Bridgestone South Africa

The Cape Leopard Trust teaches children about the environment

Nov 15, 2011
Elizabethfontein Grade 7 Group

Elizabethfontein Grade 7 Group

Rock Art

Rock Art

Art Exercise

Art Exercise

Fossil Find

Fossil Find

In addition to its world-renowned conservation programme, centred on the unique Cape mountain leopard, which includes the use of infra-red cameras and GPS radio-collars to monitor leopard movements, the Cape Leopard Trust is also dedicated to educating and encouraging the youth to have a vested interest in the environment.

The primary aim of the Cape Leopard Trust's Environmental Education Programme is to bring children and adults into contact with nature and, through personal experience, create a real interest in the natural environment and its conservation.

Mandy Lovell, Bridgestone South Africa's public relations manager, and Winnie Theron, admin manager at Bridgestone's Cape Town regional office, recently joined an education and outreach camp organised by the Cape Leopard Trust in partnership with Cape Nature in the Western Cape's beautiful Cederberg Mountains for Grade 7 learners from Elizabethfontein School.

"We wanted to experience the educational programme and see for ourselves the important work and dedicated efforts of the Cape Leopard Trust's Quinton and Elizabeth Martins" said Lovell.

On arrival at the camp, the children were given a talk by Elizabeth on the wilderness area. She spoke about safety and dangers and covered some ground rules as well as a brief programme outline for the next three days. Each child was given a Bridgestone cap and sunscreen before their outing.

"The afternoon was spent animal tracking and then we went on a visit to Stadsaal, to view rock art/formations and stone age tools. In the early evening the children sat around the fire in the camp telling stories of their day before preparing supper and retiring to their tents for the night.

The next day the children enjoyed a hike to the Wolfberg crack, which was quite a daunting trip but enjoyed by all. After some lunch and free time the afternoon art exercise took place among the beautiful fynbos of the Cederberg mountains. This was more of an observation exercise than an artist's exercise where the children studied the plants, its colours and leaves and form, and were encouraged to draw what they saw.

Later that evening at the campsite before supper there was a feedback session, after which some star gazing in the clear night skies revealed the wonders of the universe.

Early the next morning they went on a geological outing and did some fossil hunting. Some interesting things were found and discussed. Later, after packing up their tents and checking all their equipment, the children left, promising to be back next year. A great time was had by all and it was a most enlightening experience.

We stayed at a little cottage called Keurbosfontein, quite a drive from Ceres, along gravel roads with no cellphone reception or electricity. Gas and candles were used and the atmosphere was most relaxing and peaceful.

The night skies were clear and stars were easily visible. Being a part of this camp was most rewarding for us in that it allows you to go back to your childhood and experience the wonder of nature at its best. Being in the mountains is one of the most special places to be, enjoying wide open spaces, the beautiful scenery and the history of the area which is so vital to conserve for future generations.

"The importance of educating learners about nature and the conservation of the animals and plants is what Bridgestone wholeheartedly supports in our efforts to help ensure a healthy environment for present and future generations. The Bridgestone Group is committed to continually work towards a sustainable society with integrity and in unity with our customers, partners and the world around us."Lovell concluded.

"Our support of the Cape Leopard Trust is an integral component of our corporate social investment umbrella and Bridgestone's global One Team, One Planet initiative" explained Lovell.

They are doing important conservation work, while at the same time providing valuable learning opportunities, in particular to children, about the endangered Cape mountain leopard. Our support is in line with our commitment to conservation and the environment as embodied in our 4x4 Fundi programme.

The Cape Leopard Trust was formed in 2004 to facilitate the conservation of predators through the combination of conservation strategies, research projects, education and tourism initiatives. The Trust operates in wilderness areas in the Cederberg, Swartberg/Gamka corridor, Boland Mountains and Namaqualand areas.

The area of the leopard surveys, covering 10 000 square kilometres (or one million hectares), is one of the largest in the world and the Trust's 4x4s, all equipped with Bridgestone Dueler All terrain tyres, cover great distances over very rough terrain often accessible only by rocky jeep tracks.

Quinton Martins, project manager of the Cape Leopard Trust, comments: "Despite the adverse road conditions, we have had excellent performance from our Bridgestone tyres. We are very grateful to Bridgestone for their support, which comes from a company with a shared interest in educating young people about nature and the environment and encouraging them to care about what happens to it."

For further information on the Cape Leopard Trust, visit their website

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