|Zebra posing at Thaba Tholo|
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|
|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|
|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|
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.|