Our relationship with nature is dangerously imbalanced. The year 2020 proved that nature is important and essential for our existence, making intact natural systems imperative to our wellbeing.
This year in celebration of Earth Hour and beyond, learners from various schools in the country took part in the campaign ‘Speak Up for Nature and Connect to Wildlife’. The activities around the campaign were to raise environmental awareness amongst young people in both urban and rural areas about the importance of nature, biodiversity, and combatting wildlife crime.
Hundred and thirty-eight (138) learners took part in the campaign: 40 from Cimbebasia Primary School- Windhoek; 20 from Masida Combined School- Sobbe Conservancy; 16 from Goreseb High School- Khorixas; 14 from Welwitschia High School– Khorixas; 20 from Holden Ulenga Combined School– Iipumbu Ya Tshilongo conservancy; and 28 learners from Onamatanga Primary School in Sheya Shuushona Conservancy.
Through funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Combatting Wildlife Crime Project, local conservation partners - World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO), Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), and Namibia Development Trust (NDT), implemented the activities on the ground in the various regions with presentations emphasising the importance of our connection to nature and combatting wildlife crime.
The locally produced film Baxu and the Giants was screened and well received by the learners who were inspired to protect their wildlife. In Khorixas, two rhino rangers were present to speak about their successes and challenges in looking after these iconic species. The role of conservancy game guards in safeguarding our natural resources was shared and the work done by these courageous men and women sparked appreciation in the young people.
As one of the many ways to speak up for nature, the learners cleaned up their school grounds and surrounding areas and from some of the recyclable materials, used their imagination to create various art pieces which were innovative and eye catching.
At Cimbebasia, learners created posters and crafted wildlife structures that will be used by the environmental club to raise awareness about wildlife crime. At Goresb, flowerpots and bags were made to showcase the importance of reusing materials to create beautiful and useful goods. Welwitschia learners made a rake and dustbin which are some of the materials missing at the school to help keep their environment clean. Learners at Masida vowed to speak up towards habitat conservation in their area to protect the home of important wildlife species. The Holden Ulenga learners created materials that will speak towards sustainable utilisation of resources in the area and at Onamatanga, learners created baskets and mats that can be used in households, they will encourage others to be creative and resourceful.
The 138 learners pledged to become stewards of the environment and take the lessons learnt to share them with their peers and their surrounding communities. In schools with no environmental clubs the pupils were excited to start one and speak up for nature.
“We will stand up and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”.