Adelaide’s Pulteney Grammar School recently hosted 10 students from Mfuwe Secondary School in the Eastern Province of Zambia, who, between the 19th April and the 7th of May 2014, were on a three week International Conservation Education Exchange program.
SALT Magazine visited Pulteney Grammar School to meet these young people and to learn more about their visit.
We learnt that it was Pulteney Grammar’s turn to host, as in June 2013, 15 of their students were hosted at the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia also as part of the International Conservation Exchange program.
The Zambian students are members of the Conservation Club run by the Zambian charity, Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust. Chosen from Conservation Club members from over sixty secondary schools, the students had worked hard to be selected for their trip of a lifetime. Assessed tasks included conducting conservation campaigns; writing conservation-based essays; and giving presentations on conservation matters.
During their visit the students spent time at Monarto Zoo, a major sponsor, and local animal experts showed them Australian animal and environment conservation techniques.
Ben Heermans, the Conservation Education manager and a teacher at Mfuwe Secondary school said the trip was an eye opener for those students who had never been out of Zambia, “It’s also giving them the opportunity to learn about conservation in a foreign land which would help them look after their wild life back in Zambia,” he said.
Eighteen-year-old student, Milimo Mweeta said it was his first time out of Zambia and among the many things he found interesting was the huge difference between African and Australian wildlife, mainly he thought, “Because we have a different climate a lot of things are different, most species or living organisms here are also different and the animals are very small.”
Tristram Fyfe, a 17-year-old Pulteney Grammar School student, said his visit to Zambia was “amazing and life changing,” adding that “I was probably contemplating a future in mining or petroleum engineering before I went, now I’m more keen to go into computer systems and put a conservation twist into it for data collection and to help to reduce poaching.”
Tristram thinks the exchange program should be scheduled more frequently “More students should have experiences like this so they can help spread the word about conservation and help to prevent us from becoming detached from our environment. Seeing the connection the Zambians have with their land and surroundings is amazing,” he said.
Pulteney Grammar School teacher and coordinator of the exchange program Christina Jarvis said the program had taken two years to develop but was worth all the effort. Students from both schools had benefitted from their hosted trips.
“Our students saw a beautiful country and a beautiful continent, they saw animals which are I think the most extraordinary animals in the world but they also saw and understood that when people are living in poverty it’s hard to be a good conservationist,” she said “Both schools would like to see a continuity of the program but it does all depend on sponsorship. We really need some financial support to help get the Zambian kids here because it is a really expensive exercise, and difficult for them to raise that much money. Unfortunately it’s a lot harder for them than for us.”
As these Zambian students are the future decision makers, safari guides, scientists, farmers and community leaders of their country, SALT Magazine appeals to conservation and environment protection agencies in Australia to contribute and help to preserve this program which benefits not only the schools and students involved, but also raises the profile of international conservation efforts throughout the world.
For further information on the program visit www.chipembele.org