We are borrowing nature from the youth. We must empower them to take care of the environment so that they can have a green legacy to leave behind. To take proper care of something, one needs to understand it. Therefore, it is crucial that we engage with the youth and involve them in activities in nature, teach them to understand the natural world they depend on, and become stewards protecting it into the future.
Children that are members of SA Hunters can record wildlife sightings for the species listed on the SA Hunters App. When they observe species such as pangolin, owls, sungazers, or any of the listed species, they capture the sighting directly on their phones. The data contributes to conservation initiatives for those species, and it contributes to the branch activities for conservation.
The purpose of Projek Grootoog is to provide nesting sites for owls where necessary, to map and register natural and artificial breeding sites, and to monitor breeding success to determine which artificial nesting sites contribute to owl survival. Youngsters can participate in this project under the guidance of the project coordinators.
Children from various schools are introduced to wildlife information at schools or are taken on excursions to visit specific sites to engage with wildlife as part of their schools’ educational curriculum. The Namakwa Branch launched a programme that takes children of different ages from schools in its region to Goegap Nature Reserve where they are taught about the unique wildlife of the Namakwaland area, and the negative impacts of poaching on the plants and animals of this unique region.
Several of the branches arrange youth camps for youngsters where they learn about conservation. Eland, Impala and Springbok branches worked together on this initiative where 36 youngsters were taken on a weekend fieldtrip to get close up and personal with wildlife. They learned about owl conservation, erected owl boxes, and released a rehabilitated owl as part of the Projek Grootoog initiative.
Our conservation manager engages with students in the fields of conservation or wildlife management through research initiatives and conservation talks. Some of the educational facilities include the Lapalala Wilderness School, Tshwane University of Technology, the Southern African Wildlife College, the Zoological Department of University of Pretoria, and Capricorn Campus.
The Water for Life project was initiated to raise awareness about the condition of our freshwater rivers and the sources of pollution. Groups of youngsters visited freshwater sites and assessed the health of the river by looking at the invertebrates that they could find. This is a wonderful project to involve the youth on an environmental issue that affects our planet. In the Water-for-Life project the youngsters can:
Tuinroete and Overberg branches have found that students and primary school children thoroughly enjoy the activity, which fortunately, fitted in well with school curricula.
The Kameeldoring Branch’s Junior Rhino Ranger initiative introduces youngsters to the rhinoceros, its biology and conservation, and teaches them to identify and monitor rhinos as part of a conservation awareness programme. One cannot expect people to care for species they have not seen and know nothing about. After a thorough introduction to the rhino, the children are able to gather and record information about individual rhinos that they come across, and report these sightings to the reserve manager.
The importance of bees in the environment cannot be emphasised enough. The Sweet Success initiative involves children that are interested in becoming beekeepers under the supervision of experienced apiculturists. The Pretoria East Branch donated beehives to interested individuals that were trained by the Northern Beekeeping Association to look after and manage the hives and harvest the honey. A percentage of the income from the honey produced, goes back into the branch’s conservation fund.