Hi everybody! We are Friends of Ruaha Society, a small NGO based in Iringa, southern Tanzania. There are currently four of us in the office, two “watanzania” and two “wazungu,” and we regularly go out into the field to conduct environmental education in the schools and villages that border Ruaha National Park, the largest and most beautiful (sorry, we’re biased!) park in all of Africa.
We’ve just gotten back from some intense and HOT days in the field: Magreth and Jackson took one of our aging Land Rovers out to Pawaga district, where they visited 13 primary schools in 4 days, and Anette and I (Alexander) took the other Land Rover to Idodi district, where we visited 10 schools in 3 days. Our goal on these trips was to assess students’ knowledge of wildlife, one of four modules in the FORS environmental education curriculum.
In these pictures, Anette is doing her best hippo impression to the delight of Standard I and II students at Kitanewa Primary School, and a group of Standard III students from Mafuluto Primary School are holding up a picture of an elephant in response to a wild animal riddle game. We were pleased to see that most students are knowledgable about local wildlife, and did well on the questionnaires (for Standards IV, V and VI) that we gave them.
All of these schools are located in villages that have Wildlife Management Areas bordering Ruaha National Park. Of course, the animals don’t stay within the boundaries of the park, so villagers get regular visits from elephants, impala, kudu, hyena, wild dogs, etc. Human-wildlife conflicts are an issue in these villages, which is why it’s important for us to start early and cooperate with local teachers to ensure that primary school children learn to value wildlife.
We welcome you to our blog and would love to hear your comments about our work. We will try our best to post once a week, even when we’re in the field, and we would be very grateful to receive your donations. Every little bit helps!