The Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit in Hwange National Park recently played host to the Eco-Club Grade 7s at Ngamo Primary School. This was to expose the students first hand to this amazing team’s efforts in tackling poaching in the Hwange National Park which borders on this community.
Panthera, an organisation devoted to the conservation of big cats, sponsors the Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit as well as five CITW Eco-Clubs in Tsholotsho. On a recent visit to Ngamo Primary School’s Eco-Club lesson, Panthera’s Paul Funston, and his guests, were lucky enough to experience a lesson which as fate would have it, was on antipoaching. The visitors were so impressed by the content of the lesson, and the quality of teaching that they pledged to fund a visit to the Scorpions for each of the five Eco-Clubs in the area, where they would be able to see the set-up and learn more about what the Scorpions do, thus consolidating what they had learned in their lesson.
On this particular visit, a media team from Germany accompanied the tour and took the opportunity to film the excursion as a showcase of what the CITW programme offers. On arrival, the students were introduced to the rangers and then shown to the educational centre. Here, the walls lined with over 3500 snares collected on the daily patrols over the last few years, were a grim reminder of the size of the problem. A scavenger hunt for various types of snares hidden in and around the education centre, while fun, caused much discussion on which snare catches which animal and brought home to the students how cruel and destructive to wildlife numbers snaring is. This hands-on education provides students with the knowledge on what to look for in snares around their villages.
The Scorpions team demonstrated how they work and their effects on the wildlife population. A large portion of their work involves daily patrols to different areas of the park to retrieve snares and prevent loss of any wildlife there. The unit works in close collaboration with the communities neighbouring the park, and it was here that the children learned how they could become involved. Arnold Tshipa, the Wilderness Safaris ecologist, chatted to the children about the need to protect the wildlife we have, and the importance of sharing the conservation message, through their school colleagues, with the communities that they live in. A short question and answer session allowed the school children the opportunity to interact with the rangers and find out about the work that they do to conserve the wildlife in the area.
Mr Moyo, the headmaster at Ngamo Primary School, said that the children demonstrated a keen interest in the message that was shared with them, and hoped that one day they could join the Scorpions in their fight to protect Zimbabwe’s wildlife. He invited the Scorpions to the school to teach more children about the work that they do. Funding for these excursions, in addition to the running of the Eco-Clubs, is provided by Panthera, and has become an integral part of the CITW programme. These excursions are ongoing to ensure that as many children have the opportunity to learn about anti-poaching as possible. We are so grateful for Panthera’s continued support and interest in our programme.