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The AfriCat Foundation Environmental Education Programme 2016

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"There is no Relevant Education without Environmental Education." Fortunately more and more people are realizing the absolute necessity of Environmental Education and our programme is becoming better known and more sought after. Consequently we are reaching more young people and teachers which in essence is the main goal of the project.

 

Brief summary of the project for which the grant was allocated:
The AfriCat Environmental Education Programme includes, where possible, both AfriCat centers: AfriCat Head Quarters on Okonjima farm, Otjozondjupa Region (central Namibia) and AfriCat North, the field base along Etosha’s south-western boundary, Kunene Region (northwest Namibia). 2016 has been a year of even greater challenges for the AfriCat Foundation in its drive to conserve and protect Namibia’s carnivores, simultaneously encouraging and supporting farming communities living with carnivores: into the fourth year of a crippling drought, farmers have lost large numbers of their livestock and those still alive are emaciated, with little chance of survival; the carnivores, preying on the weak and slow, intensify the Human-Wildlife Conflict in most areas. Drought-relief programmes offer little respite with the AfriCat Livestock Protection Programmes being re-visited to accommodate dwindling, unattended herds. However, more so now than ever before, our Motto 'Conservation Through Education': sustainable, long-term conservation through motivation and commitment, should encourage the Namibian youth, teachers and farmers to re-visit avenues of arid-adapted land-use and even greater consideration of our wilderness.

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Brief Project Update
Achievements:
i) Thanks to the additional donation we received from TUSK this year, we have been able to provide staff accommodation at the Environmental Education Centre; this functional EE Cottage (3 bedrooms, lounge/dining, kitchen & bathroom, surrounded by a small garden, overlooking the Okonjima plains), is currently available to the visiting support staff, until such time as a second permanent educator can be sourced. Due to her recent debilitating health condition, Mrs. Helen Newmarch, the Head of Environmental Education, has taken a temporary leave of absence, hopefully returning to Okonjima January 2017.

ii) In order to provide continuity, we have engaged three dedicated educators from Namib High School, Swakopmund, who return to AfriCat on a regular basis, taking on the visiting school and college groups.

iii) Outreach initiatives were spurred on by activities around World Lion Day (10 August), involving a greater number of schools and students in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay (Erongo Region), Otjiwarongo (Otjozondjupa Region), and Kamanjab and Otjokovare (Kunene Region), bringing the message of declining predator numbers and the need for intensified conservation efforts to more than 2,000 students and their teachers.

iv) Two more groups visited the AfriCat North programme, where extended travel distance and the nature of the wilderness programme provided insight to harsh conditions and broader conservation strategies.

v) The new AfriCat Information Centre includes an African Savannah display as well as information on the various projects, offering a refreshing and informative visit to both students and tourists.

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vi) Debmarine Namdeb Foundation Donation:

 

Debmarine Namdeb Foundation Donation Handover

On Friday, the 11th November 2016, AfriCat was glad to welcome the Debmarine Namdeb Foundation Executive Manager, Ms. Janita von Wielligh, who on behalf of her respective foundation came to handover a donation of wanderer tents to the AfriCat Foundation.

Ms. Wielligh arrived at AfriCat headquarters just before 13h00, and the team was ready and excited to meet her, with everyone dressed neatly in AfriCat uniform and big excited smiles. The introduction went by smoothly as Ms Wielligh went around to meet all the team members, and gave us all a quick brief about what the Debmarine Namdeb Foundation is all about and how they operate.

We quickly all gathered around her car, to help off load the donation of wanderer tents that we so patiently waited for, since December 2014 when we first handed in our proposal for funding to Debmarine Namdeb - "Patience sure is a virtue"! In a few minutes all was setup and ready for Ms. Wielligh to do the official handover - we all came together behind the donated tents for some pictures.

After the handover, Ms. Donna Hanssen, the director of AfriCat HQ gave Ms. Wielligh a quick tour around the AfriCat Information Centre. Mrs. Tammy Hoth-Hanssen and Mrs. Jenny Noack were also there to give a brief summary about the Leopard Density Study and the AfriCat North Lion Project. Ms. Wielligh, was also taken on a short tour into our AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre enclosures, were she had the opportunity to meet some of our cheetah ambassadors, who are all in line to be rehabilitated into the Okonjima Nature Reserve, when space opens up. Fascinated by the sights, she sure had so many questions and our volunteer Mr Jonathan Carl, Carnivore Care Taker Mr John Mulyata, and AfriCat Administrator Selma Amadhila, were with her to answer all her questions.

It was finally time for lunch and more chatting, an opportunity to get to know each other better. Before we could bid farewell to Ms. Wielligh we had to show her the famous AfriCat Environmental Education Centre, which is the site where the donated tents will be used.

Team AfriCat would like to extend our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the Debmarine Namdeb Foundation for considering our proposal for funding and finally deciding to donate to us x6 wanderer tents for the AfriCat Environment Education Centre.

