|Zero. That is the number of Grade 4 students from Tfolinhlanhla Primary School in Mpumalanga who have visited the Kruger National Park – one of the world’s most-loved natural wildlife areas located just 30kms from the school. We were astounded.
As Byron Ross, conservation academy coordinator at GWF, has asked before: “How can we expect new generations of young people to care for wildlife and anti-poaching efforts if they have no connection to nature and no understanding of the importance of conservation?”
And so we made a plan. As part of the mission of GWF’s new bizhub Conservation Academy, powered by Konica Minolta South Africa, 40 students from Tfolinhlanha Primary experienced Kruger for the first time this month.
This signified an important milestone of collaboration between GWF,
Konica Minolta South Africa and SANParks, who all share a vision to grow a wider participation in the economy of wildlife, with renewed efforts to engage communities who live adjacent to wildlife areas.
The bizhub Conservation Academy, together with the help of Oriel Mhlongo, the “Kids in Parks” facilitator at Kruger, has committed to rolling this programme out to all of the children who attend the GWF Open Learning Academy – this includes over 500 children from seven schools in Mpumalanga and two OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Children) programmes.
“We have been delivering conservation education on our digital whiteboards and tablet computers for almost half a year now, specifically for Grade 4 learners” said Byron. “To be able to extend the learning into one of the world’s greatest nature reserves, which happens to be on our doorstep, is incredible. They’ve all seen the buffalo on their ‘Big 5’ app, now they got to see it in real life. I have no doubt that we have 40 new nature-lovers on our hands.”