January 2018 – Children in the Wilderness (CITW) hosted its third successful Tri-Nations Camp at Little Muck Camp in Mapungubwe National Park from 12 to 15 December 2017, in partnership with the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Parks and the Peace Parks Foundation.
CITW Eco-Club members receive Mother Bear teddies as gifts; Tri-Nations activities; Tippy Tap demonstration
The initiative began in 2015 as a way of including children living in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation (GMTFCA) areas in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana in CITW programmes. The camp hosted a total of 18 children between the ages of 9 and 13, six from each country, with an equal representation of boys and girls. The participating learners were from Modikwa Primary School (South Africa), Motlhabaneng Primary School (Botswana) and Shashi Primary School (Zimbabwe).
“When standing at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers some of the children were able to see their villages which was very exciting for them as they were actually standing in another country. The camp brings together children from three countries, providing them with the opportunity to learn about other cultures and experiences. It is magical to see them becoming one, united, having fun, while they learn about wild animals, the environment and the heritage of the place”, said Bokang Shopane, the CITW GMTFCA Programme Coordinator.
The children who attend the annual Tri-Nations Camp are selected from the CITW Eco-Clubs in their local schools in accordance with their commitment and portrayal of interest in conservation. They come with a very good knowledge base accumulated from Eco-Club lessons and activities throughout the year. Their time during the Tri-Nations Camp was packed with fun and educational activities that have them constantly discovering new things about the environment and about each other. Shalom Makambanga from Shashi Primary School was one of the many learners who arrived at the camp eager to learn as much as she could in four days. “It was a life-changing experience for me. The most important thing I learned about was how to keep our biodiversity healthy, strong and protected”, she said.
“The learners invited to the camp are from the deepest rural areas of these three countries. For some of these children it is their first time out of their country, even their village, and their first time experiencing anything even close to the CITW camp experience. The moment is incredible, the learning is immense and the appreciation cannot be described. We are proud to be able to afford these children this opportunity and to be able to teach them more about their environment”, said Janet Wilkinson, CITW Programme Manager.
The successful continuation of the Tri-Nations Camp forms part of a bigger project that sees the three countries that form part of the GMTFCA collaborate on various initiatives. These include CITW’s primary fundraising event, the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, a multi-day mountain bike event which traverses amazing and pristine wilderness areas in the three countries. Involving communities which reside in and around the GMTFCA, especially the young children, ensures that these areas will be protected by the local inhabitants in the long run.