The Selinda Reserve has just hosted 20 children from Seronga and Gunotsoga primary schools, which are situated in the rural north of the Okavango for Kid’s Conservation Camp 2018.
This Conservation Camp is an annual gift to the children who have been excelling in their respective Eco-clubs and they join us for five days of conservation awareness, wildlife education and an enormous amount of fun.
Can you remember the first lion you saw – or your first painted dogs? Do you know elephants but only from a distance when you see them passing through villages in the gloomy dusk? Do you know the frustration of losing a cultivated field to them or a prized cow to a predator?
These children know.
It becomes more evident and more important by the day that conservation of wildlife cannot be done effectively where local communities are excluded. People are a big part of these landscapes and people need to be a part of the conservation efforts on the ground and see value in the wildlife that they live with and the ecosystem services provided.
Great Plains Foundation has been hosting conservation camps for local children for a number of years and the difference that it creates is quite remarkable. The children gain not only knowledge and awareness, but learn the value of teamwork, make new friends and gain confidence in their abilities and their independence.
They arrived to small gifts placed on their beds. Toiletries and stationery (largely donated through Pack for a Purpose) will last them for ages and a reusable Great Plains Conservation water bottle will eliminate any need for additional plastic bottles.
They were given a new shirt and cap that they can wear with pride at the Kid’s Camp and back in their villages as a mark of the work that they have done. For many, these will be the first brand new clothes that they have ever been given and we can see the appreciation for all these goodies.
Camp leaders Gobo and Kane are brilliant at making the children feel immediately at home as they play numerous games and sing happy songs. Soon they are all out on the game vehicles, getting a close look at the animals with which they share this ecosystem.Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve
Days become a blur of adventure and learning. Pro, a field researcher from Claws Conservancy taught them the importance of lions in the environment, the roles that we all can play in keeping them separate to our livestock – as well as telemetry and how to track lions. With tools like these, there are definite solutions to conflict with these big cats.Telemetry at Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve
Creativity is something that isn’t always given an outlet, but here the children had an entire kitchen to decorate with their favourite animals. Visiting artist Rabea, got them to paint the most wonderful images of animals and it was clear that this was one of their favourite activities. Even those who doubted themselves and their abilities at first, surprised themselves with their glorious creative visions.Art at Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve
They learnt the intricacies of the Okavango Delta and the roles that the animals play in shaping it – particularly those keystone species: elephants, hippos and termites. Recreating the Okavango Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve
They visited Zarafa camp to see the beautiful handiwork and the many different roles required to run such a high-end safari lodge. The chefs took them for a tour of the kitchens and the staff enjoyed the lively visit just as much as the children did. Kitchen visit Kids Conservation Camp Selinda ReserveThey ended off with a highly exciting ride out onto the Zibadianja Lagoon on the luxury pontoon to see hippos, floating islands and the channels of the four main rivers that meet here. For most, this was their first time out on the water and from the sheer joy on their faces, it is evident that this is an experience that will stay with them forever.Pontoon trip Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve
The end of the last day brought us to the Silly Olympics – an evening full of fun games and races, like egg-and-spoon and the three-legged race. The thunderstorms that had been with us moved away, and for hours there was nothing but laughter, teamwork and great fun.Silly Olympics Kids Conservation Camp Selinda Reserve But all good things must come to an end. They gave it their all throughout, and finally it was time for them to head back home, exhausted – but happy and fired up to share their newfound knowledge with their family and friends.
As these children headed back home, 20 more children from Gudigwa were brimming with excitement as the next day it was to be their turn for Kid’s Conservation Camp and they will be brought singing and dancing into Selinda for the most sought-after school trip of the year.