Wildlife Ambassadors Training

reftc-students-teaching_1

Sibongile shows her teachers what she has learned about vervet monkeys.

We partner with the Southern African Wildlife College, teaching graduates of their 6-month bridging program. Our goal is to make wildlife and environmental ambassadors out of these young people who are passionate about God’s creation.   The samango monkeys and their forest home are used to teach about the interdependence of wildlife and indigenous forests. They learn about invasive species, the need for indigenous forests as well as how to intervene to protect wildlife when human – animal conflicts arise. Partnering with the SamWoodbushForestVervet Monkey Foundation, these youth learn of the emotional, social and physical needs of these primates and investigate the needs of other species as well. After learning these skills, they are introduced to land owners, farmers and directors of wildlife sanctuaries in hopes that these students will find employment. Their message of caring for wildlife is also taken into schools, teaching children to be wildlife advocates rather than abusers. At a small government school in rural South Africa, someone caught a samango monkey in a snare, crammed it into a small cage, and left it to starve to death.  Then, its lifeless body was left hanging from a tree in the middle of the school yard – on display for all the children to see.  How could this happen? Most South African children grow up never knowing or caring that animals have basic survival needs, let alone emotional and social ones.  Why?  Because no one has taught them or allowed them to have positive experiences around animals.  This could be a major reason why conserving wildlife is not a priority among impoverished South Africans. My dream is to turn this around by training young people to be wildlife ambassadors.  My plan is to equip young South Africans, specifically those passionate about protecting wildlife, with the knowledge and skills needed to bring out that compassion in others. Rainbow Eco-Farm and Training Center has developed a Wildlife Ambassadors program, which partners with wildlife sanctuaries to train and send out new educator-ambassadors.  Our plan is to: –Find candidates who have compassion for animals and respect for nature –Train the educators at the sanctuaries –Find funding to pay them salaries –Based at a sanctuary, they would be giving tours to small groups of children and/or running education programs at local primary/secondary schools.  The sanctuary would be asked to provide lodging and meals for the educators.