In the South Luangwa region in Zambia we support the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust (CWET), which runs a youth education project with much love and heart. CWET gives young people hope and wildlife a chance.
The project organizes "Nature Night Camping Trips" supported by Future for Elephants, giving young people the opportunity to learn about the fauna and flora of their homeland while gaining experience and learning skills for their future.
After the restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic in the previous year, the 3-day program focusing on "elephants" could now be carried out. The 20 most active students of CWET's "Conservation Club" were offered the opportunity to participate.
"Nature Nights" took place from May 3 to 7, in 2 groups of 10 students each. The first group from Monday to Wednesday, the second group from Wednesday to Friday. The program was accompanied by the Conservation Education Manager and 2 Community Conservation Educators (CCEs) who acted as facilitators, a professional guide and an armed wildlife scout who provided safety during the nature walks. In addition, each group was accompanied by a teacher from their school. The simple camp is located in an area bordering the biodiverse South Luangwa National Park.
The program included various tasks on team building, leadership skills, communication and nature and species conservation. The participants could learn skills for their future life in the middle of nature. For example, a survival challenge where a series of tasks needed to survive in the bush for a short period of time had to be completed within 4 hours.
Nature studies on wildlife and birds with identification and recording taught the youth the importance of species in their habitat. Tracking, analysis, identification and tracing as well as determination of animal dung were also part of the program, which was enthusiastically received.
Following the focus on elephants, the pachyderms were observed extensively during nature walks and gamedrives. In the process, the students learned more about their behavior and important details about their biology and ecology. Many of the participants previously perceived the giants only as harvest thieves and causes of conflict in their home villages. Seeing the elephants in their habitat opened up a completely new positive way of looking at the animals for the students and gave many a completely different impression than encountering them in the environment of their home villages.
A short workshop on compassion and appreciation of life explored how big elephants are and how they communicate .
During a night safari, the gray giants could even be observed up close. This great experience initiated a discussion about elephant activities in the villages and fields. Ideas emerged on how human-elephant conflicts could be resolved.
The elephant focus program was a great success. Despite mostly bad experiences from their home villages with the pachyderms, all students were very interested in learning more about the animals and working on solutions to the conflicts and problems. They got to know the gentle side of the Gentle Giants during the many observations and will probably show them more understanding, respect and maybe love in the future.
The next "Nature Nights" are scheduled for mid-August 2021.
Read the Nature Nights Report May 2021
More about the project: