Gifted student’s love for nature leads to a fulfilling career in environmental management
By Brenda Wambui
ReinhardBonkeNyandire (pictured) has a charming personality. He is down to earth and easy to talk to. He engages easily with people from different walks of life, approaching them with respect and humility. Nyandire is an environmentalist. In that regard, he is a strong supporter of the goals of the environmental movement. This is a non-political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities.
Nyandire pursued an environmental management degree at Kenyatta University and graduated in 2016. He has since worked with several non-governmental organizations which are engaged in areas like climatic change, environmental change, waste management, environmental policy, air pollution among others. Currently, he is working with Friends of Nairobi National Park as a programme administrator. He loves travelling during his leisure time. He runs a website called ‘The African Gypsy.’
He was inspired to establish the website by the need to address the challenge of the high pricing of natural tourist attraction sites in the country – even for local tourists.
This discourages many middle income earners from domestic tourism. He uses the website to showcase some of the places he has visited at affordable prices.
Nyandire’s passion for environmental conservation blossomed while he was in high school. A bright student, he scored an A plain grade in the Kenya Certificate Secondary Examination (KSCE) and although he had been enrolled for a degree course in pharmacy, he opted for environmental management, underscoring his passion in the field.
Currently, he is running a campaign to protect the Nairobi National park and its ecosystem from internal development. The campaign is dubbed: Save Nairobi National Park. It is being rolled out through public education that is geared towards raising public awareness about the need to protect the key national asset. “Although public education may use factual information to illustrate points and clarify meanings, the points and meanings themselves are the essence of the communication, not the facts,” elaborates Nyandire. “Facts should be presented only when they help the audience understand and appreciate the content of the message. Carefully selected facts can be supportive, illustrative and illuminating, but they are never ends in themselves,” he adds.
Raising environmental awareness involves translating the technical language of natural science or related field into terms and ideas that a non-scientist can readily understand. It also involves doing it in a way that is entertaining and interesting to the public.
Moreover, it entails translating the technical language of a natural science or related field into terms and ideas that a non-scientist can readily understand. According to Nyandire, this should be entertaining and interesting to the public.
The wildlife is a critical natural heritage. Nevertheless, the need to protect the wild animals has not yet been fully appreciated by most Kenyans. “Whereas many foreigners are aware about the ongoing campaign to protect the Nairobi National Park, many locals are not in the picture,” he laments.
Individuals championing for the rights of the wildlife (like Nyandire) are very few in a country like Kenya. More often than not, wild animals are viewed as man’s enemy and they are killed whenever they threaten his interest. Faced with such a stereotype, the work of environmentalists like Nyandire through interesting is not a walk in the park.