Re-establishing uMkhuze’s Environmental Education Camp

Re-establishing uMkhuze’s Environmental Education Camp

Conserv Earth has committed to assisting Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) with the provision of equipment and funding of camp expenses such as travel and food for the uMkhuze section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Environmental Education Camp.

uMkhuze is a 34 000 ha protected area situated on the coastal plain, east of the Lebombo Mountains in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal. The protected area forms a part of the World Heritage Site proclaimed by UNESCO and is home to the Big 5 as well as African wild dogs and cheetah. “uMkhuze Game Reserve is also well known as one of the founding populations for black rhino, post the massive decline of the species to 110 individuals in just two populations. It also provides habitat for nesting vultures and pink backed pelicans. (Brigitte Church, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Park Ecologist 2022).

The uMkhuze Environmental Camp was opened in 1996. It operated for 20 years before it was closed due to operational issues in 2016. The main purpose of the camp is to implement an outreach programme whereby neighbouring community members are afforded the opportunity to come and stay in the park to develop an understanding of the importance of formal conservation through a structured environmental education programme. 

uMkhuze has 5 tribal communities on its periphery. As human populations on the outside of protected areas increase, the demand on natural resources increases too. This can result in increased human-wildlife conflict (Rodina, 2021). To minimise negative perceptions of protected areas, a critical aspect of conserving them is a good relationship between the protected area and its surrounding communities.

According to SANBI’s (The South African National Biodiversity Institute) Teacher Education Workbook for Environment and Sustainability Education “environmental education “emphasises that people are inseparable from the environments in which they live and make their living, and that we are affected when things go wrong in these environments, as are the other beings with which we share the Earth” (Rosenberg, 2009). 

The uMkhuze Environmental Education Camp programme takes a levelled approach to educating and instilling an interest in the environment and in conservation. The programme ensures that people of all ages in the community have the opportunity to attend an educational camp. While it is important to reach young children and young adults, it is just as beneficial to teach leaders and people who have a great influence over their communities such as the Traditional Council Leaderships and the Traditional Health Practitioners.

With Conserv Earth’s support for EKZNW’s planned camps in 2022, at least 260 people will have attended the uMkhuze Environmental Camp by the end of the year.

The expected outputs of this camp include:

  • Running at least 12 environmental camps per year.
  • Establishment of environmental clubs in neighbouring communities and schools.
  • Identification of potential candidates for further skills development programmes in conservation careers.
  • Strengthen traditional authority support.
  • Increased collaboration with other government departments (Education, SDD, Tourism).

Conserv Earth is proud to be supporting this fantastic Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife initiative. We look forward to sharing the camp’s progress with you.

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