Wildlife conservation can be promoted through the school curriculum
DIFFERENT avenues ranging from community conservation meetings to monitoring, tracking and arresting poachers have been used in an effort to conserve wildlife, especially in communities neighboring wildlife protected areas.
Since most of these activities employed to conserve wildlife involve the “thinking of human beings”, it has been difficult to evaluate the best approaches as they are used in different scenarios and environments.
Due to increase in human population and demand for land for human settlements, Zimbabwe has some communities mainly from communal areas and few towns and villages like Dete, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Vumba which share borders with protected areas for wildlife.
Due to the need for various services such as education, health and other relevant services by these communities, through the efforts of the government and other concerned stakeholders, schools, clinics and other social amenities have been built in the areas.
It is good that efforts are made to ensure that children who attend school in these places have the same learning environment and the same opportunity to follow the same curriculum as their counterparts in the country.
Zimbabwe’s school curriculum promotes the preservation and conservation of culture and natural resources, supports health, improves the economy, and promotes science learners for technology and the advancement of the country.
Due to their geographical location, some schools can take advantage of, for example, surrounding farms, raw material processing industries or wildlife protected areas to reinforce concepts related to those sections that play a vital role in the economy. of the country or shed light on possible career paths for learners.
It is unfortunate that teaching and learning can be effective in schools, but children in some schools can be like “loaded bullets” in a gun waiting to be missed during the firing process.
Due to the different environments these learners come from, some come from families and communities that lack role models who can motivate them to learn and promote those sectors that boost the economy, for example wildlife which is linked to tourism.
The lack of guidance and understanding of the benefits of the environment from which these learners come has resulted in a lack of support from certain sectors of the economy that might exist in different communities in different parts of the country.
Wildlife-related sectors – safari or forestry – are some of the sectors considered to have social, economic and ecological benefits and need protection for those staying around wildlife protected areas.
The use of certain wild species as traditional medicine and certain animal names for social identification like Elephant – Ndlovu/Zhou, Eland – Mpofu/Mhofu and many others – are social benefits which also support related industries to tourism.
Ecological benefits have also been realized when we plant some of these native plants like Sickle Bush – Ugagu/Mumhangara and Monkey Bread – Ihabahaba/Mubabathe and others which are easily adaptable and improve soil fertility and are preferred by the most herbivorous animals because of their pleasant taste and nutritious pods, leaves or roots.
Regarding the effective protection of such an important sector of the country, the following questions will always remain unanswered: What is the best approach to conserve these natural resources by the communities?
Can’t a good education system that emphasizes wildlife studies that are part of the school curriculum yield better results when it comes to wildlife conservation in communities around wildlife protected areas? ?
I agree that career choice by learners from different communities knows no borders.
Career selection comes in many forms.
It can range from a country kid admiring what his parents do for a living to a pilot flying an airplane.
It is good that even town and city children have chosen careers related to wildlife studies in institutes of higher learning, for example forestry and ecology, and have been exposed and experienced to the environment of wildlife during their industrial attachment to wildlife-related research. and conservation organizations.
Education, well known to be a powerful weapon in solving some of the problems, can be used to promote wildlife conservation i.e. environment, wildlife research and conservation in communities .
It is good for children who attend schools around these communities to grasp the concepts that wildlife and other natural resources should be conserved for their benefit, and this will foster a sense of responsibility and a number of them are likely to choose careers related to their environment.
They will always emphasize protecting anything related to the “survival” of their wildlife-related jobs.
It will be like “biting your tail” if you do not protect a resource that promotes the sustainability of your career.
Negative effects may also spill over to families remaining in the communities surrounding these protected areas from which they originate, especially if they are the breadwinners.
An approach to wildlife conservation education that starts at the grassroots level with an emphasis on children learning about wildlife in schools around protected areas can yield great results because the target group will report on the importance of natural resources as they grow.
– Mahlabezulu Zulu is a conservationist who has worked for various wildlife research and conservation organizations in Hwange National Park and Fuller Forestry in Victoria Falls.
He can be contacted on 00263(0)713269827/0776196171.
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