David Schoeman, principal of Generaal Jacques Pienaar Primary, Daniel Mampana of the Department of Basic Education, and Hencke Marais of Tshwane Nature Conservation.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) recently launched its new initiative, Conservation Kids, at Generaal Jacques Pienaar Primary in Pretoria. The launch coincided with World Environmental Education Day on 26 January. The Conservation Kids initiative is the brainchild of Jacky Masibi, a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to wildlife conservation and education.

Masibi has published an educational book covering numerous wildlife species, reptiles and birds – all with the names of each in three different languages. Her passion is evident in that she was the photographer, author and publisher of the entire process.

The wildlife economy

On the day of the launch, Richard York, CEO of WRSA, welcomed the Grade 7 learners of Generaal Jacques Pienaar Primary and introduced them to the concept of the wildlife economy. He explained the contribution the wildlife industry makes to the South African (SA) economy through the breeding and selling of animals, as well as wildlife activities such as ecotourism, and wildlife products such as game meat.

Blood spoor and anti-poaching dogs have an important role to play in the apprehension of poachers.

York explained to the learners how far wildlife conservation has come in SA. During the 19th century, SA wildlife was decimated because there was little to no regulation and people did not understand the impact of their actions on the environment.

Luckily, things have changed in the 21st century and there is more wildlife now than a century ago. Most of SA’s oribi, black wildebeest, roan antelope, bontebok, sable and white rhino are now found on privately owned farmland. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of WRSA and its members. York emphasised the contribution each person, including the youth, can make by getting involved in wildlife conservation.

Learning about conservation

K9 Tracking, which trains anti-poaching and home protection dogs, brought along three dogs to do a demonstration. The children learned more about the role blood spoor tracking dogs play in wildlife conservation, and saw how home protection dogs can be trained to protect their owners in various situations.

Kai Lutman and Johannes Moremi from K9 Tracking with trained blood spoor tracking dogs.

Hencke Marais from Tshwane Nature Conservation conducted a snake handling demonstration. He brought along a brown house snake, rinkhals, puff adder and African rock python to teach the learners about the role of snakes in the ecosystem and what to do if they encounter one of these reptiles.

The launch of Conservation Kids was a great success and has received much attention from the Department of Basic Education and the wider conservation community. WRSA said it is privileged to support this remarkable initiative, and ensure that the organisation makes a difference in educating the youth. – Renate Louw, AgriOrbit