This year, The Waterberg Trust enabled 59 students and two teachers from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa about 3 hours due north of Pretoria.
The group travelled north into the Africa bush on a bus also funded by TWT so that no one was excluded by the cost of transport.
Since other pupils from Meetsetshehla had been on the environmental course on previous years, everyone was expectant, eager to grasp the opportunity to learn about ecology and nature conservation.
After a course on snakes and the value of all creatures in balanced eco-systems there was a module on plastic pollution and re-cycling. Everyone learned how they can make a difference and improve the environment, allowing wildlife to thrive.
Students donned life-jackets to examine aquatic organisms and try swimming in the Palala River, which runs in front of the eco-school.
This was a new experience for most and proved an opportunity to learn about physics.
Teamwork proved essential when constructing a raft and negotiating the river.
Leadership training has always been recognised as an important life-skill at Lapalala Wilderness. It will be interesting to see if any of these young people take up a career in wildlife conservation or management of natural resources.
Learners were set a number of different challenges during the course of the week.
There were a range of outdoor activities that tested pupils in a variety of ways.
The obstacle course in the African bush was enjoyed by one and all
including the teachers accompanying the teenagers who found themselves wearing many hats.
It proved an unforgettable, life-changing experience. To read more about previous visits to Laplala Wilderness School, funded by TWT and watch a short film, please click here.
If you would like to sponsor children of the Waterberg to go on a 5 day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness, please contact us using the comments blow or find details here.
The environmental consulting company Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS), based in Gauteng, has made the astonishing gift of a vegetable garden to aid sister Grace in her work teaching life orientation skills at Meetsetshehla Secondary School at Vaalwater in the Waterberg.
Andrew Smith and his team of twenty environmental scientists wanted to contribute to the work of The Waterberg Trust by making a gift of their know-how before spending a weekend in the African bush.
We never guessed that they would arrive with 33 bags of compost.
The staff and pupils gratefully accepted trays of lettuce, spinach, beetroot and onion seedlings as well as a variety of much-needed seeds. ‘I was speechless,’ Nurse Grace said. It was an answer to prayer. They even brought seed markers.
EIMS also donated garden netting, watering cans, tools and ordered treated poles from a local supplier so that pupils could erect shade-netting to protect the seedlings from birds and drying out in the sun.
The team from Environmental Impact Management Services also bought a year-planner and books that provide information and advice on when to plant and how to gain optimum productivity. Nurse Grace said, ‘We learnt a lot about keeping vegetables healthy and effective planting methods.’
School exams were in progress but the team were able to meet some of the pupils and explain how best to sustain the vegetable garden established by Nurse Grace a year ago. While Meetsstshehla has been acknowledged as a leading Green School in the Limpopo Province, nurse Grace plans to share the vision with other schools that she visits in the Waterberg.
Nurse Grace had time to discuss other plans for the community. Environmental Impact services are generously donating 95 packs of washable sanitary pads so that all the Grade 8 school girls can participate fully in school activities. A team from Dignity Dreams in Pretoria will come to instruct both boys and girls on menstrual health when exams finish.
~Explaining to guests about our green school project~
~Showing EIMS part of the garden and how we make compost manure from waste~
If you would like to make a donation towards the creation of a school vegetable garden in the Waterberg or towards multi-use sanitary pads for pupils please click here detailing your wishes. Sets of sanitary packs cost R220 and last for approx 48 months. We are hoping to raise enough money for all the school girls in the Waterberg to be kitted out.
The Waterberg Trust instigated the role of School Nurse to minister to the young people and children of Vaalwater in the Waterberg, South Africa in 2018.
-A pupil with Sister Grace, using an examination couch donated by Dr Albert Poitier-
Nursing Sister Grace Ismail is the first school nurse assigned to state schools in the Limpopo Province. She is based at Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater where she is in the ideal position to help the emerging generation face the HIV/Aids pandemic and cope with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse in the township of Leseding.
-Tree-planting with students-
‘500 learners were reached in class this term and offered different healthy topics ranging from hygiene, infection control in schools and HIV/TB prevention.’
