Wild and wonderful Kenya

Wild and wonderful Kenya

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Pang Chun-chiu
The Black Rhino. Photo: Pang Chun-chiu

By Pang Chun-chui

Wildlife in Africa is among the most spectacular sights on earth. The animals should be familiar to you if you like watching nature documentaries.

Not many of us can visit Africa to see the wildlife in person because it is simply too far away.

I could never imagine how the locals and those big animals live together in harmony.

Fortunately, as a postgraduate student studying ecology and biodiversity at the University of Hong Kong, I finally had the opportunity to visit Kenya and make my dream come true.

As I was an instructor during the field trip, I had extra responsibilities. Helping people to identify mammals, birds and other animals was a new experience and great fun.

I also showed the participants how sustainable ecotourism could be achieved in Kenya and how to strike a balance between conservation and development.

Achieving sustainable ecotourism requires good planning, management and a good understanding of the environment. The aim is not just to make money but to benefit local people and raise public awareness about biodiversity conservation.

We could tell from talking to Kenyans that they know how important their environment is and that they love nature.

We visited seven nature reserves in Kenya and explored habitats such as savannahs, lakes and forests. I was fortunate to see two black rhino - a mother and her calf - feeding on shrubs and wandering in a huge savannah at the Masai Mara Game Reserve.

There are only about 2,000 wild black rhino left in Africa. I was so excited but at the same time worried about these two as poaching is still a serious problem in Africa.

Hong Kong is also a wonderful place for exploring nature. It has rich habitats and species diversity, especially birds, butterflies, dragonflies, amphibians and reptiles. And we have substantial land (40 per cent) designated as protected areas.

You can get to all these areas within a couple of hours from the city. Seeing a camouflaged spider hunting or the courtship behaviour of a pair of doves should stimulate your interest to know more about nature.

Observing and having a better understanding are the first steps to treasuring and conserving what we have here.

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