A huge part of conservation work is education and without the support of local communities, all our hard work is done in vain. In line with this, our volunteers have been undertaking environmental education initiatives at the local primary school in Langebaan. We hope to educate the younger generation on the amazing and unique flora and fauna in their area and what they can do to protect it.
Today’s theme was “local birds” as the coastline here has an abundant and diverse population of both common and endangered species. When volunteers teach these classes, it’s vital to keep the lessons fun and memorable so we started our lesson by making binoculars out of card. We also had a real pair so that learners could experience using them.
We then went “bird watching” around the school. We had stuck up pictures of birds around the school, however, there were so many actual birds around that they had much more fun spotting them through their hand made binoculars. After some bird-watching, we integrated some knowledge of each species into the lesson so they would know about the bird they were seeing first hand.
While it is important that the learners know the birds, our aim is conservation therefore we touched on the main issue facing coastal birds today – littering. Over 1 million seabirds are killed by ocean pollution each year. The class really surprised us with their knowledge and passion surrounding this and they were determined to make a difference by clearing up the beaches and spreading the word. It was heart-warming to see such enthusiasm for conservation in children of such a young age (10 – 13 years).
The learners in this school come from very underprivileged backgrounds. Many may not have had breakfast or a meal the night before, yet this does not hinder their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. I saw more motivation here than in many classes in more developed countries.
We can only hope that as they grow up this passion remains and, with our support and continuing environmental education, they can help make a difference for the future of bird populations along our coastlines.