-Sister Grace working with the Life Orientation Teacher at Leseding Secondary School-
Sister Grace has also been working with Life Orientation teachers and Community Workers at the schools, getting pupils keen on growing vegetables and planting trees. This encourages everyone to look to the future and care for their environment.
-Growing fresh vegetables-
‘Some learners have psychological trauma and can’t concentrate in class due to dysfunctional families and lack of support.‘ Others have nutritional needs.
Nurse Grace initiated a re-cycling project to generate funds to provide learners with sanitary products so they do not miss school. She gives counselling and careers guidance as well as providing First Aid.
While Dr Peter Farrant of the Northern Education Trust oversees the nursing work, The Waterberg Trust provide this NGO with a grant to pay for Sister Graces salary.
-Sister Grace with the Community Workers programme-
If you could make a donation or monthly contribution to support the school nurse’s life-changing work, please click here for details on TWT’s Donate Page.
-Sister Grace at work in schools in the Waterberg, Limpopo Province, South Africa-
In February 2018, The Waterberg Trust enabled 60 local teenagers from Leseding Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course on environmental awareness at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.
The students were given a grounding in nature conservation and experienced the beauty and importance of South African wildlife.
This python was very much alive as was the chameleon that the young people also handled.
The idea was to take away fear of culturally reviled animals and teach students how to handle reptiles and creepy crawlies they might encounter. When they return to the township of Leseding, the teenagers are given a mentor who they can text if they find a snake in the house or hear of worrying wildlife issues.
Everyone enjoyed the obstacle course in the African bush and learnt how to use maps in a wilderness situation.
One day they donned PFD life-jackets to experience what it would be like to swim in the Palala River. It was a great way to cool off after a hot day in the African bush.
One exercise was to build a raft and get out on the water, which was an eye-opener for many. Mr Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School said, ‘Raft building is one of the activities that enhance teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.’
The pupils also studied wildlife in the river system and learnt more about water. ‘They learnt to identify various kinds of aquatic animals – and the basics of how to use SASS (South African Scoring System) – which uses the presence/absence of a variety of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gauge the health of riverine ecosystem.’
Co-operation, team-building and leadership training were important parts of the course. ‘Students discovered that good teamwork is essential.’
However, recycling, eco-systems, the environment and the significance of South African wildlife was at the core of this inspirational week that ties in with the school curriculum and gives the teenagers a grounding for life.
You can see the students here on an interpretive hike that gave them an opportunity to learn basic ecology and gain a changed attitude towards biodiversity.
Could you help raise funds to enable more local children to go on this residential course? It only costs R380 per person a day (about £24) so is exceptionally good value. All food and dormitory accommodation is included. The Waterberg Trust like to provide the cost of transport from the township of Leseding, to ensure that no one is excluded for economic reasons.
Thanks go to those who took part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017, who raised enough money for these 60 pupils and two of their teachers to enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Hopefully some of these young people will consider a career in nature conservation, tourism or teaching in the Waterberg.
Trustees of The Waterberg Trust took TWT Riders to Lapalala Wilderness School in January, when they enjoyed meeting the staff and learning about new projects.
You can read more about Lapalala Wilderness School here and watch this video made for their 30th Anniversary. It’s fun:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Lapalala Wilderness School is immensely grateful for the assistance that The Waterberg Trust has given. This support has enabled 60 children and two adults to attend an environmental education course in 2018. We hope that with ongoing support from TWT, we can continue to bring young people to LWS and awaken in them a love for the environment and a commitment to conserving it.
The riders’ drew on their experience and fitness on the third day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, when we covered a more than 37 kilometers riding from Ant’s Nest to Kwalata Game Reserve on the Blocklands River.
We made up a big group of thirteen horseman with three guides and set off early in an attempt to find wildlife.
It was white rhino that we saw first, including one cow with a three month-old calf.
We were able to get very close as the horses are used to grazing with rhino.
We then rode west through the bushveldt and although we cantered at times,
we went slowly in an attempt to find game, pausing to watch wildebeest and zebra.
After a while we came across Livingstone eland, a rare breed originating from Zimbabwe.
We crossed through recently filled dams
and came across a number of new-born animals, including impala lambs.
