Thursday, February 16, 2012

School visit!

Zebra posing at Thaba Tholo
HI everyone!

I have taken over from Emma Loader as the head researcher for the Ingwe Leopard Research and team leader for the new Black Leopard Campus volunteer scheme.We are busy rebuilding our research camp, which is due to be finished at the end of March! Until then I will be based at Black leopard Camp and will move down to my new accommodation in April

Volunteer camp building so far
The time between now and then will be spent finding my feet in these roles and working with our volunteers who will be staying with me at Black Leopard Camp. I am extremely excited to be involved with this and helping to continue what the project started in 1999.

School buildings at Sizo
Apart from assisting with the research on Thaba Tholo, we would like the volunteers to contribute a bit of their time to the community, in particular the local schools. Involving the community is one of the most important parts of conservation and I believe a key in making a project a success.

Building needing renovation
The Sizo primary school situated between Lydenburg and Thaba Tholo was visited by 2 On Track Safari Guests Karen and John to help us distribute some much needed gifts for the children donated by previous guests.

On Track safari Guests meet the children and teachers
Sizo was one of 5 schools that Carol and I had visited a last week. Each school needs help in different ways. None of the schools have computers for the children or even a TV to show educational dvd's etc. Sizo has a couple of nice classrooms and a library. But like many schools in rural areas, 2 or even 3 grades are taught together because of the lack of teachers.

Organizing the gifts for the children
All of the schools we visited teach in English, but one thing that struck me was how shy the children were. As the gifts of socks, pencils, rubbers etc were handed out they began to smile, but when I told one of the girls she had a very pretty smile and she went all shy again!

The principal told us they teach in English to give the students more confidence for when they reach high school and the work place. I could see already just visiting the school with the volunteers would be a huge benefit to the children to practice their English with us and to hear different accents!

The school principal showing us around.
It reminds me of a visit to I made to Sumatra when I was in my early 20's. I was sitting in a building, in a small village close to Way Kambas National Park, where I had been staying. The building housed a number of phones and this was how the local people could communicate with the outside world. I was sitting minding my own business waiting for my friend to finish his phone conversation when a little old lady who was sitting next to me, turned to me and spoke in Indonesian or her local language. I replied “I am sorry, I don’t understand, I’m English”. At this she turned to her children, pointed animatedly at me and shouted “English”. Suddenly I was surrounded by 4 or 5 children all giggling. One asked me “How are you?” I replied “I am fine thank you and you?” They went into a fit of laughter as the next one asked me a question. The penny dropped, they were so excited to practice their English on a real English person and they were beside themselves! Their mother was touching my hair and saying “beautiful, I love you, please come home with us!” Quite a surreal but heartwarming experience!

School drinking water.
Written by Tara


  1. Lovely :) ! Thank you so much for showing us the village school and the children!

  2. Wow Tara I love this story...typically you are so generous and warm-hearted, always thinking about the good of others, especially children. Those people are so fortunate that you are there and interested in them. What a good example you are, always, for your country too.

  3. Great report, Tara--thank you for keeping us posted. Sounds like a great job and use of all your talents!

  4. So glad you are there making a difference. Thought you might like to hear that 7 people have been arrested in USA for importing rhino horn.Hopefully, our gov. will be hard on them. Here's a link: