Meritho Katei

Hi my name is Meritho and I’m a Masaai. I come from Arusha and am the first born from my dad’s second wife – he has 6 wives. I was born in 1992 and at that time it wasn’t easy for a Masaai kids to go to school because they were expected to grow and work with the livestock. For this reason I only started primary school when I was 12 years old because my dad didn’t believe in education. When I started I wasn’t the same age as the other Swahili kids in my class but I quickly caught up and so much liked to be educated.

Before I went to school, from when I was four years old, I started herding the animals – first with baby goats, then small livestock – goats and sheep, then onto cattle calves and when I was 9 years old I starting herding my dad’s big livestock – going out into the bush every day with them – there were 1 200. When I was defending livestock I met up with lions quite a few times, in the bush and in the boma. And because my dad had taught me how to defend the cattle, I helped them twice, but one day when I was alone I didn’t defend and the lion killed two cattle and ate one finished. I ran home! I was only 9 nine years old.

When I was 7 years old I met with up with a group of wild dogs – there were a lot – more than 40 animals, when I was herding the small livestock – goats and sheep. So, because wild dogs are afraid of human beings I defended them and the wild dogs ran away.’

My mom was praying for me to become someone in this world and I joined secondary school on 2009 and I completed form four on 2012. When I was in Standard Three (15 years old) I told my mom that I wanted to study wildlife After that I joined Iringa Tourism college on 2013 up to 2015.

When I was at college I heard a lot about RCP and what they are doing and started chatting to RCP staff members, because I was looking for a place to do my field experience. My principal wrote me a letter to join RCP for field experience and I came to RCP in 2014 for a 2–week period which was a really big opportunity to have this. I was the first to do field experience in my level of college. During my field experience I got really excited and hoped that it could be my future, as it reflects what I’d like to be – to work on wildlife – which is exactly what my future was’.

I told Amy that I want to work at RCP so while I waited for a position to be available I worked in Zanzibar and Dar. When the position of junior research assistance became available I got the job.

I started working on all the elements of RCP and RCP assisted me to be in 3 programmes – DVD night, CCT, monthly monitoring and depredation follow ups and carnivore monitoring.

(Big smile) ‘I’m still so very happy to have got the opportunity to work in RCP – I got a lot of experience on different things. I liked so much the experience I got in RCP because I like to work in conservation and wildlife.’