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Interesting outfits on show during a fun-filled World Environment Day celebrated at
the Ndumo Game Reserve on Saturday, 4 June.
The Tshwane University of Technology’s Department of Nature Conservation is leading the way in caring for the environment, with the Ndumo Community Project in KwaZulu-Natal being one of its foremost such initiatives. In celebrating World Environment Day (5 June) learners, teachers and parents gathered at Ndumo on Saturday to learn about the importance of saving the environment and take valuable information home to their respective communities. 

Cheryl Ogilvie, lecturer at the Department, has been part of the project since 2000. “The project involves 20 schools surrounding the Ndumo Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park,” Cheryl said.

“Our mission is quite simple: We want to make a difference in, about, for and through the environment. We give learners (Grades 3, 7 and 8), teachers, izinduna and the surrounding community hands-on environmental experience, combined with fun. This valuable knowledge is crucial as they can use it to teach others who are not as informed about the importance of conserving our natural resources,” she indicated.

“We are working with 2 500 learners on a weekly basis and have eco-clubs. There are also sessions with izinduna as well as learners’ parents. Teachers are exposed to workshops where they learn how to integrate environmental education into their existing school syllabus,” she added.

Learners presented a fashion show accompanied by song and dance. They made amazing outfits from recycled materials and the message was clear: We need to be proactive and stop environmental destruction with immediate effect.

“If these learners can do it, why can’t you. Time is of the essence and if we don’t act now we will become losers in the long run. The learners are curious about nature and are hungry for knowledge. Ndumo used to be known as the forgotten community. This is no longer the case. They are now on the map as our future eco-warriors and they fight for the environment. I commend the University for this project and I wish to see more of these in the future,” Ogilvy concluded.

Her colleague and Head of Department, Prof Brian Reilly, is equally passionate about the environment. “Our future depends on how well we treat our environment. The challenges our surroundings are facing have a direct bearing not only on biodiversity, but also the human race. We are responsible for the current extinction rate which appears to be at least a thousand times faster and is attributable to pollution, increased natural resource use, invasive species and poor land use planning,” he said.

“The Ndumo Community Project promotes environmental education at schools. It has been ongoing for the past 16 years. It involves managing an environmental education centre at the Ndumo Game Reserve, teaching learners nature conservation management, waste remediation, improving water quality and proposing innovative solutions to make the environment more biodiverse and human friendly. TUT students do most of the work as part of their work-integrated learning experience,” he added.

In the South African context, World Environment Day is a key driver of this month-long June Environment Month celebration. The celebrations include World Oceans Day and World Day to Combat Desertification. Both days are annual events which are celebrated globally for positive action in the environmental sector.

For more information on the Tshwane University of Technology please contact Willa de Ruyter on tel: 012 382 5352 or send an email to deruyterw@tut.ac.za.