Last week, CCF worked with a group of 14 grade 12 students from the local Otjiwarongo Secondary School, who volunteered 32 hours (Monday – Thursday, 8 hours a day) of their time as part of a class on social responsibility. This group of inquisitive and enthusiastic students assisted CCF staff and interns with day to day tasks including, data entry, husbandry, gardening and pen/enclosure cleaning & maintenance. The tasks the students performed may seem small, but here at CCF we believe that if many people contribute in a small way, the impact on wild cheetah populations would be huge.
CCF staff also took the opportunity to educate the students and raise awareness on the work we do, and its importance. Living and going to school in the Cheetah Capital – just as charity begins at home, conservation also begins at home, and we hope that they can share the conservation message with their friends and family and therefore communities.
The students were very interested in the different departments, and inquired about career opportunities in genetics, ecology, veterinary and zoology, and how to go about being a vet, geneticist or ecologist. It is always motivating when young people show a lot of interest in the work we do here at CCF, and hopefully we have inspired and helped instil positive attitudes towards cheetah and other predators, as the future of wildlife conservation lies in the hands of our young people.
On the last day, students shared their experience with us through short presentations, and they expressed their believe in a world where cheetah and humans can co-exist. Some comments from their presentations below;
Education is key to the survival of the cheetah. Changing negative perceptions can be a daunting task, but when young students are open to ways in which conservation can be achieved, it is a step in the right direction. Baba Dioum once said,
“In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”
It is our responsibility to create that understanding that will lead to love and appreciation of wildlife, and ultimately conservation.
Students each received a certificate for their volunteerism, and we hope to see some of them back here in the not so distant future.