‘In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught’.
These words by Baba Douim, a Senegalese Environmentalist, are quoted from his speech given to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in New Delhi, India, 1968.
His sentiments, as one of the IUCN founding members, resonate with the The Nambian Lion Trust ‘For Our Future’ quest: for the Youth, for Educators, for farmers, for community leaders, for anyone who cares about a future on our Planet Earth.
Conservation Education Programmes, encourage a deep-seated awareness and understanding of the complexities of environmental issues, emphasising the value of the wilderness and the wildlife within it, especially the importance of co-existence. Namibian Lion Trust strives to enable local communities to support themselves without endangering the carnivore population.
The Namibian Lion Trust works on both sides of the Farmer-Lion conflict: on the one side, we try to protect the lion from being trapped & killed by angry farmers; on the other, we encourage farming communities to protect their cattle from the hungry lions. Thanks to the efforts of our Lion Guards, the efforts by the communities and our adapted farm management techniques, the situation is improving and the number of losses of both livestock and lion are dropping. In order to make this change sustainable, we need to add one more component to the equation, namely the CHILDREN.
Children are our future and when we teach them the importance of conservation and sustainability, they will carry this with them for life and act accordingly when they grow up.
For this reason, the third pillar of the Namibian Lion Trust concentrates on Conservation Education amongst the Namibian youth; this guidance does not only result in a more positive attitude towards the lion species, but it also creates new opportunities and the chance of new opportunities and the potential for additional income, especially through Wildlife tourism.
The Namibian Lion Trust supports OUR FUTURE through Conservation Education: Onguta Lower Primary Community School and various Wildlife Clubs, also encouraging community upliftment through Conservation Agriculture and Photographic Tourism.
Onguta School Development Programme
Deep in the Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy, you will find the small community of Onguta. The farmers of this community have slowly but surely adapted their farming methods and their attitude towards co-existence with wildlife. They have become a conservation-focused community and with their visionary Headman, Fanuel Ndjiwa, they set an example for other communities.
Headman Ndjiwa had a dream… to give all the Onguta children and others from nearby communities, the opportunity to go to school, Pre-School and Lower Primary Grades 1-3. Through this vision, the Onguta School Development Programme was created and supported by the AfriCat Foundation, in cooperation with the Ondau Mobile Primary, based in Opuwo. A Mobile School falls under the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport & Culture, intended to provide educational opportunities to children of nomadic and semi-nomadic communities; this means a ‘school-on-the-move’.
End 2017, the Onguta pre-and Lower Primary School Project began, whereby the two dilapidated tents with sandy floors were replaced by permanent structures, in this case, shipping containers! The new school houses two classrooms, in which two age-groups are taught in each classroom, an office, a staff-room and a computer-room; a small library and the showers & toilets for girls and boys have elicited the most smiles!
The kitchen and a dining area, that will also serve as a community gathering place when the need arises, as well as a playground, complete the Onguta picture.
This project shows true community commitment: the leaders made crucial decisions on the site, farmers and local businesses donated materials for the playground, students from the Private School Swakopmund (PSS) volunteered to paint and construct structures. Funding was provided by AfriCat UK, a private donor, Ms Lia Spitters, through the Dutch Charity, Stichting SPOTS and a Namibian company, Avril Payment Solution. A local architect, Ms Nina Maritz, designed the initial stages of the school in the style of her other eco-friendly, community-minded projects using local rock; but, due to unforeseen circumstances, we had to re-think the design and decided on using modified Shipping Containers, built and supplied by Cowboys Trading & Rental Solutions, based in Swakopmund.
Onguta community members assisted, most of whom were unskilled, but gained much experience under Cowboy’s watchful eye…
The Onguta AfriCat Primary School officially opened its doors on 11 July 2019. The children now receive education in two, fully functional classrooms and besides the regular curriculum, the teaching also focuses on the appreciation of our natural world, including extra-curricular activites. In this way, the students will gain greater understanding and a love for their environment and the wildlife therein.
Our hope is that the Children will understand what they are taught and experience, they will love what they understand, and they will conserve what they love.
This Programme was initiated by AfriCat North, and continues under the Namibian Lion Trust banner.
Namibian Lion Trust’s mission is to further support this pro-active community by developing a formal school consisting of classrooms, store-rooms, a communal gathering place, teacher’s accommodation and eventually, a boarding hostel.