"In the end, we conserve only what we love.
We love only what we understand.
We will understand only what we are taught"
Baba Dioum (Senegalese environmentalist)

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Table 1: Participating Groups: 2016 to November 2016

DATE SCHOOL NUMBER REGION
15 Jan - 17 Jan 2016 Tsaraxa Aibes Secondary School 16/2 Otjozondjupa
4 Feb - 7 Feb 2016 Namib High Conservation Club 16/2 Otjozondjupa
19 Feb - 21 Feb 2016 Mondesa Youth Opportunities 20/3 Erongo
1 Mar - 4 Mar 2016 Windhoek International School 17/2 Erongo
7 Mar - 10 Mar 2016 Windhoek International School 18/2 Khomas
14 Mar - 18 Mar 2016 Windhoek International School 16/2 Khomas
29 Mar - 1 Apr 2016 Walvis Bay International School 22/2 Khomas
22 Apr - 26 Apr 2016  Walvis Bay International School 15/3 Erongo
9 Jun - 12 Jun 2016 Namib High Conservation Club 16/2 Erongo
20 Jun - 24 Jun 2016 Perivoli Teachers 0/25 Erongo
28 Jun 2016  Edugate 20/2 Otjozondjupa
8 Jul - 10 Jul 2016  Mondesa Youth Opportunities 20/3 Erongo
15 Jul - 18 Jul 2016  Windhoek Scouts 20 Khomas
21 Jul - 24 Jul 2016 Perivoli Okonjima Country School (AfNorth) 20/2 Otjozondjupa
5 Sept - 9 Sept 2016 Walvis Bay International School 20/2 Khomas
5 Sept - 10 Sept 2016  Walvis Bay International School (AfNorth) 20/2 Erongo
16 Sept - 19 Sept 2016 NAMCOL Students 20/2 Otjozondjupa
17 Oct - 19 Oct 2016 Dartmouth College 14/7 UK
27 Oct - 31 Oct 2016 Swakopmund Primary School 20/2 Erongo
11 Nov - 13 Nov 2016 Educate Academy 13/2 Otjozondjupa
    Total: 323/69
Grand Total: 392
 

Table 2: Outreach:

DATE SCHOOL NUMBER REGION
14 June 2016 Tsaraxa Aibes Secondary School 120 Otjozondjupa
14 June 2016 Paresis Environmental Club* 50 Otjozondjupa
27 June 2016  Private School Swakopmund 350 Erongo
1, 5, 12 June 2016  School of Excellence 400 Erongo
4 July 2016  The Dolphin School 200 Erongo
4 July 2016  Namib High School 700 Erongo
5 July 2016  Swakopmund Secondary School 500 Erongo
6 July 2016  Walvis Bay International School 100 Erongo
6 July 2016  Swakopmund Primary School 200 Erongo
6 July 2016  Coastal High School 600 Erongo
6 July 2016  Pro-Ed Academy 250 Erongo
    Total: 2,570  

The increased number on this table was partly due to contributions by Aino-Maaria Rautenbach, the AfriCat PR/Fund Raiser.

 

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More schools were included in our Outreach efforts and with the arrival of the DSJW volunteer, Jonathan Carl, who replaced Marvin Dzikowski, in mid-August 2016, plans have been tabled to encourage greater participation in the AfriCat Environmental Education Programme.

 

In addition to the regular programme, the AfriCat Team has collaborated with the Perivoli Okonjima Country School to encourage input from a wide range of schools throughout Namibia, concerning the ever-increasing Human-Wildlife Conflict on Namibia’s farmland; these schools were visited as part of the Outreach Programme, where students were encouraged to write letters of concern to Namibia’s President, H.E. Hage Geingob, to be handed to him on World Lion Day, 10 August 2016. Unfortunately, we have been unsuccessful in arranging a meeting with the President, due to his busy official Calendar.

 

 

 

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a) Challenges
i) Staff:
Due to the fact that Namibia has a small complement of Environmental Educators or teachers prepared to live in the bush, the search for a suitable second Environmental Educator is still in progress, hampered by restrictive work visa pre-requisites, as well as a shortage of interested parties prepared to commit to a longer term sojourn in the rural areas where AfriCat operates.

Fortunately, our DSJW volunteer, Marvin Dzikowski, has proven to have been very capable, energetic, and passionate about the programme; he joined us in August 2015 and has been able to run the programmes together with Donna Hanssen, Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, and visiting support staff from the Namib High Conservation Club; we look forward to Marvin’s replacement, Jonathan Carl, being equally competent and passionate. Ruth Makoyo and Johannes Mulyata will be replacing Daniel and Katrina who have been with us for 4 years and who will sadly be leaving AfriCat’s EE prgm in December. Ruth will be employed as the 'camp-cook' and 'camp-assistant' and Johannes will become the camp manager and tracker.

 

ii) Transport:
Due to the fact that our EE groups range between 20-40 students/teachers at one time, we are still dependent on Okonjima Lodge for most of our transport requirements; the 'Pupkewitz' – donated, single-cab pick-up is a great help, but suitable only for staff and Outreach travel.

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b) Future plans:
i) Marketing: Increased Outreach (i.e. visits and presentations to rural and urban schools) is necessary to establish AfriCat EE’s public face and naturally encourage greater contribution and participation in Namibia’s conservation efforts;
ii) More contact with our Ministry of Education, to allow and hopefully fund more government schools to participate in our programme;
iii) Increase our staff complement: A concerted effort to source a second educator as well as maintain good relations with the DSJW Volunteer programme;
iv) Improved communications with participating schools, to encourage more efficient planning regarding the most suitable length of stay;
v) Further development of EE Centre: extensions to the existing EE Centre, include more student and staff accommodation as well as kitchen/dining and activity areas.

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The AfriCat environmental Education Programme offers a unique Environmental Education experience to the Namibian Education system and therefore we are able to make a positive contribution towards the long-term and sustainable development of Namibia’s youth.

 

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