Educating the next generation about wildlife, the environment, and conservation is one of Bushlife’s key objectives. Collaborating with Zimparks and local school authorities, we have observed a significant increase in environmental knowledge in schools within boundary communities since the establishment of our conservation clubs years ago.

Leading with Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Our Community Liaison Officer, Sophia Maseba, is the glue of this ongoing project. She is a professional educator and plans to keep the coming generations of Zimbabwe excited and educated about wildlife. Her job is not only being a teacher herself, but also working with teachers throughout the country, creating lesson plans, making sure schools in different communities are delivering consistent information, and much more behind the scenes.

One of her bigger projects in 2024 was leading a tree-planting and environmental clean-up campaign; students have been learning about trees’ carbon absorption. A fully grown tree can control about 15 to 20 kg of carbon dioxide each year, so the goal is to plant many more trees to help mitigate the negative impacts of carbon on our climate.

Creative Activities within the Academic Program

Sophia develops engaging activities within the schools’ curricula. In 2023, Bushife Support Unit Manager Nkululeko “Freedom” Hlongwane and Sophia implemented wildlife quizzes, a way to challenge students on their comprehension and retention of local and global wildlife knowledge. Together with Zimparks, we hosted an interscholastic competition and awarded prizes to the top teams. More than 20 clubs were involved, and about 200 adults came and watched the proceedings. You can find some of the same quiz questions in our recent newsletters and test some of your knowledge as well. New learning programs have also incorporated other fun activities like watching wildlife documentaries in schools with a Q&A afterwards. Art has even become an encouraging medium for some of the students when it comes to expressing and admiring the beauty of protecting these animals. Keeping the curriculum engaging is important to keep younger generations interested in learning about and protecting the environment.

boy holding a painting
boy holding a painting of a girl
boy holding a painting of the lion

Goals and Strategies

Our education and awareness programs aim to cultivate a culture of conservation and empower community schools and members to value and protect their natural heritage. Sophia leads our conservation education program by delivering lessons on a wide range of environmental topics. For example, one recent term focused on seasonal wildlife migration, human-wildlife conflict management, and vegetation studies (botany). As of now, we are working with students in 24 schools in communities along the southern boundary of Mana Pools National Park in the Zambezi Valley.