Eco-clubs programme creates positive impact

Eco-clubs programme creates positive impact

Kim Emmanuel recently reported for Tourism Update about the success of the “Children in the Wilderness” programme, run by Wilderness Safaris.

This programme is being conducted in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and has already resulted in less littering in communities and improved academic success for the youth.

Wilderness Safaris, together with Boundless Southern Africa, a division of the Department of Environmental Affairs, hosted the second annual “Children in the Wilderness” (CITW) Tri-Nations Camp last year at Mapungubwe National Park.

Eco-Club co-ordinators said they had seen an improvement in the children’s behaviour since the commencement of the Eco-clubs.

Dimpho Mangogola, a co-ordinator from Botswana, said that previously children would litter in the schools but now those who formed part of the Eco-Club advised the entire school on the benefits of not littering.

Similarly, Busie Ndlovu, a co-ordinator from Zimbabwe, said she had noticed how children were even teaching adults the lessons they had learned in the sessions. Ndlovu suggested starting a similar programme for the adults in the communities, where they would also be able to learn about the benefits of tourism.

Five children between the ages of 10 and 15 from each of the three participating countries were selected to attend the camp based on their enthusiasm for the CITW Eco-Club sessions that they regularly attend in their home villages during the year.

“I had fun with people from different countries,” said 15-year-old Jonathan from Botswana. “I would like to learn more about life with the wildlife. I would like to make a difference by changing mind-sets. It will be my theme for next year so I will include every lesson I learned here in my “Big Adventure 2017 Action Plan.”

Mangogola added that Eco-Clubs also had a positive impact on the children’s academic results. She said the lessons taught at school were sometimes repeated in the Eco-Club, which helped the children remember better. They also develop geography skills among the kids, teaching them how to locate areas of interest on a map.