In an effort to encourage and empower school girls in rural areas to develop an interest in environmental conservation, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana, Wilderness Safaris’ not-for-profit partner, held a five-day Conservation Science Camp for 30 girls from Ngambao Community Junior Secondary School in Seronga, in Botswana’s North-West District.
The camp, part of a one-year project funded by the US Embassy in Botswana, took place from the 18th to the 23rd of April. It is the first Environmental Science and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)-focused project for school girls. By focusing on these subjects, it is hoped that the girls will be inspired to pursue environmental and STEM-based tertiary degrees and career trajectories.
“Rural communities are considerably dependent on their surrounding nature, biodiversity and the environment for their livelihoods. There is a strong link between empowerment of rural girls, environmental conservation science and STEM-based skills,” explains Moalosi Lebekwe, CITW Botswana Programme Co-ordinator, “We need to deploy STEM-based skills in rural areas to address environmental degradation, resolve human-wildlife conflicts and to safeguard local indigenous knowledge for the sustainability of rural communities’ livelihoods”.
The girls, aged between 16 and 18, participated in workshops and discussions focusing on nature, biodiversity, human-wildlife coexistence, and conservation of the Okavango Delta, using scientific methods to conduct mini-researches and investigations. Other activities included career guidance, life skills and leadership talks, and team projects. During their nature walks, the girls learnt how to set camera traps, use GPS tracking, and how a drone is used for environmental conservation purposes.
The camp was organised and run by a team of ecologists, scientists and conservationists, from the University of Oxford’s WildCRU, the Research Institute of the University of Botswana, and from Wilderness Safaris’ Environmental Department.
“CITW is focused on Environmental Education, life skills and leadership development for children in Botswana and Africa. By understanding the importance of conservation and its relevance to the lives of the next generation of decision-makers, we can inspire them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future”, notes Moalosi.
The next camp will take place in August 2021, with two camps of 30 girls.
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