Once on the top of the escarpment, at some 1,400 metres above sea level, we found a breeding herd of buffalo – the bull looking at us from behind a clump of dense bush.
He was with a number of females.
We were also shown a breeding herd of rare roan antelope being re-introduced to the Waterberg.
We then left Ant’s game reserve and enjoyed riding fast down sandy roads across the plateau
and down towards the Blocklands River that flows north into the Limpopo
The horses were fed and watered in a secure boma originally made for buffalo while the riders were housed at the lodge in cottages that looked out over the water.
Everyone was able to kick off their boots and relax after what had been a long day in the saddle.
To our relief, there were bathrooms and a swimming pool to sooth aching muscles.
And even a stuffed crocodile – luckily the only one of his species we encountered on the ride.
To keep up with news and events of The Waterberg Trust please see our Facebook page
Multi award-winning filmmaker Alastair Fothergill, who’s produced most of the landmark natural history series presented by Sir David Attenborough, along with five feature films for DisneyNature, flew from Los Angeles to speak at our charity fundraising event in Yorkshire hosted by TWT rider Juliet Maddan and her amazing team.
Every penny raised by the talk went go straight to The Waterberg Trust who have a cost-effective way of sending it to projects in South Africa.
Sponsorship was found for the drinks reception held before the talk when TWT riders served wine and canapes
This enabled people to meet Alastair and learn about projects in the Waterberg
The Yorkshire Party Company supplied delicious things to eat, while others kindly donated wine. Asygarth School gave the use of their auditorium and facilities free of charge.
Juliet Maddan saw everyone was settled in their seats
before Alastair’s multi-media talk on his series ‘The Hunt’ made for BBC Television.
It featured animal behaviour never before captured on film.
We also learnt quite a bit about how the sequences were made.
A couple of questions from the audience were taken after the talk.
A fundraising raffle run by Jolenta Henderson was drawn for a case of proseco donated by Edward Theakston, Alastair’s book, an Elfinglen tray and other lovely prizes.
TWT rider Mairi Hunt painted two watercolours of rhino for the event, one of which is depicted on this special limited edition Elfinglen tray, now available for £100
To buy one of these large handmade trays made in aid of The Waterberg Trust please contact Elfinglen by clicking here.
Limited edition bird trays are also for sale for £100 each
A sculpture of a rhino with her baby by Unity Heald was sold in a secret auction.
Very many thanks to all who supported this memorable event
Here are some of the film clips Alastair showed us:
The dream of riding through the game reserves of South Africa became a reality for twelve British riders this March when they took up the challenge of raising £1,000 each for Save The Waterberg Rhino and local community projects.
The team was made up of experienced riders
and, being led by Ant Baber,
the pace was fast whenever the terrain allowed.
The idea was to traverse 175kms of remote country
while taking the opportunity to learn about rhino conservation
and discover more about the Waterberg. For further detail and more photos of this ride, please see subsequent posts.
The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016 proved a great success!
Riders saw rhino from horseback and got very close to white rhino feeding.
They received a talk on the threat posed by poaching,
and were led over the hills of the Waterberg by Ant Baber to visit
Lapalala Wilderness School where local children come to learn about nature conservation.
We raised more than £18,000 for Save The Waterberg Rhino and community projects in the Wateberg. We were able to send 120 children on a residential course at Lapalala Wilderness and gave a grant to Letabo Kids Club for their ‘Back to School’ initiative in the township of Leseding.
Lapalala Wilderness School does such good work in promoting conservation in South Africa that it makes excellent subject matter for television.
The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016 has also been attracting quite a bit of on-line media coverage. Please click on these links to see:
and we have had a report on the 2015 Challenge Ride in Arabian Online written by Kate Williams.
Sophie Neville has had a news article published in the Lymington Times
This coverage is wonderful as we want to raise funds to send 100 children on a eco-course at the Lapalala Wilderness School and support Save The Waterberg Rhino, raising awareness for conservation as we do so.
How you can support The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride:
Follow the projects on Facebook:
The Waterberg Trust on Facebook
Lapalala Wilderness School on Facebook
Learning about reptiles