Between the 10th and 13th of May 2019, thirty standard seven students from Khumaga Primary School came into the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park for 24-hours each. Accompanying the students were eight parents and teachers. During each two-day, one-night trip, the participants went on two game drives, heard from a range of professionals in the conservation and tourism industries, participated in multiple activities and heard about Elephants for Africa’s (EfA’s) research activities. The feedback from students, teachers, parents and accompanying guides was strongly positive, with all being keen on this annual event continuing into its third year in 2020. The trip was sponsored by Bush Ways Safaris, through the Bush Ways Foundation, and small in-kind contributions were provided by SKL Group of Camps and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, further funding came from Elephants for Africa’s unrestricted funding.
Each student, parent and teacher attended the Park Trip for 24-hours which included the following activities:
13h00-13h30: Pick up at school and enter Park, provision of Environment Club badges for students and EfA badges for parents and teachers.
13h30-15h00: Set up of camp (first group learnt how to erect tents which was met enthusiastically) and participation in activities such as an animal word search and review of wildlife reference books followed by lunch.
15h00-18h00: Game drive to Boteti River region of the Park and waterhole in the northern area while learning about Botswana’s wildlife, EfA’s research and the importance of scavengers. Students were provided with binoculars, animal checklists and safari books (mammals, birds, tracks) to enrich the experience and were encouraged to search for the animal they saw in the book to identify them.
18h00-19h30: Showers followed by dinner and marshmallow toasting over the fire.
19h30-20h30: Dinner with guest speakers and guides.
19h15-20h30: Evening guest speakers from conservation and tourism industry speakers included people from the following professions: guiding (Bush Ways), community outreach (EfA), Research (EfA) and catering and camp operations (Bush Ways).
20h30-21h00: Preparing for bed.
06h00-07h30: Morning showers, pack up camp and breakfast.
07h30-11h30: Morning game drive, as per evening drive, plus guide showed students animal tracks and students had a morning tea break at a stretch point along the river.
11h30-12h30: Activities in camp including a quiz on topics covered during the drives, animal bingo and drawing of their favourite sightings.
12h30-13h00: Return to school.
During the trip we gathered feedback from attendees to gauge value and enjoyability. We had positive feedback from all and as such are looking to hold the trip for a third year in 2020. Quotes from key stakeholders included:
“Yes, I am having so much fun. It’s so nice here, I want to live here all the time with the animals”, Standard 7 student, Khumaga Primary School
“I enjoyed the trip, I was hoping to see a lion unfortunately I didn’t. I understand because some animals hide in the bush making it difficult to be seen. Overall, I was very happy with everything and glad to be able to come and learn”, James, teacher, Khumaga Primary School.
“I was really impressed with the trip, I think it’s so important for students here to have the opportunity to see the Park and have an experience similar to what people from all over the world are travelling to see, for them to appreciate what’s in their ‘backyard’. It was great for them to learn in depth about the animals and the area near them, to see the beauty and value in it, considering there are wildlife conflicts in the area. It’s also important for them to see the potential jobs they can have in tourism or research, especially I they want to stay and work in the area”, Emily Spraggs, Volunteer, Khumaga Primary School
“We saw different animals that we don’t normally see every day. I appreciate the treat we got. Hope this continues”, Mma Moikwathae, teacher, Khumaga Primary School.
Our stay was great, but we wanted to be there for maybe week so that we can enjoy more. Everything was great, and I enjoyed my short stay”, Compost, student, Khumaga Primary School.
“It is such a good experience for the kids, we hope to see you next year!”, Mike, Bush Ways Safari Guide
“I learnt so much” … “this was so fun” … “Wow” … “We should keep calm around elephants to be safe” – student attendees, Khumaga Primary School