Cross curricular program
School trips are one of the things school children look forward to during their school life and the experiences and memories from them are life changing. A school trip with its natural dynamic environment provides a learning venue that matches one’s natural inclination to know more about things, engages even those with short attention spans and puts the learning subject in context. In addition to the multitude of evidence, there is much anecdotal support about benefits of outdoor education experiences; teachers, for example, often speak of the improvement they have in relationships with students following a trip.
Recent studies have recognised the benefits of cross-curricular, out-of-the-classroom learning by using the environment as a tool to enrich the curriculum across subject areas. Academic fieldwork clearly enhances the teaching of science and geography, but other subjects such as history, art and design and citizenship can also be brought to life by high quality educational visits. Group activities, which may include adventurous expeditions and activities that teach students to deal with an element of risk can develop social skills and give self-confidence.
African Insight has been actively providing services in this field to international academic groups for over 20 years and in 2013 was awarded an exclusive concession to develop a range of wildlife experiences that add to financial sustainability of the reserve as well as aiding in the collection of vital scientific data required to assist the reserves management with decision-making processes.
African Insight Academy in collaboration with key educators has formulated a tailor made, cross curricular programme using community owned, big five, Somkhanda Game Reserve as an exciting venue for learning to take place. Led by our expert guides, students are able to get involved in the reserve’s wildlife and vegetation monitoring programmes.
All research and monitoring will contribute to the reserve’s baseline data collection as well as inform ongoing conservation and biodiversity management of the reserve.
Depending on the number of days available and the group demographics the following activities can be integrated into the programme:
Camera Trap Surveying
The objective of the camera trap survey method is to monitor specific wildlife populations to assess their physical condition, the presence of off spring and associations between individuals as well as to develop “ID Kits” for individual leopards on Somkhanda. Students will accompany experienced monitors to check camera traps, changing batteries, downloading data and sorting through photographs.
Lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino monitoring are an ongoing project on Somkhanda, for biological and security reasons. Many of these animals have been fitted with radio tracking devices. Students will learn how to operate the equipment and accompany monitors into the field. Information gathered includes: general health, associations with other animals and off spring, movement, home range plotting, feeding preferences etc.
Game Population Monitoring
Estimating game numbers on a reserve like Somkhanda can prove challenging – the roads are very rough and difficult to traverse; the vegetation is dense in many places and the topography is very hilly. Aerial game counts are expensive and, in this terrain and habitat, is limited to the megaherbivores. For management purposes a more detailed census is required that gives an indication of age and sex ratios. For these conditions road transect counts are very useful. Students are taught the technique and assist with carrying out a transect which is statistically analyzed.
Invertebrate Sampling and Collecting
Somkhanda aims not only to conserve rare and vulnerable game species, but also habitats and ecosystems. Invertebrates form a critical component of any ecosystem and to this end, in addition to a herbarium, Somkhanda management would like to begin assembling an invertebrate collection for the reserve with the aim of compiling an inventory. For this exercise, students will be given an overview of the different orders of invertebrates that could possibly be encountered, and will then be asked to trap/collect specimens each from different orders. Insects will need to be killed, set and pinned, identified and labeled, and stored for inclusion in a reserve collection at a later date.
Community Cattle Dipping
Sustainable conservation on Somkhanda integrates the protected area management as well as the social and economic needs of the surrounding community. Cattle play a critical role in traditional Zulu society and ensuring their health and wellbeing improves inter-calving period and milk production resulting in healthier more productive animals. Each week we dip up to 500 cattle. This relationship has opened up the community to numerous opportunities for cultural exchange.
Early Childhood Development
The research around the world has shown that the best way to break the poverty cycle is through education. Building sustainable ECD programmes that are appropriate for the economically disadvantaged community surrounding Somkhanda Game Reserve is a challenge. If we provide purchased educational toys, who would replace them if they got lost or broken? And how would we get these toys into all the homes of the children who really need them? The Singakwenza approach is to use resources made solely from recycling to help caregivers provide fun, educational activities that enable young children to learn through play.
This programme teaches parents, educators and community workers about the importance of learning through play (as opposed to rote learning and meaningless repetition, which is what is currently the norm in so many early learning centres). Students can learn and then teach community members how easy it is to provide fun activities for their children so that they can develop vital educational foundations.
Authentic Cultural Experience
African Insight has trained a group of community members to host groups overnight or for a day. This programme exposes students to an authentic cultural experience that is invaluable in building bridges between cultures and developing citizenship skills and insights. Through this programme the value of traditional art and craft skills are encouraged by involving students in learning the skills and buying traditional souvenirs.
The management of the reserve involves a wide range of skills. In this practical activity students get to learn about the causes and effects of erosion, bush encroachment, alien invasive plants and how these impact on biodiversity, water and overall productivity of the reserve and how these can be treated and mitigated against.
Being able to operate in the bush requires a number of skills that are based on geography, science and biology. In this programme we involve students in map reading, orienteering, identification of animals, plants, tracks, dung as well as the basics of ecology, the importance of biodiversity and a practical understanding of the night skies. A sleep out with night watch shifts teaches students practical skills as well as taking responsibility for safety as well the importance of team work.
Cross Curricular Connections
Bush skills such as spoor and dung identification, tracking, traditional and medicinal uses of common plants and animals, identification of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as the various research, monitoring, cattle dipping activities connect with Biology curriculum. Map reading, orienteering, conservation management and night skies have roots in Geography.
Community experiences and projects such as early childhood development where students will make toys from recycled items, play educational games and read English books learn traditional crafts and hut building/maintenance are valuable in terms of Life Orientation, Arts & Culture, Technology and the English curricular.
On Somkhanda our base camp is a traditional tented safari camp supplied with running water communal showers and toilets. One of the nights is usually spent at a sleep out spot in the bush where group participation is required collecting firewood and preparing that night’s meal. There is also the option of spending a night in a traditional Zulu home stay.
Clothing and Kit
Practical working clothes, a comfortable pair of walking shoes are essential and we will provide you with a comprehensive kit list for this experience.
|INCLUDES: · Accommodation as specified on a shared basis · Guides / facilitators based on 1 x guide per 10 paying students & 2 field guides on bush rotations · All meals · Entrance fees · Activities as per itinerary · First Aid Kits · Medical Evacuation in case of emergency · Camping equipment & bedding where camping||EXCLUDES: · Refreshments · Items of a personal nature · All Flights & transport · Backpacks & Water bottles · Travel Insurance|
NOTE: TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY
African Insight is able to transport up to 30 passengers in our Quantums & Transporter at a cost of R500 p/person, should this be required.