Inspiring Children to Love Wildlife
Above: Students who visit the VFWT each Friday also visit the Wild Horizon Elephant Sanctuary and Orphanage where they meet orphaned elephants and have the opportunity to interact with these wildlife ambassadors, often seeing them in a positive light for the first time. Photo Credit (above & below) : Vus’ Moyo, VFWT
Dear Supporter ,
Do you remember the first time you were hooked by nature? Most of us have a memory of an early childhood experience that opened our eyes to the wonderful world of animals or the outdoors. Supporting one group of school children for a full day of fun and conservation education interaction may sound like a one-off gesture, but one day can, and often does, make a lifelong impression.
A little goes a long way when it comes to conservation education – $25 will help cover the costs for one student for a weekly wildlife interaction.
“We cannot protect what we don’t love, and we cannot love what we don’t know.”
Protecting what we love
Today’s children will be responsible for the long-term sustainability of wildlife populations and natural resources. But we cannot protect what we don’t love and we cannot love what we don’t know. One of our ongoing priorities at VFWT is to introduce children from the communities surrounding Victoria Falls to the beauty of wildlife and the benefits of conserving it – understandably not an easy ask in places where wildlife often causes major crop and livestock losses for them and their families.
But ultimately, despite the serious challenges they face by living alongside wildlife, we see that the children we interact with are incredibly curious and positive about wildlife as soon as they get the opportunity to see it in a different light. And we find that so inspiring!
Just listen to these young students below share their experience of their first visit to VFWT. With $500 we can support one group of school children for a full day of fun and conservation education.
Our conservation education work
At VFWT our conservation education work has two prongs. Firstly, as you see from above, we offer weekly interactive school visits to our facility. Each Friday, school children from schools in the Victoria Falls area meet our wildlife ambassador Judge the vulture, and sometimes other ambassadors (for example the young warthog below) drop by! The students are also treated to a visit to the Wild Horizons Elephant Orphanage, where they gain a close-up look at the elephants there, the animals championing a message of peaceful coexistence with their rural and urban neighbours.
Guardians of the future:
over 1000 school children visit the
Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust each year!
Above: After the interaction every child is given a “Vusa the Vulture Guardian” booklet which tells the story of a local rural villager and his problems with wildlife conflict, poaching and the spill-over effects of poisoning. The booklet also explores the benefits of wildlife to Vusa’s village and neighbors and includes the conflict hotline for our Human Wildlife Conflict project and team.
Secondly, we run eco-clubs in five rural schools near Victoria Falls. The amazing news is that these clubs are not only helping with conservation education, but they are also raising general education levels. Lesedi Primary school – one of the schools we work with, attained a 90.91% pass rate in 2022, up from 64% in 2021. The performance of learners was observed to be improving mostly in the areas of social science (63,3%) and agriculture (54,4%) – both areas which the eco-clubs focus on, providing evidence that the clubs have played a role in advancing knowledge and information retention
Above: Our Eco-Club project brings broad conservation education to children in the rural schools around Victoria Falls, supporting teachers with more supplies and eco-activities, and developing young conservation leaders who will become guardians of these areas in the future.
Education changes mindsets!
Both these initiatives are moving mountains when it comes to changing perceptions about wildlife in our communities. $1000 will cover the costs of a trunk and all of the
supplies for an Eco-Club for one year and technical support for the teacher. Please consider a gift to enable us to continue this program with confidence – so we can continue our work knowing that we won’t abandon the huge inroads that we’re already making, and, since we’re dreaming big, possibly expanding our reach so that we can reach even more school children!
Conservation Education Officer
If you would like a copy of our newly published 2021 Annual Impact Report, please
contact Tracey Butcher US Outreach and Development