The Cape Leopard Trust - Using research as a tool for conservation & finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict
Tuesday, 03 May 2011 04:05

IKAMVA Masiphumelele Youth Camp

The IKAMVA youth group in Masiphumelele are a collection of upper high school students who are committed to achieving a high quality Matric pass (and therefore choices of better futures) through attendance of regular weekly enrichment sessions held at the Masiphumelele library with the aid of facilitators from the NGO ‘IKAMVA Youth’.  Most members are residents of Masiphumelele, an informal settlement in the Fish Hoek valley. Their trip into the Cederberg was enriching and enlightening on an academic level as well as providing personal challenges and victories that will always remain in their psyches. 

Much space was provided in this camp for learning objectives that could directly assist with their educational careers.  We adapted our initial presentation thus by including questions on conservation that required critical thinking and followed it up with a hands on discussion and demonstration on animal skulls and the differences between predators’ skulls and herbivores’.   There was a thorough astronomy lesson that introduced the learners to the various methods used to map the sky and the actual relevance of the heavens to us here on earth.  This opened up questions about celeritas or the “speed of light” and the great distances between the objects in our universe.
Even the magnificent sunset from the Stadsaal caves was an opportunity to learn about geology and the sandstone and shale landscape that makes up the area. 

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Day 2 and the students had accepted a big challenge that we had laid down in front of them.  The Wolfberg cracks from the bottom to the top force you to ascend a calf muscle busting 500 meters of steps and, higher up, a labyrinth of belly squeezing tunnels, chock stones and cracks spitting you out into the sunlight 1500 m above sea level on a beautiful sunlit, butterfly filled and truly silent plateau.
The group got up with only a little complaining and comradeship was shown in the helping hands, knees and shoulders that assisted each other in the surmounting of some of the almost impassable obstacles.

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En route through the Wolfberg Cracks

This in addition to the observing of the diversity of plants and other wildlife (Dassie and Klipspringer, sunbirds and suikerbekkies) made the walk truly memorable.  Amazingly the boys in the group still had energy for a game of football back at the camp while others retired to their tents for a well-deserved siesta. 

The final day was spent getting lost in the maze of Truitjieskraal and examining the ancient rock paintings (a painting of a centaur type creature is the only one of its kind ever discovered anywhere) followed by a refreshing swim in the Matjiesrivier river where we were lucky to see a few members of the insect-eating drosera plant species thriving amongst some tangled roots on the riverbank along with some similar minded micro spiders. For many of the group, swimming was a novelty and they delighted in the experience, playing with abandon like young children.

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All in all the experience was a truly valuable one, invoking interest in all the participants and inspiring a seed of love for this detailed world of nature that hopefully blossoms in these fertile minds of the future.

Matthew Dowling

The Cape Leopard Trust Trapping Techniques

icon no trapShort overview of three trapping methods considered by the Cape Leopard Trust as safe and humane: Cage traps, Foot loop traps or Foot snares, Soft-catch traps, References to relevant scientific literature.

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