Twelve high school learners from the Phalaborwa region have developed an extra dose of enthusiasm for entering a career in the sciences after attending the first winter camp organised by the Ndlovu Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network (Saeon) that took place at the end of June.
At the camp, which is intended to become an annual event, the learners spent a week being exposed to informative presentations on science and monitoring at the Southern African Wildlife College near the Orpen Gate to the Kruger National Park.
The winter camp included some hands-on experiences, especially when the learners visited the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre where they saw a cheetah being darted and were able to handle the sleeping animal. Another practical experience was an attempt to use some game counting techniques.
The learners were taught about savanna ecology, environmental monitoring, managing rare species such as the wild dog, and other conservation related issues. The winter camp is part of Saeon's environmental outreach programme, and is designed to create an interest in environmental sciences in learners in the area.
The camp is obviously achieving some of its goals, as the learners who attended the winter camp now wish to start an eco-club with the help of Saeon. The learners commented, "What we have learned at the camp is beyond words and explanations.
We have been given a whole new perspective towards nature conservation." They will be able to show what they learnt at the camp during a celebration of women in science to be held on August 11 in the Lulekani Town Hall.