Girls in Conservation: from Learners to Leaders

Published: 19 October 2021

One of the Cape Leopard Trust (CLT) Education project’s main aims is to use environmental learning and knowledge as a catalyst for social change. The CLT ‘Girls in Conservation’ initiative, this year partnered with BRAVE and Table Mountain Fund, recently hosted a very successful holiday programme along with Brave’s ‘Daring Disas’ team. Twenty-five girls from Manenberg on the Cape Flats joined the CLT on a journey to explore exciting career opportunities in the Green Skills sector.

The programme consisted of 5x day excursions to a variety of locations and organisations, and by the end of the week the girls had experience in research and laboratory work, wildlife monitoring, botany, guiding, education and sustainable farming.

  • At SANBI the girls experienced careers in botany as they tried their hands at horticulture, pressing plants in the herbarium and preparing seeds for the seed bank.
  • Iimbovane with the University of Stellenbosch gave the girls a peek into entomology and taxonomy and the group spent a day looking at the fascinating life of ants through microscopes and specimen collecting.
  • The group hiked up Table Mountain and learned about adventure tourism and what career options are available to pursue.
  • Wildlife monitoring was next up and the girls spent a productive day at Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm.
  • Last but not least, the group learned about producing food sustainably and exciting careers in the farming sector in partnership with Boschendal

A big shout out to Montagu Snacks for sponsoring delicious and healthy eats for the group to enjoy while out and about, and also to Bluu Car Rental for sponsoring the use of an 8-seater VW Kombi to help us safely transport the girls to and from the outing locations. Thank you for helping us to inspire and build capacity in this wonderful group of learners! 

A great leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. Lee-Anne Jenkins, one of the Brave group leaders, first attended a CLT wilderness camp as a participant at the age of 15. She now facilitates groups and makes a difference in the lives of others.

Here is what Lee-Ann had to say:

Q: You were a participant in the programme in 2015, what motivated you to come back to the programme and support young women?

Yes I was a participant in 2015 and decided to come back because I was in school then and saw that this is an opportunity for me to see bigger and better things. Also, getting out of my community was very helpful to my mental health although I didn't know it back then but I realized it now, just being in the community makes its hard for me to think and being/getting exposed to other places improves the way I think about Manenberg. I always thought that my community was my little world because I did not go out but after getting on the leopard bus not knowing where I am heading to, made me see a bigger world.

I wanted to give girls from the community a chance to change their way of thinking and change their perspective towards life. Many young girls do not further their education and fall pregnant at a very young age and that is when they give up, therefore I am here to help improve statistics within the community and change the narrative so that there's no trend of when I am 14 I must leave school to take responsibility for my siblings and/or play a parent role because I am not a parent I’m a child and should be treated like one.

Q: Can you remember what your first camp with the Cape Leopard Trust was like?

It was amazing! I don't necessarily remember in detail but what I do know is that I did not want to come home. We did alot of hikes and wonderful worksheet activities, slept under the stars and also faced your fears by walking back to your tent in the dark all by yourself.