Eco Training Program Recognised at Kudu Awards

Children Eco Training (CET) at Klaserie Private Nature Reserve walked away with the Kudu for best environmental education organisation at the annual SANParks awards function at Golden Gate.

"The Kudu Awards is an initiative that aims to recognise external stakeholders for their contribution and efforts in making South African National Parks the custodian of choice for the national parks system of South Africa, and also plays a significant role in the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage, thus protecting South Africa's most valuable national assets," says Reynold Thakuli, general manager, media at SANParks.

Individuals and organisations outside of SANParks are recognised in four categories - corporate, community and media contribution to conservation as well as organisations and individuals that further environmental education or capacity building. CET was initiated in 2004 by the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve (KPNR) to create environmental awareness with the youth of the reserve.

At first, CET focussed on presenting workshops and training for the children of KPNR staff. For the last six years local children have explored the wonders of their environment and discovered nature's rhythms, cycles, patterns and intricacies during the themed holiday events.

Over the years, CET extended its conservation and development message to neighbouring communities. To date three schools in the Acornhoek / Bushbuckridge region in particular - Seganyane, Mawuvana and Matikinya primary schools - have benefited from the outreach programme.

Activities include new classroom floors at Seganyane, a borehole for Matikinya and refurbished school furniture for Mawuvana. This is in addition to awareness events during Water Week and Arbour Day, as well as books, toys and plants donated to the schools. Other initiatives include the kit-a-kid project where funds are raised towards fitting needy children with school uniforms.

In partnership with MAD (Make a Difference) and the Southern Cross Schools in Hoedspruit, CET supports four children at Southern Cross Schools.

In recent years, CET's activities came to the attention of volunteer organisations, based locally and abroad. One of the groups, UK-based African Conservation Experience (Ace) facilitated volunteers who helped during the holiday training and with community projects like vegetable gardens, cleaning and maintenance at schools. "We were delighted with the recognition of our efforts to unlock environmental awareness in our communities," says Zani Kunz, chief executive officer of CET.

Other Kudu winners for 2010 are:

Corporate contribution: Dr Brian van Wilgen for his significant contributions to conservation and for their group contribution towards the Jock Safari Lodge initiative in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

Media contribution: Eleanor Momberg of the Independent Group and a merit award to Sharon van Wyk. Community contribution: The Endangered Wildlife Trust (group), KwaZulu Natal; Eugene Joubert (region of the year) and Sunset Serenade in KNP's Letaba; Margret Stafford (project of the year).

Environmental education: Individuals recognised: Bongani Mbatha and Dr Madelein J. Grundlingh. Group: Children's Eco Training.

Kruger National Park - South African Safari