The cheetah is Africa’s most endangered large cat, with approximately only 10 000 left in the wild. The species is now threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat and prey, and human persecution through farming conflict and illegal trade. Moreover, populations are not safe within protected areas as these cats are often outcompeted by stronger predators.
The primary objectives of the project are to maintain – in co-existence with the local communities – viable populations of cheetah, as an integral part of the ecosystems of Botswana; to study the behaviours and habitat requirements of Botswana’s cheetah; to promote methods of livestock management and predator control which facilitate coexistence with predators, encouraging communities and government to integrate such methods into their farm management policies; to conduct education programmes aimed at building awareness among farmers, educators, students and the general public of the plight of cheetah and their role in healthy ecosystems. Overall, the aim is to encourage rural communities to manage their wildlife resources sustainably.
The objectives will be met by school visits, resource distribution (predator education books, posters and DVDs) and two-day residential teacher training workshops at a relevant facility in the region.
The primary aim of the community outreach component of this project is to investigate the population status and distribution of the predators on farmlands and the role of predator / livestock conflicts and methods of control utilised. This information helps in determining areas of high predator / livestock conflict and which methods communities are currently utilising, providing a vital insight into what actions need to be taken to facilitate coexistence. Site visits are made throughout Botswana to farms, cattle posts and villages. An interview survey is conducted at each site, detailing information on socio-economic factors, farm details, current management techniques, predator sightings, conflict incidences and community perceptions.
Information on effective farm/livestock management and non-lethal predator control is distributed to communities during all visits, workshops and via Farmers Associations and village networks. Workshops at relevant centres are scheduled monthly to bring farmers together to discuss techniques and methods. Training workshops are carried out for Problem Animal Control (PAC) officers of the Wildlife Department. As well as these larger workshops, a mobile workshop is taken into villages and outlying communities by community outreach officers. Teaching communities how to identify different predators and signs so that appropriate management methods can be implemented to decrease likelihood of conflict and facilitate coexistence.
Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) runs an Education Programme that aims to raise awareness for the importance of predators in healthy ecosystems, encourage good environmental stewardship and promote alternatives to existing in conflict with predator species. Aimed at schoolchildren and teachers throughout Botswana, it includes the following activities:
Teacher training workshops: Teachers are invited to a two-day residential workshop at a facility in the region i.e. Khama Rhino Sanctuary, Mokolodi Nature Reserve, Jwana Game Park. Here they are trained in using predator conservation as a learning tool in education. All teachers are provided with Teachers’ Resource Activity Guides and predator education resources.
School visits: Schools are visited by CCB educators who give presentations, talks, games and activities suited to different age groups and in line with Botswana education curriculum. Schools are provided with predator education resources including books, posters, DVDs and teachers’ resource books.
Visits to CCB sites: Local schools visit CCB’s project bases in Ghanzi, and Jwana Game Park. Schools visiting Mokolodi Nature Reserve also receive talks and materials.
Resource distribution: Predator education books, posters, Spirit of the Kalahari DVDs and teachers’ resource books are provided to all schools and teachers attending workshops. CCB also worked with the Ministry of Education to ensure the resources were relevant to the Botswana school curriculum.
December 2008: Educational Activities Completed since August 2008
School visits have been made to schools in Jwaneng, Mokhomma, Samane, Gasita, Lefhoko and Ghanzi communities. Presentations and activities were carried out and new education materials distributed.
Teacher Training Workshops
A teacher training workshop took place in Molepolole in November. It was attended by more than 50 teachers from the 4 inspectoral areas of the Kweneng region and was in part supported by the Ministry of Education. Teachers were trained in the use of predator conservation as a learning tool and provided with teaching resources.
Educational collaboration with People and Nature Trust, Ghanzi
Predator conservation activities were carried out for the People and Nature Trust youth group visits in August and November at Tiisa Kalahari in Ghanzi. An MOU was signed with People and Nature Trust on Sept 25th. At the Tiisa Kalahari facility, a programme of school visits, farmers’ workshops and teacher training is being planned for 2009.
The Livestock Guarding Dog prize giving event took place in Maun, in November. The competition was aimed as a way of empowering the farming community to employ non-lethal methods for preventing livestock loss to predators, particularly the effective use of properly trained livestock guarding dogs. Relevant stakeholders attended, including farmers’ associations, the Wildlife Department, the Veterinary Department, the local chiefs of the area and the media. The Minister of Ministry of Environment presented the prizes. The Education Coordinator attended the Association of Environmental Clubs of Botswana’s Annual Student Rally in Maun in August. A presentation was given and education books and resources were distributed.
The Ministry of Education’s Environmental Education workshop in Kanye was attended in September. A presentation was given on CCB’s teacher training workshops. The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme stakeholders’ workshop in Maun was attended in October. A presentation was given on predator conservation and the Spirit of the Kalahari DVD was distributed.
The Education Coordinator attended an Environmental Educators course in South Africa for two weeks in September. The course covered basic environmental education theory, basic environmental auditing and research, ecosystem study methodologies, fieldwork and trail interpretation skills, environmental education in rural contexts, resource application and development.
The Community Outreach Officer attended an Integrated Livestock Predator Management course which was held at CCF in Namibia. The course covered effective methods of non-lethal predator control, responsible land management and working with communities.
Wilderness Trust Support
Folders carrying educational materials have been produced and carry the Wilderness logo. These have been utilized during school visits, teacher training workshops and public events.