Education – The Key to Connecting with the Natural World

Tuesday 25 June 2019

In May this year, Helping Rhinos reported on a UN report, which highlighted the devastating impact humans have on the Earth's ecosystems and habitats. The report revealed that one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction. This poses a serious threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their livelihood and survival.

It is therefore essential that we continue to educate future generations about our world and how to live in it sustainably. Education is one of Helping Rhinos' Seven Saviours, and we are keen to ensure that future generations gain insight into the importance of rhinos and conservation. Conservation education is about empowerment. It enables people to understand the importance of the natural resources around them and work towards sustaining these resources so that their futures are economically stable and healthy.

Helping Rhinos work with schools and children within the UK and, with the help of our overseas partner projects, in communities surrounding rhino habitats as part of our Rhinocation Programme. We provide education resources for use in schools and programmes established to engage with the local adult populations. These programmes cover all conservation issues: anti-poaching, habitat loss, welfare of domestic animals, and management of water sources.

Future goals include setting up international education programmes and implementing demand reduction campaigns in countries known for high usage of rhino horn such as Vietnam.

Education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world - Nelson Mandela

"Thanks very much for visiting our school today. We are very pleased that the students here have elected to make Helping Rhinos one of our RAG Week charities for 2019. The students still talk about James and Simons' visit as it really impacted them." Ruislip High School students pictured with James.

Rhinocation in the UK:

This year has been a particularly productive and busy one for our Rhinocation project. In April 2019, northern white rhino caregiver James Mwenda, from our project partner Ol Pejeta Conservancy, visited the UK to speak at our spring event in London. During his stay, he went on a whirlwind tour of schools across the country sharing his enthusiasm and love for animals and conservation. He told students that his goal was to ensure that the rhino must never become extinct and that we must all look after all animals.

His passionate and informative talk inspired many of the students prompting fundraising ideas.

"I have been meaning to email you and let you know how amazing James and Simon's talk was! I also haven't seen so many questions being asked by our students - I think we could have kept going for the whole afternoon! It was great that our Helping Rhinos ambassadors also got the chance to meet James and Simon and start thinking about fundraising activities." Haysbrook School, Kent.

Thank you to all the schools for hosting Helping Rhinos and James Mwenda.

Following on from James' visit, our Helping Rhinos team members have been out and about talking to schools.

Tracey Taylor, Education Officer for Helping Rhinos, spoke to students, parents and staff at Reading Blue Coat School about the crisis facing the world's rhinos. She is pictured with head of school Ollie, who wants to pursue a career in animal conservation. The school held a mufti (non-school uniform) day to raise money for several charities and we were delighted to receive a cheque for £200 from them, as a contribution to our fundraising. Thank you to Reading Blue Coat School for their support.

Bedford School

"Many thanks indeed for coming in today. It was a truly inspirational assembly, and the boys were very lucky indeed to get to hear from you, and James in particular. He is a quietly impressive man, and it was a privilege for us to hear him speak." James is pictured with Simon Jones and Liz Simmonds from Helping Rhinos and Mr Ian Silk, Head of Bedford Preparatory School

Bedford School

On the 5th June, team member Liz Simmonds visited Bedford School to talk to students about rhinos. A group of 11 and 12 year old boys gave a class assembly to the school about rhino conservation, and one of the boys, Josh Lincoln (pictured below with Liz), has set up a tuck shop every Wednesday to raise money for Helping Rhinos. Thank you to Bedford School for their support.

The Helping Rhinos Education Team will also be on a stand at Ruislip High School during the school rag week at the end of June, raising awareness and answering questions.

The Education team at Helping Rhinos continues to get a number of requests for help with school projects on rhinos and interviews with school children researching endangered species. We are more than happy to visit schools to give illustrated talks, depending on locality. However, if a school is too far for us to visit, or is not in the U.K., then please do get in touch with any questions and our team will be happy to be interviewed on the phone or on Skype. We are working towards being able to do a virtual talk, which can be delivered globally. For example, we were recently interviewed by phone by a group of children from Southbank International School, who are putting on an end of year Assembly on rhinos for their peers and parents.

If you would like to find out more or organise a talk for your school this coming autumn, please visit our website for further information, or email our Education Officer, Tracey Taylor to establish the best way we can help you in your school

Rhinocation Abroad:

One of our Helping Rhinos supporters, Sharon Webb, recently went on a trip to Kenya as part of a two-week volunteer programme, rebuilding a local school and to work with the children in the community. Sharon very kindly took with her some of our Helping Rhinos Early Years education booklets for the children to enjoy. As you can see from the photo, the children thoroughly enjoyed her visit.

The booklets proved to be very popular and it would be great to get these out to as many schools as possible. We rely heavily on volunteers like Sharon to take the booklets out to the countries when visiting. The main problem is the lack of resources available locally to print them. Many of the schools do not have printers or photocopiers. This is something Helping Rhinos is keen to improve and develop in the coming months.

Our partner projects, The Black Mambas and Kariega Foundation both run education outreach programmes:

The Black Mambas Bush Babies programme, based in schools in communities surrounding the Balule Nature Reserve (Greater Kruger), works with children between the ages of 7 and 17. Over 2000 children across ten schools have been taught about the different behaviours of wildlife, of how to protect them, and have been given an introduction to ecology and conservation.

In communities near Kariega Game Reserve (Eastern Cape), Kareiga Foundation team members deliver environmental lessons at five primary schools and three high schools. These lessons include information on water conservation and drought, soil conservation and land degradation to help shine the light on the importance of wildlife conservation.

Bedford School

Rhinocation in african schools

Bedford School

Simon Jones and James Mwenda

Kareiga Game Reserve is the home to Thandi, the miracle rhino who survived a horrific poaching incident in 2012. Thandi went on to have three calves, the most recent, Mthetho was born in April this year. You can adopt Thandi and her family through Helping Rhinos. Funds raised from this will go directly to the education programmes above, as well as towards protecting Thandi and her growing family.

As you can see, Helping Rhinos is very passionate about the role education plays in conservation. With the right tools, the children of today may be able to improve the health of our environment in the future, and they may even get a start on it while they're still young. Education is one of the most vital tools they'll need to save the environment they depend on. Helping Rhinos is proud to be part of this ongoing work.