Bringing HIPPO to Mukamusaba School
July 24 2015

Bringing HIPPO to Mukamusaba School

On the 15th of July our team returned to Mukamusaba School in Livingstone to continue the module on endangered species, part of our conservation education syllabus.

Mukamusaba School

The session started with a review of what the students had learned during the last lesson in the module when they focused on describing the threats to, and conservation status of, different species.

The mnemonic “HIPPO” was then introduced as a way to remember the five main threats to endangered species:

H - is for habitat loss

I   - is for invasive species

P - is for pollution and pesticides

P - is for population increase

O - is for over hunting and over collecting

Mukamusaba School

As a class, the students recalled specific threats they had identified in the previous lesson, and placed them under each of these main headings.  

The main focus of this week’s lesson involved introducing new key vocabulary to describe another way species classifications are used in conservation: keystone, indicator, umbrella, and flagship species. The definitions to these words were written on whiteboards around the room. The students then worked with a partner and they had to fit the definitions to each classification.

KEYSTONE SPECIES play a crucial role in how an ecosystem functions. Without the keystone species the ecosystem would be dramatically different or would not be able to survive. While all species in a habitat rely on each other, keystone species have a huge impact on their environment. Their disappearance would start a domino effect, leading to other species in the ecosystem also disappearing.

INDICATOR SPECIES are species humans focus on to gather information about an ecosystem. Their presence or absence in an environment can be a signal that all is well, or something is not right. Certain types of plants or animals may exist in a very specific area. If the species begins to disappear, this ecoregion may be shrinking and action may need to be taken to save the environment. Indicator species can tell humans about the health of the environment. Many are extremely sensitive to pollution or human interference.

UMBRELLA SPECIES have a wide range and requirements for living as high, or higher, than other animals in the habitat. If the umbrella species' requirements are met, then so are the needs of many other species in its ecosystem. The Monarch butterfly is an example of an umbrella species because of its lengthy migrations across North America, covering lots of ecosystems. Any protections given to the Monarch will also “umbrella” many other species and habitats.

FLAGSHIP SPECIES are used by organizations and agencies to capture the public's attention for support for conservation efforts.  These flagship species - such as pandas, whales, tigers, gorillas and butterflies - are species that the public finds captivating and are interested in helping. When the flagship species is helped, so are species in their ecosystems that the general public may find less appealing.

By discussing examples of specific animals the students were able to understand how the types of species differed. They will use these keywords in the next lesson when they continue the module on endangered species by looking at a variety of conservation projects, discussing the relative merits of each, and begin planning their own conservation project.


About ALERT’s Conservation Education Project

Our year-long 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.


Donate Now



Facilitated Research

Join us