World Nature Conservation Day is celebrated all over the world on the 28 July every year. Leopard Ecology & Conservation joined the rest of the world by commemorating it on the 27thof July at the Kaudwane Kgotla (traditional Setswana meeting place). The day’s theme was centered on increasing awareness about the protection of natural resources that the earth has bestowed upon us at community level.
Kaudwane, a village located approximately 5 kilometers from the Khutse Game Reserve is located in the Kweneng District of Botswana. As a conservation organization we saw it fit to bring different stakeholders and the community to commemorate such an important day.
One striking but yet sobering statement stated by Mr. Lebotse of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks was that, if we do not take care of the environment, it will reject us! Whatever we do comes back to us. Many examples were given that resonated the same message. If you poison an animal to kill predators, in turn what will actually eat the animal might be your dog which then regurgitates that food that then gets picked up by chickens that a farmer will actually end up eating. It was quite a scary picture that rattled the audience, but indeed it was necessary. Mr. Lebotse pleaded with the community to hand in banned poisons in order to lead to a reduction in the negative impacts of poison, being the contamination of the environment and its inhabitants.
Mr. Neo-Mahupeleng of Botswana University of Agriculture and National Resources delivered a presentation on how the community can co-exist with free ranging carnivores with less conflict. Upon his observation he noted that on his drive to Kaudwane there was a lot of livestock along the road which highlighted one of the things that the community could do better. Livestock that is herded reduces the chance of predation. He noted that in his village herding was held in very high regard and that predation on livestock was very low.
Miss. Matlhogela from the DWNP Parks division spoke about reporting procedures, how to preserve exhibitions when an animal has been killed by a predator. She highlighted that within 7 days of an animal being killed, it should be reported to them.
A solar cooking demonstration was presented to the community to showcase its use and positive impact to the environment. The community was quite intrigued by the solar cooker. They were given the opportunity to taste the cakes that were cooked with the solar cooker and they were quite excited to taste it but also astonished that the solar cooker could cook with the sun.
Towards the end of the event we held a conservation raffle for the adults and a conservation treasure hunt for the children. The conservation raffle afforded the adults the opportunity to win solar lanterns, two lanterns were up for grabs. In the beginning the tickets that were picked did not yield any winners, but eventually after much anticipation, one winner emerged after another.
For conservation to be truly effective, it is to be started at grass root levels. Eight cardboard items were hidden around the vicinity for the children to find and whoever got it, won two lolly pops. Each cardboard item had a word that reflected what nature gives us. Each child was asked to say something about the word that was on their cardboard item. This activity was fun, but also educational in the sense that they got to get an appreciation of what the environment does for them.
World Nature Conservation Day was quite an eventful day. It is always good to celebrate and recognize the critical part that nature does to sustain us. If we do not take care of our environment it will surely reject us! It is our hope that all participants learnt valuable lessons that they will in turn carry out in their daily lives.