VIDEO: Helping South African Kids Understand Human Impact on Animals

It gave me hope thinking that if these young learners continue to strive for excellence as they clearly had done in presenting the seriousness of the risks faced by so many species on our planet.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare was invited by a local primary school to attend the annual Wildlife Awareness Convention for learners aged 9 who are in Grade 3.  Each learner chose an animal that is under threat, researched it and presented a paper on all the amazing facts and fearful issues concerning the animal about which they are passionate.

The children are permitted to dress up as researchers/scientists/campaigners on the day.  The purpose of the convention being to create awareness that our own species, humans, are the most guilty species on the planet for causing these life and habitat threats to all other species.

As my colleague and I entered the school grounds, we had flashbacks to our own school days, with the smell of books and floor polish in the air, bringing back memories of packed lunches and school ma’ms with spectacles balancing on the ends of their noses, never mind going home with red knuckles for forgetting to study for times tables.

We entered the room where all the Grade 3 learners had gathered, ready for the start of the Convention and could see at a glance that there was a wide array of emotions on display, excitedness, nervousness, apprehension, both on the part of the learners and myself, I must say.

To kick start the Convention, an overview of the work IFAW undertakes at the IFAW funded Dog & Cat Clinic in Khayelitsha was given to learners, parents and educators.  As learners took to the podium in their roles as “scientists”, “rangers”, “film crews” and “researchers”, it was evident that these young people took this task very seriously and a lot of research and homework on each species had gone into every presentation.  Knowledge was shared and concerns voiced on endangered animals, ranging from the critically endangered black rhino and white lion, the endangered blue whale and African penguin, the African elephant and the clouded leopard.

South African learners take part in their Wildlife Awareness Convention.

Although the seriousness of the topic at hand dominated the convention, there were lighthearted moments where a particular learner compared the tube-like mouth of an endangered seahorse with that of her brother’s mouth at dinnertime.  It was heartwarming to hear many learners commend organisations such as IFAW and people working for IFAW on their continued work on improving the welfare of wild and domestic animals by reducing the commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress.

As the convention drew to a close and the last presenter stepped off the podium, it felt good to be part of this awareness convention and I felt proud to be part of IFAW.  It gave me hope thinking that if these young learners continue to strive for excellence as they clearly had done in presenting the seriousness of the risks faced by so many species on our planet, and carry their compassion through into adulthood, then the future certainly looks very bright for all of us.

--LCH

Here is a link to the lesson plans mentioned in the video: www.ifaw.org/lessonplans_sa

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare efforts to educate people around the world about the human impact on animals visit http://www.ifaw.org/education

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