Wildlife Conservation and Community Education
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Ruaha Conservation Fund update for the end of 2010 and early 2011.
Dr Dulle has been extremely busy this year with his veterinary work and has been travelling a great deal, so finding time for the Ruaha Conservation Fund was proving a challenge to us both. But despite this, our programs went well, we are however, indebted to Mr Mwangosi the local Education Officer for his help and input in organizing the events.
We had our usual range of programs, with the Environmental Day celebrations in June, The 21 students who won prizes had their over-night stay in the park, 420 children in Standard 6 (11 years of age) had a day trip into Ruaha Park in November, the 10 Secondary school students continue to be sponsored by Jongomero Camp, the Environmental Art display at Msembe School, we also sponsored 2 candidates from the village area to attend a 2 week training program in the art of sustainable charcoal making. WWF were holding a program way down in the Rufiji area, which showed the participants how to construct a 5 times more efficient kiln and how to grow and maintain a nursery for replanting the trees. The Wild Dog film in Kiswahili continued to be used by the media all over Tanzania, and early this year Dr Dulle was asked to give a talk to visiting College students from USA about the Wild dogs in the village areas. Finally we distributed the generous $5,000.00 donation from Houston Zoo to the Village Primary schools which I highlight below.
We have used the generous donation from Houston Zoo, of $5,000.00 for our village schools situated outside the Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania. We have 6 primary schools outside the park, and so we divided the donation fairly between them giving each school $800.00. Originally they were to send us a wish list, we were fully intending to distribute the items last year, however, in September, we were alerted to the fact that in the new year, there would be a whole range of new text books available for these schools. So after discussion with them, we all decided that these books were what they really needed the most. It transpires that none of the schools have more than a few copies of text books and most children never see one at all. So there was a seriously enthusiastic response to our donation. We also provided text books for the teachers them selves which was equally well received. All these teachers struggle to meet the demands of the curriculum due to a serious lack of funds which naturally means very few books to work from. They are all very dedicated and do a splendid job despite their difficult conditions. One of the schools requested a portrait of our President, which he will hang in his office, we also provided wall charts, atlases, and calenders.
The meeting took place in a classroom at the Tungamalenga Primary school, as it was a Sunday and the children were home. Dr Dulle, the founder of Ruaha Conservation Fund, myself and the 2 local education officers, Mr Mwangosi and Mr Mramba chaired the meeting. In my address I informed the gathering that Houston Zoo was responsible for providing the money for this wonderful donation, at which point everyone clapped and thumped the tables with appreciation. They requested that I conveyed to the Zoo how much they appreciate their help. They are touched that people in America so far away from them, think about sending donations to their schools.
At the same meeting we presented the Msembe School, (which is situated inside the Ruaha Park for the kids of the Park Rangers), with their very first computer. This school is slightly upgraded compared to the others, and forms our 7th school. The Park management help the school with many items from books to furniture and buildings, so they were not included in the donation of books, but as they now have electricity via a generator (the village schools do not) they requested a computer to help them with day to day activities. The money for this purchase came from the sale of the Ruaha Park Map which I designed, printed and sell at the entrance gate. All proceeds from the sales of the map goes to our village programs.
The day trips into the Park for the Standard 6 students went extremely well, it took place over a 5 day period. We used the large bus, which always looks rather strange in the Park but is the best means of transport for so many students and the most comfortable. The children are collected early in the morning from their respective villages and brought to the park in time for breakfast, followed by a long game drive and a late lunch at Msembe, Head Quarters. I attended the third days excursion and met the students and teachers for lunch at Msembe. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me so there is no visual record of the event. But everyone was very happy, all schools saw lions, elephants, and the normal range of game one group saw Cheetah and another saw ostrich so it was an exciting and memorable day for the children. This year there were no mishaps like getting stuck in the Mwagusi sand river! We are most grateful to Harry Vlek and Ans de Winter for their continued support, despite these difficult times.
We are also grateful to Petro Masolwa WWF for his enthusiasm and help in arranging for our 2 candidates to join their program in the Rufiji area.
We are most grateful to Houston Zoo for their generous donation, it certainly was joyously received and the books will be put to excellent use.
Kindest regards, Dr Dulle and Sue
Who are they: Friends of Ruaha Society (FORS) was formed in 1984 to assist with the task of safeguarding the wildlife in the Ruaha National Park and its environment. Over the years as the Tanzanian National Parks received more tourists and income, FORS focus turned toward educating the surrounding communities through a varitey of measures. Ruaha NP is 45,000 sq. km. of stunning beauty and wildlife whose lifeblood is the Ruaha River, which feeds the entire southern region of Tanzania
What do they do: FORS assists the schools of 10 communities surrounding Ruaha NP through envrionmental education, consisting of engaging youth and adults into understanding why the park was created, how it benefits Tanzanians and its importance to their future. They accomplish this through a variety of programs including information about the wildlife in the park, environmental education of Tanzania, and engaging and preparing individuals toward prospective employment within the Park and the tourist industry. Tree farming, agricultural plots and understanding the water issues of this very dry landscape dependent upon the Ruaha River, which has been slowly drying up due to poor land management and largescale rice and sugar farming.
How does WildiZe help them: in 2002 & 2005 WildiZe provided funding to enable 1500 school children, from grade levels to high school and teachers, with associated transport, food and Park Rangers for day long field trips into the park spanning one month. At the end of the field trips WildiZe also funded drawing contests complete with prizes, for the children to highlight what they experienced and learned about their environment, their wildlife and the need for conservation and water usage.
Results: in 2006, after a approx 3000 students had field trips into the park, the World Enviroment Day (WED) was held at one of the schools in the FORS community area. Over 8000 students and teachers from the 10 schools along with speakers from Tanzania NP's and Ministry of Enviroment, participated in the celebration, a culmination of 4 years of work. Prizes for the drawing contest were handed out, and WildiZe presented wildlife documentary films to the majority of the students and teachers present through out the day, while also attending the WED celebrations.