Grade 6 pupils from Bloekombos Primary School spent a few days enjoying the fresh air and wide open spaces at Bracken Nature Reserve last week as part of the Biodiversity Month programmes it is running.
While part of the morning was spent sitting inside the activity hall, nature reserve intern Simphiwe Maseti, 23, who also lives in Bloekombos, gave them a lively presentation that got them close to nature.
Mr Maseti, who, judging by his easy and friendly manner, is a natural with children, says he draws on the surrounding ecosystems to see if they grasp the concept of biodiversity.
“In conservation it’s important to show that for biodiversity to exist, living organisms have to coexist with non-living organisms and to show where they meet and why they meet,” he said, after showing the children examples of each.
Fascinated, the children watched as he held up a metre-long snake skin (a taste of what the children would see later after the class when they spotted a real snake sunning itself on the grass outside) and then demonstrated how the plants, mountains, water and sun each play their role in perpetuating the cycle of life.
Tshepo Mamebola, area manager for the Bracken and Haasendal nature reserve cluster, said, “We have been extremely fortunate to get funding from Sub-council 2 – a grant in aid given to the Friends of Bracken which was used to sponsor buses to transport the children from Kraaifontein to the reserve.
“These are kids who would not have had the opportunity to go out to the reserve otherwise, and it’s good for them to see this on their own doorstep and experience first-hand what is happening here.”
And Mr Maseti, who is making a career out of the environment, showed the children there were other careers “out there”, she added.
“I think for these children this is wonderful. We can’t say we have changed their lives, but surely this will have some impact on them.”
After presenting drawings to show how they perceived living and non-living things in nature, the children were taken on a walk through the reserve and were shown some of its many wonders, including a tortoise making its way across a bumpy path. As the children walked up a hill to the view point at the top of the reseve, excitement and appreciation were written on their faces.