“From a tiny seed a baobab will grow.”
The main point of our education and outreach programs is to share what we have learned with children and adults in a locally relevant way. Everything we learn has to be returned back to the communities.
The overall level of education of Niassa’s residents is very low. Most children leave school after three to four years and receive little or no information about the significance of Niassa as a protected area or their place in it. At the moment, people either see animals as food or as a threat. It is essential that we build a relationship between people and wildlife if we are to protect Niassa and its carnivores.
By developing fun, locally-relevant educational tools and providing an opportunity for children and adults to spend time in the bush away from the stresses of the villages, we hope to build appreciation for Niassa Reserve and to provide information on ways they can live safely with wild animals. We see education and outreach as the paths to increasing tolerance and promoting successful coexistence between people and carnivores.
We are starting to see results due to steady efforts to engage local people with our projects and build trust through field visits, development of educational materials, and fun activities. Mbamba school children are producing conservation plays. Collars of lions and leopards that have been snared are being returned and teachers are including conservation messages in their classrooms. The seeds have been planted and now need to be nurtured.