Read how we are inspiring local communities to reconnect with the land and its iconic wildlife… by Claire Trickett29th September 2016
The late Nelson Mandela said it best … “Ultimately conservation is about people. If you don’t have sustainable development around wildlife parks – then the people will have no interest in them and the parks will not survive.”
We couldn’t agree more, therefore our teams continue to work closely with Africa Foundation, our social development partner, to engage with and empower the local communities that neighbour our reserves.
Encouraging and inspiring these communities to reconnect, not only with the land, but also with its iconic wildlife, is one of the best ways to ensure the ongoing conservation and preservation of these wildlife areas for future generations to enjoy.
Tomorrow’s natural resources will stand a slightly better chance of survival if today’s children are educated on how to conserve Africa’s precious landscapes and wildlife. For almost a decade, we have been hosting local school children and their teachers on insightful Conservation Lessons, all thanks to the ongoing sale of our Care bracelets and journals, which are readily available at all of our Safari Shops.
Proceeds from the sale of these stylish journals and bracelets go towards the cost of sending a child from one of the neighbouring communities to experience an exciting and educational full-day Conservation Lesson with expert guides at one of our reserves. To date, more than 7,000 children and 500 teachers have participated and benefited from this much-needed programme.
The goal is to instil joy, respect and understanding in the children for the natural resources that surround them. Despite living in such close proximity to conservation areas, many local children have never had the chance to actually experience what attracts guests to our reserves. These environmental awareness lessons give the children the opportunity to experience the natural heritage of their country first hand, which helps to bring about positive change in attitudes, increased responsibility and awareness of the value of conservation and tourism.
The lessons are conducted by professional &Beyond-trained rangers and trackers who bring the magic of the wilderness alive. On arrival at the lodge, the children enjoy a healthy meal, followed by interesting talks and quizzes before embarking on an interpretive game drive (or snorkel if they are at one of our three island properties). Specially designed Conservation Lesson workbooks are distributed to the children and many other activities centred on conservation issues are arranged.
According to Francois Peenz, Africa Foundation CEO, “Seeing the delight on the faces of children, many of whom have just met their animal neighbours for the first time reinforces the benefits of including local communities in Africa’s conservation process. Our Conservation Lessons programme is living proof that, through inclusion, our children will become the custodians of these protected areas.”
Today’s children are tomorrow’s guardians of Africa’s wilderness.