Community is really important and we try to get as involved as we can to support the local people in different ways. This is not only a rewarding act of charity, but a way of finding out how the local people feel about the environment that surrounds them, and gives us further insight into conflict between humans and wildlife first hand, from those who have lived here their whole lives. It also allows us to develop a relationship with the community and forge important social and working relationships.
We have recently started working with a couple of schools in Alldays: Briershof and Alldays Primary in an effort to involve ourselves with the community and aside from the aforementioned reasons, we also have a secondary motive in teaching the children about the work that we do here and why conservation is so important, specifically encouraging these young people to think about resolving human and animal conflict with non-fatal methods.
At Alldays Primary we have started supporting a school in their WESSA eco schools award. They have already quite an established system of reducing waste and recycling and had started growing a garden of vegetables to learn about a healthy lifestyle as well as to help their local community.
Unfortunately their garden tunnel had apparently suffered a bit of a baboon makeover and had fallen into disuse. We visited them to assess the damage and worked with the children to clean up the garden and rebuild their protective tunnel in an effort to bring their garden back to life.
We have also set up a camera trap to see how the baboons were getting in and whether there was anything else contributing to the damage. Hopefully we can baboon proof this little garden and help them to get their platinum award!
At Briershof we have started visiting the school every week to play sports with the children.
We have started teaching them some hockey and football skills, but are mostly ensuring that we are getting them running around and keeping them active. We are also hoping to start working with the children to teach them about the work that we do with primates and predators. We want to get them thinking about the environment around them and how we can protect it. Fingers crossed we can make sure they become keen conservationists in the future!
One of the teachers in our team also helped out in the classroom at Briershof, helping to teach some lessons to the younger classes. She also talked with the teachers about the South African education system both parties shared practice and traded tips. As a language specialist, she was also able to share some english resources in an effort to help improve the children’s reading and comprehension skills.
It’s early days in our education endeavours, but working with the children has already been incredibly rewarding. We went with the intention of teaching the children, but have learnt quite a few new things from them too!
We will keep you updated on our progress…