Although the group of thirteen taking part in the challenge ride were briefed over breakfast, none of them guessed who they would meet that morning.
The beautiful snake, a rescued Burmese python, is an impressive teaching aid at the Lapalala Wilderness School. We saw how local teenagers reacted to reptiles during an outdoor seminar on nature conservation.
The students, who came from Metshesethela Secondary School in Vaalwater, were being taught about the importance of protecting South Africa’s wildlife and the environment.
Their 3-day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School was sponsored by The Waterberg Trust. The riders explained how funds were being raised in the UK and Australia.
Two of the pupils delivered a carefully written speech of thanks, saying how the course keyed in with their school curriculum. None of them had been to the eco-school before.
TWT riders were able to met the staff, some of whom had originally come to Lapalala as school children themselves. The eight educators do a wonderful job of inspiring others and run a Youth Development Programme, which entails taking promising individuals from disadvantaged communities and attempting to bring hope and direction to their lives.
Learning about the history of the school, now it its 31st year, was fascinating. Many confirm that attending a course here was a life-changing experience.
To promote an appreciation and respect for the extrordinary diversity of Africa’s natural world and to develop and encourage a passion and commitment to conserve nature and ecological processes, where possible identifying and nurturing the conservation champions of the future.
The Lapalala Wilderness School does this through a schools’ programme and by reaching out into the surrounding area through broader youth and community projects. The staff are supported by a Board of Directors, several of whom have an active role in activities.
The plight of both black and white rhino is brought to the attention of students and those visiting the Interpretative Centre at the school where the skulls of poached rhino are on display.
As the learners put on life-jackets and went to experience paddling a small boat deep in the African bush,
TWT riders were given a tour of the school and its vegetable garden by the director, Mashudu Makhoka, who briefed us on their exciting plans for the future.
It was evident that by teaching children to recyle, conserve water and plant food, the Wilderness School’s community projects are a huge force for the good in South Africa today.
This March, The Waterberg Trust is sponsoring approximately 60 children and their teachers from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater to attend a 3-day course at the school. This video shows how they will be impacted:
We enjoyed meeting both the pupils, educators and the python, and would like to extend our thanks to Lapalala Wilderness for accommodating both riders and horses.
~ TWT Trustee Sophie Neville with students from Metshesethela Secondarary School ~