Following on from the momentum of World Environment Day, the 15th of June marked the official launch of the collaborative Primary School Conservation Clubs, a partnership between the African Bush Camps Foundation, The Hide Community Trust and Painted Dog Conservation in 3 of the Dete Schools, those in closest proximity to Hwange National Park with the view to help bring more lively and hands-on conservation practices to children in-schools. The school clubs will be empowered with different resources that will see them achieving their fundamental goals in conservation through club interactions.
The launching of the conservation clubs was held at Main Camp Primary School and the three partner schools attending were Main Camp, Chezhou and Mambanje Primary Schools. As with all club activities at schools, these are be led by a small committee of the pupils with a teacher selected to act as a patron and resource person to the club. The clubs will be lined up with activities that will be done on weekly basis during club time and monthly the clubs will meet guest presenters from the guides at The Hide and African Bush Camps. These clubs will solely focus on the conservation aspects around their local area and environment so as to create total awareness to all children and members of the community.
During the launch at Main Camp Primary, the 3 schools present took part in their first activity where they built up a keyhole garden. A keyhole garden is a 2m wide circular raised garden with a keyhole shaped indentation on one side. The indentation allows space for the gardener to add composting in an enclosure built at the center of the garden. The composting can include greywater, manure, leaves, and kitchen scrapes and waste. The keyhole garden allows for use of all household waste including water and thus promotes recycling in an efficient manner while growing crops in an intensive way in a smaller area. Watering through the composting enclosure at the center of the garden also means that less water is used and plants learn to grow longer roots and survive even in drought prone areas. The stones around the garden also help to keep moisture in promoting efficiency.
The other two clubs present from Mambanje and Chezhou will go on to implement their own keyhole gardens at their schools amongst many other club activities that the clubs will begin to engage in. Some activities planned include environmental explorations, debates, wildlife quizzes and competitions, trees and forest research, river bank cultivation, lectures from guest environmental experts, clean up campaigns and many more.
The launching of the conservation clubs has been an important partnership between organizations working within the areas in and around the Hwange National Park and really reflects the benefits of partnership and working together to engage with communities. African Bush Camps Foundation is very excited and looking to further develop partnerships with operators and organizations in the area. We are very proud of the conservation clubs and hope their excitement grows and they go on to implement meaningful change in their schools and also take the concepts learned into their homes and communities.