After long discussions and lots of planning 4th February saw the start of the first ever Elephants For Africa Elefun weekend. Elephants For Africa (EfA) has wanted to start working with the children of local communities [in Botswana] for some time, but haven’t had the funding to employ someone with the appropriate skills to liaise with the education department, schools and communities to turn this into reality. In 2010 we had the idea of approaching Children in the Wilderness, an existing non-profit organisation, which is already working with local schools and communities. Working together, we developed the concept for the Elefun weekends and won the sponsorship from Elephant Back Safaris, Passage to Africa and Kavango Air.
Upon arrival we held a session where the children were asked to tell us what they knew and thought of elephants, the general theme was fear and hatred that elephants were vindictive and would kill anyone they see. The Team had many fears, barriers and misconceptions to overcome. Many of these children’s families are subsistence farmers and so crop raiding is a major issue in their areas. This weekend was an opportunity for children to see elephants in a different light, learn about their needs and their importance to Botswana’s ecology and economy.
The whole weekend was focused on elephants, highlighted by the opportunity to meet elephants up close and personal at the Abu Camp. At the beginning many of the children would not get off the car, but curiosity got the better of them when Cathy, the matriarch, stood there placidly as the mahouts told them about how elephanst have evolved to fill a role in the ecosystem. All students then wanted their photograph taken with her.
The children left with knowledge to make informed decisions about elephants and we were left a little empty hearted as these children had made such an impression on us all in the short time they were with us.
This could not have been achieved without the talent of the CITW staff, the hard work of all the staff at Seba Camp and our sponsors, Elephant Back Safaris, Passage to Africa and Kavango Air.
Elephants For Africa is a registered UK charity dedicated to elephant conservation through research and education. Based in WMA NG26 in the Okavango Delta Botswana and has been conducting research on elephants since 2002 and also operates a range of educational projects including the Boyce-Zero Scholarship for Motswana students. www.ElephantsForAfrica.org
Photos coming soon!!
Submission by Kate Evans, Elephants for Africa