Tanzania: Rafiki wa Faru


Programme managers

Tony and Lucy Fitzjohn (Programme Managers); Elisaria Nnko and Semu Pallyango (part-time EEO and EEA).


Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania, within the Tsavo ecosystem

Species / population size

Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary holds Eastern black rhino (D. b. michaeli). Please note that individual population sizes are confidential.


The Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary is a fenced area covering 45 sq km within the Mkomazi National Park. In the 1970s, well over 400 black rhino were recorded in the Mkomazi Game Reserve. By the late 1980s, the wipe-out of East Africa’s wildlife populations was emerging from its very lowest and almost critical ebb and there were no rhinos remaining in Mkomazi. In 1989, the Government of Tanzania invited the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust (GAWPT) to work with them on an infrastructural rehabilitation programme for Mkomazi Game Reserve (MGR), now Mkomazi National Park (MNP) including restoration of habitat, re-introduction and breeding programmes for the highly endangered Eastern black rhinoceros and African wild dog (Lycaon Pictus) and community outreach programmes. The Mkomazi Project was awarded National Priority Project status. In 2008, the Government upgraded it to a National Park, demonstrating its commitment to strengthening Mkomazi’s protected status.

Primary activity

The Rafiki wa Faru bus has proved outstandingly popular, drawing a crowd every time it leaves Mkomazi National Park's gates to pick up a class of schoolchildrenCredit: GAWPT

Environmental education. Rafiki wa Faru (“Friend of the rhino”) comprises a part-time EE Officer (Elisaria Nnko), a part-time EE Assistant (Semu Pallangyo), a specially adapted bus and driver, bringing classes of children from the 14 secondary schools nearest to the Park, into Mkomazi National Park and Rhino Sanctuary for a carefully structured day. The schedule includes a participatory session in the newly constructed Education Centre overlooking the Rhino Sanctuary. We identified the year group that would most benefit from Rafiki wa Faru.




Elisaria and Semu have visited other education programmes in Kenya and Tanzania; however they are not education specialists and their primary roles are the management of the Rhino Sanctuary itself.


As above.


RwF directly employs three part-time people: the EEO, the EEA, and the bus driver. The programme reaches around 750 children and 60 teachers per year, with trips taking place once a week in the dry season, when the roads in the Park are driveable, and during school terms.

Monitoring and evaluation

Local children learning about wildlife as part of an environmental education programmeCredit: Save the Rhino International

Chester Zoo, which is mentoring and supporting the programme, is using a series of methods by which to monitor and evaluate the success of RwF: a drawing, on which students would mark positive and negative elements; students’ discussions; teachers’ discussions; questionnaires completed by teachers and the EEO immediately after each visit; and anecdotal evidence, which is also collected and recorded.

History of SRI’s involvement

With strategic assistance from Chester Zoo and lessons learned from the Laikipia Wildlife Forum’s Environmental Education and Literacy Programme, Rafiki wa Faru was conceived, developed and launched in June 2008. SRI has been involved from the start, giving grants from our core funds, and soliciting grants from Chester Zoo and USFWS.

Funding needs / budget etc

The cost for the year July 2012-June 2013 is 31,900 euros. This covers Elisaria’s and Semu’s and the bus drivers salaries, the running costs of the bus and teaching materials. The programme is fully funded up until the end of June 2013 – but it is unlikely that USFWS will be able to continue giving at the same level as it has done for the last four years. We would welcome other donors.

Other funders

Chester Zoo, USFWS

Programme sustainability

There are no income-generating opportunities for RwF, and it is highly likely, therefore, that it will always be reliant on donor funding.

Visiting Mkomazi

Inside Mkomazi National Park, visitors can stay at Babu’s Camp, which is about 30 minutes’ drive from the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary. There is no public access into the Sanctuary, which can be visited only by invitation by the Fitzjohns or TANAPA.