Confounding the dark world of snakes
April 6 2016

Our conservation education course aims to encourage engagement with the natural environment in which participants live, and to help them understand the advantages of living alongside and conserving local wildlife, habitat and ecosystems.

Students at the ALERT Education Centre in Gweru have been learning about African countries, habitats, animals, and tracks and signs.  A module on Africa’s large cats, their biology, conservation, contribution to the local economy and environment, and measures to mitigate human-cat-conflict was also a major focus.

Meanwhile, 77 pupils at Chamabondo primary school have been learning about human-wildlife conflict, trees, insects, the water cycle, pollution and zoonotic diseases (a zoonosis is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans).

Two graduation days were held in Gweru where students were treated to a snake induction, horse riding, time with Antelope Park’s elephants, a game drive, and a tour of the lion breeding program.  The learners were thrilled and were very grateful for what one said was ¨a lifetime experience which would forever be engraved on my heart ¨.


As snakes are culturally associated with the dark world (witchcraft) students exhibited their fear of snakes during the snake induction.  However, thanks to lessons given as part of the course about the role of snakes in an ecosystem, and this visit to the “snake room” at the Park, some students managed to muster some courage to hold the python and brown house snake with the aid of our snake handler Tom.

Snake Induction

Students are asked to write feedback on their experience concerning conservation education as a whole and all students expressed a great appreciation of the free lessons and on the wonderful opportunity of visiting Antelope Park.

About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project

Our conservation education syllabus was developed by ALERT in partnership with Coventry University and David Brackstone of John Taylor High School.  Evaluation of the effectiveness of the syllabus in changing attitudes towards a more positive view of conservation has been undertaken by Coventry University as well as by Ruth Armstrong, of Edinburgh Napier University.  ALERT has also established a tripartite agreement between ALERT, Copperbelt University (Zambia) and Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) to improve conservation education provision in these two countries.

The syllabus has four main objectives:

- to increase participants’ awareness of their environment and assist them in developing sound judgement in the management of natural resources;

- to involve participants in activities to increase their understanding of environmental issues;

- to encourage participants to develop the ability to view situations from an environmental point of view, and to undertake simple investigations and interpret the results, and;

- to emphasize to participants the potential of the environment as a source of benefits and therefore something to conserve, manage and sustain.

This work combines science with local knowledge, to ensure we deliver a conservation education curriculum that positively impacts upon students’ attitudes and behaviours, and is culturally appropriate for the children and communities we reach.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

Conservation Education is one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

Join us at the AEC

ALERT offers a Conservation Education internship for those keen to gain hands-on teaching experience, while contributing to the protection and preservation of Africa’s wildlife.  Interns will help in preparing and delivering lessons both in the classroom and on field trips.  The syllabus encompasses environmental conservation, ecology and biodiversity, sustainability, and wildlife ecology and management.  If you are interested in an internship at the AEC at Antelope Park click here full details.

Support the AEC

If you would like to support the activities of our AEC operations please click here.


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