Conservation: What’s In It For Me?
March 10 2016

Conservation Education in Livingstone has been continuing the theme of ‘Conservation in Action’.  A recent lesson in the module focussed on benefits of conservation programmes on the local community and the environment.

The children were split into 12 groups, and each assigned a local character; such as a farmer, a taxi driver, a chef, a builder, a lodge owner, a grocery store owner, etc.  Each group was asked to consider what benefits could be derived by their character as a result of conservation programmes, and then present their ideas to the whole class.  For example, local taxi drivers could benefit from increased business as a result of more tourists visiting the town to see the healthier neighbouring national park which is more attractive as a result of a conservation action.   

This notion of identifying potential benefits to local stakeholders from conservation actions is the foundation of ALERT’s approach to conservation; we call it ‘responsible development’.

A subsequent lesson has looked at lions as a case study in conservation.  The lesson aims at understanding the place which lions hold in African ecosystems, and the species adaptations, needs and threats, and also to assess the conservation status of lions.

The lesson was made up of four different activities with the class split into four groups to rotate through each activity, for a maximum of 15 minutes.

1) What’s a lion like? In this activity, students were given a selection of lion photographs and the ecosystems they live in.  Students were asked to record the features of a lion that makes it well suited to its environment and its roles as an apex predator.

2) What does a lion do? Pupils were asked to create a simple food web with lions at the top and then to describe what impact it has on the ecosystem, focusing on the beneficial roles it plays.

3) What threatens the lions?  Students were asked to consider the major threats to the lion populations of Africa.

4) How many lion? This activity focused on historical and present data on lion populations to see how their range and numbers have changed.  Using this data, students were asked to draw a population graph to see how populations have declines over the past years.

In 2015, the IUCN reviewed the conservation status of lions across Africa, finding that populations have declined a staggering 43% in the past 21 years (1993 – 2014) alone.  They estimate that fewer than 20,000 lions remain across the continent.

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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