Selinda Camp has been working closely with the Big Cats Initiative which was launched by Dereck and Beverly Joubert and the National Geographic Society in order to combat the drastic decline in the world's big cat populations, such as lion. We are proud to be part of the Big Cat Initiative which includes programmes such as "Caring about Communities that Care about Big Cats" that has recently begun in Botswana.
January saw the launch of the Big Cat Initiative in the villages surrounding the Okavango Delta including the villages where our community outreach operates. The Big Cat Initiative, together with our community outreach, visited primary and secondary schools in Gudigwa, Beetsha, Gonotsoga and Seronga.
The aim of these visits was to convey educational messages and raise public awareness of the fast-declining population of big cats worldwide, including the wildlife areas that neighbour their community. Each school was invited to attend a presentation at the end of the school day.
These education and public awareness presentations consisted of:
- Educating the school (including the teachers) about the interesting and fun facts that they didn't know about any of the big cats.
- Bringing their attention to the rapid decline of big cats in the world, Botswana and their own wildlife areas.
- Speaking to the communities about the natural connection that big cats have to the rest of the environment, the reasons for the fast decline of big cat populations and the negative impact it would have on the environment if we no longer have these animals.
- Teaching the children through innovative games how we can learn life lessons from these big cats, including learning how to work in a team as a "Pride of Lion" would when hunting.
Besides the presentations, the schools were handed donations of wildlife books and wildlife films by Dereck and Beverly Joubert. The pupils watched one of the films from the donated packages; Relentless Enemies, which was viewed with great enthusiasm by all of the children and their teachers.
Through this program we have assisted in educating and bringing big cat awareness to approximately 2200 children. The next few months will see the Big Cats Initiative "Pride" expand into more communities within the Okavango Delta and other wildlife areas in Botswana and we look forward to following the success of this awesome program.
Our Community Outreach Programme has also been active with expanding our craft product line to include beaded jewellery, baskets and hand stitched purses which will be shortly available within the camp curio shops. We are also busy planning a two-day conservation workshop at Gudigwa Primary School during the April school holidays as part of our Children's Conservation Programme. We look forward to spending more time with these children, learning together.