also have to help with herding. We are a pastoral community, and we graze goats, sheep and cattle, and the young children your age learn to graze our domestic animals flocks. Domestic animals are our source of meat and milk.

Also, we have many artisan craft activities such as making beaded jewelry, and many of the girls and women in our community make beautiful bead works. We can sell the bead works to tourists.

When your teacher, Ms. Weitzman, visited us in the Samburu a few years ago, she told the Samburu women she loved the beading and spent time with the women bead workers in our community.

By the way Ceci, I have a question for you:

How is Ricky’s friend Moana the Tortoise? I heard she went for a walk? Did she return from her walk?

You know Ceci, we have gigantic tortoises here in Kenya — some of them can be over 200 years old!

Moana the Tortoise currently resides in Tiburon, California

Moana went for a walk but she was found and brought back to Ricky.

James, what do you like about PFA (Pencils for Africa) ?


I love PFA!!


I have been having conservation conversations with PFA students for years!

One time, when we were in the midst of a severe drought, I was so touched by how much concern and community spirit your PFA community showed for our Samburu community. You are true Global Citizens!

One of your PFA editors, Lucia, made a video on World Water Day about the drought in the Samburu.

And another one of your PFA editors, Charlie, made a video which is now on the website of the United Nations.  Charlie is also working on the Samburu App, which is a technology application that will help our Samburu tribe here in Kenya and also other tribes in Africa in the future to receive emergency water relief. 

I love PFA!!


Thank you James, for this conservation conversation!