Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Thornhill kids aid vultures … the patient birds

Please for the conservation of the vulture bird species by Birdlife Botswana have reached tumultuous levels. 

The Non-governmental organisation’s campaigns on the subject have for a while been taken to both public and private schools.

Its Director, Dr Kabelo Senyatso, had reason to smile and take a few moments to address both parents, teachers and pupils at Thornhill Primary School during morning assembly on the subject this past Wednesday. 

He and his team’s visit to the school earlier this year had paid dividends as the institution’s fundraising efforts accumulated some P20 000 which was presented to Head teacher Ivor Greaves and a Standard 7 pupil that morning. 

“We raise funds in this school and some of it is given to society. The Standard 7s managed to raise something for Birdlife Botswana. Here is cheque for P20 000,” said Greaves, to a deafening round of applause. 

Prior to the assembly, Standard 7 teacher at the school, Elizabeth Schaerer, expressed pleasure over the fact that she had come to realise that the issue of conserving the vulture species is not only environmental, but also has human health aspect.

“I have learnt a lot about these from my son. He told me he is concerned that people’s focus, including those of decision-makers is on the big animals such as elephants and rhinos’ poisoning, while a lot of damage is done as lots of vultures get affected. 

“The role that these species play is thus handicapped and human beings end up affected,” she said in an interview.

Apparently, India in Asia is forced to pay billions of Dollars to deal with rabies and other animal problems in the country. Decision makers there ignored poisoning of vultures until they got extinct. This meant that the carcasses of dying animals had no cleaning agent. Dogs took over the role; bringing with them the rabies problem.

She explained that the school raised funds through events such as discos where and having pupils dressed in a special way where sponsors are invited to contribute. They also have family fun days. The donated funds by the Std 7s were raised in a period of two years. 

They do not have environmental education as a subject. Both agriculture and environment are covered in the science subject.

Indeed, the campaign against vultures poisoning has imparted lots of knowledge on the young people. Some are determined to partake in the campaign.  In a brief interview, a Std 7 pupil, 13-year-old Jack Tuffek said: “I know vultures to be wonderful birds that clean the environment by eating carcasses of dead animals. They also help rangers by warning them of any animal deaths that occur in protected areas. I am looking forward to helping in the conservation of vultures in a huge way. ”

Senyatso, said the money would be used on educating various members of the society, including the farmers. He and his team look forward to involving young people from schools such as Thornhill in the campaign to ensure they get information hands-on; visiting areas where there are incidences of poisoning.  

The school on that day handed out cheques to other organisations such as Cheetah Conservation and the Down Syndrome Society who got P10 000 and P5 000 respectively.


Read this week's paper