Sometime ago Ingela, a friend who leads KopeLion research project asked if Shaw Safaris could teach their team some basic service techniques for there 4×4 vehicles. Of course, we wanted to help. After some thought it was clear that if we were going to do this, we should do it properly. ‘First time, every time’ (team Twiga’s and Shaw Safaris’ motto). So we decided that they should be taught how to identify and solve problems for themselves on their own vehicles. After all, they work in very remote areas where there are lots of lions! This involved teaching them about each and every component on the vehicle; the principles of a four-stroke diesel engine, clutch, brakes, cooling system, power steering, gearbox and differential and anything else we could think of.
So off to the Ngorongoro crater we went to start 3 days intensive training with Peter and Masha Shaw safaris mechanics and I (swapping my director of Shaw Safaris hat for my teacher’s cap). Peter and Masha stayed in accommodation supplied by the NCAA and I stayed on a veranda on the front of Ingela’s house. If I had of rolled out of bed I would not have stopped until I had hit the bottom of the crater, as this place is literally on the very edge, but hey, what a view every morning.
Obviously, we wanted to make the lessons fun and more importantly remembered. This involved students getting really stuck in, for example we had them pretend they were the pistons inside an engine. So for every stage of the four-stroke engine they had to either bob up or down and have their hands show if the valves were open or closed. Oh, and we also had them make the relevant noises (suck, squeeze, bang, blow.) As you can imagine this caused much laughter but our engine would have worked, it would of sounded strange, but it would of worked!
Day three began with some practical lessons, where the students had to fix and fully service the vehicles that we had deliberately tampered with. Then to finish off, the final exam. Shaw Safaris are so proud to tell you everyone got top marks and clearly understood all that they had been taught, as well as having fun doing it. We are now waiting for feedback… so far, no breakdowns.
To round off our stay time with the KopeLion team, they then showed us some of their work, which we all found fascinating. We were taught how they recognize and identify each and every lion from their whisker patterns which are as unique as finger prints. We were also shown how they track certain lions, this is all such important work to save our lions and learn more about them. Keep up the great work guys. It was a pleasure spending time with the KopeLion team we wish them all the best and look forward to seeing you in the bush with healthy great cars.
Find out more about KopeLion strive to foster human-lion coexistence in Ngorongoro Conservation Area.