For many people living in rural Africa, wildlife is not viewed in a positive light. Most rural villagers only ever see elephant when the elephant are crop raiding their garderns, or carnivores when they are killing livestock. Human wildilfe conflict is part of life for many rural villagers. VFWT hosts a weekly conservation education program in which we bring children from some of these rural areas to interact with wildlife ambassadors. Ultimately these children will be responsible for the long-term sustainability of wildlife populations and natural resources. By working with children from a young age we aim to change people's negative perceptions of wildlife. This project hosts a weekly group of approximately twenty school children who interact with VFWT wildlife ambassadors such as "Sylvester" the cheetah and discuss the challenges with human wildlife conflict, poaching and poisoning.
A key part of this year's program focuses on the problems of poisoning wildlife and the spillover effects into other species such as vultures who are experiencing major declines in their populations. VFWT transports each school group to its facilities for the weekly activity. After the interaction and discussion every child has a hot lunch and is given a "Vusa the Vulture Guardian" booklet to take home. The booklet is a narrative of a local rural villager and his problems with wildlife conflict, poaching and poisoning and the benefits of wildlife to his village and neighbors. Inside each booklet is the conflict hotline for our Human Wildife Conflict project and team.
During the discussion on wildlife a vital part of the conversation touches on tourism and the importance wildlife plays in bringing tourists, and therefore jobs to the local area. As Victoria Falls town is highly dependent on international tourism, the concept of how much all of the jobs in the area rely on tourism that revolves around wildlife and the local natural resources is highlighted and the need to conserve these resources so there are jobs for the children as they get older.
A very big thank you to the Mzuri Wildlife Foundation for funding this year's conservation education program including the development and printing of a new booklet.
For more information on this program please E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org