ENGAGEMENT AND AWARENESS-RAISING
With unique habitats and plentiful wildlife, our engagement and awareness activities aim to instill a feeling of pride in Batswana for the unique environment that they have in their backyards. Engagement and Awareness-Raising underpins all of our activities at CCB and this department works closely to foster effective engagement with farmers, community members and students to help find solutions to the threats faced by cheetahs and to help us come up with workable strategies to combat human-wildlife conflict. Activities and resources produced by CCB are a collaborative effort between scientific research and community engagement, combining all factors to produce useful tools to combat farmer-cheetah conflict. To peruse some of the resources we have for farmers, students and communities at large, please visit the Resources section of our website.
CCB’s education department conducts educational bush camps at our Tiisano Education Centre at our Ghanzi field base. During these four-day camps, children and adult groups get immersed in experiential learning where they get to live and breath the bush and learn to love and appreciate Botswana's environment and carnivores. The tented camp accommodates groups of up to 60 individuals and as well as classrooms and dining areas, hosts a pool, playground and sports facilities. At CCB bush camps, participants are exposed to a range of important environmental ideas through lectures, bush walks, activities and fun games.
CCB’s education program regularly visits schools throughout the country to give presentations, facilitate discussions with students, play fun games, and distribute education materials. Our core messages include how we are all connected in the ecosystem, how we can all be environmentally friendly and in particular, the roles that cheetahs play in the ecosystem and how we can coexist with cheetahs and other wildlife. Each school visited receives a package of educational resources, including posters, books, activity guides and Spirit of the Kalahari DVD.
To celebrate International Cheetah Day (4th December) we run a school competition at the end of each year. Topics for the competitions vary from year to year, with sports competitions, painting competitions, essay competitions and sticker design competitions occurring in past years. This year we hope to get the students designing artwork to accompany a children's book about living alongside cheetahs.
Learn to Play Community Playgroup
Our community playgroup was initiated in the village of Kacgae following the community's plea for us to help fill a need for early childhood education opportunities in their village. Partnering with "Learn to Play" from Gaborone, the playgroup was opened in February 2020 and continues strong to this day. Currently, 36 students aged 2-5 are enrolled in the playgroup, and we had five students "graduate" from the playgroup to Standard (Grade) 1 in November 2020. Run by "mamas" from within the community itself, the playgroup provides an environmental-themed curriculum for children growing up in the pristine habitats of the western Kalahari.
"Xabe: The Cheetah Hero" Storybook Production
In 2019, two of our staff, Goabaone Britz Malepe and Katlego K. Kolanyane-Kesupile created a story of wonder and bravery. The story of Xabe: The Cheetah Hero. Set in the village of Qabo, a young boy with a disability encounters a poacher trying to catch cheetahs in the bush. Using this exciting story as inspiration, we asked students from around Botswana to illustrate scenes from the book. The subsequent art challenge, conducted for International Cheetah Day in December 2019 and again during lockdown in May 2020, yielded artwork from across the country. The winning artwork was used to inspire the illustrations in the book, which was delivered to the winners and their schools in November 2020. Copies of Xabe: The Cheetah Hero, which is printed in both English and Setswana, are now being printed to supply every primary and junior school in Botswana with their own copies. We hope this tale will inspire students in Botswana to stand up and protect wildlife and the environment.
Engaging with Target Communities
Each year our staff attend a variety of commemoration days and events to open up dialogue with the people of Botswana. If you live in Botswana, keep an eye out for us at the next Ghanzi Agricultural Show or National Agricultural Show and come and visit our stall to learn more about how you can live peacefully alongside carnivores. We also run competitions at each show and distribute free resources to encourage people to learn about cheetahs and the environment.
Getting the Word Out
Not everyone is aware of the plight of cheetahs, so we do our best to raise awareness in as many forms as possible. If you live in Botswana, you can read about our work in our regular column in the Botswana Farmers Magazine, hear us on RB1 or RB2 or see us regularly on BTV. For our international followers, you can also keep up to date with our work on Facebook and Instagram, as well as in the news section of this website or through our quarterly enewsletter which you can sign up for here.