Namibia Wildlife Resorts, the governmental organisation which runs the National Parks camping and accommodation facilities, runs the NWR Enviro Kidz initiative. This aims to provide opportunities, primarily to school groups from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, to experience the protected areas of Namibia. It is also hoped that they will learn about the natural fauna and flora, environmental and conservation issues and the importance of safeguarding the environment.
This scheme is something relatively new within Namibia Wildlife Resorts and it is hoped that many children will benefit from the exciting initiative. The children are selected according to their performance as well as their home background, the scheme focuses on those who will most benefit from this exposure, namely orphans and vulnerable children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to visit these areas.
The first group of ten children visited the Park a couple of years ago and were from the Mupini Cluster in the Kavango Region, as well as one from the Oshikoto Region, and they were selected locally based on performance. They travelled to the Etosha National Park during school holidays, accompanied by experienced guides and staff of NWR. Here they had the opportunity to experience the unforgettable wildlife and scenery, and learn more the general environment. For all the kids this was their first visit to one of Namibia’s protected areas! Etosha National Park was the first Namibian conservation area formed in 1907 by the German Government. Etosha is made up of saline desert, savannah and woodland areas. In general, Etosha offers excellent game viewing opportunities by either day while simply driving or by night from floodlit waterholes.
The Park is dominated by the vast Etosha salt pan which is a shallow depression of 5,000km². In the dry season the pan is made up of white, cracked mud that shimmers with mirages. In the rainy season the pan fills up with water that’s draining southwards from Angola via a delta like system of shallow rivers and oshanas.
The park has 30 springs and waterholes, joined by a network of well maintained gravel roads to enable visitors the best chances of seeing the many inhabitants of Namibia’s premier wildlife reserve. Species present in the Park include lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, giraffe, zebra including the rare and endangered black rhino and the black faced impala in addition to many antelope and 340 bird species. Following Etosha, they moved southwards to the Waterberg Plateau Park where they were introduced to the fauna and flora, and in particular to rare and endangered species, whilst on a game drive on the plateau. For some of the learners, this was the first time they had seen a mountain – let alone the fascinating cliff face of the Waterberg Plateau.
In Windhoek the groups of children enjoy a tour of Windhoek’s historic and other sights of interest. For the majority this will be their first visit to the capital. They then travel south to Sesriem and the towering dunes of Sossusvlei, before returning home.
Namibia Wildlife Resorts is committed to the national objectives of sustainable development, poverty alleviation and job creation. “As a major player in the fastest-growing sector in the country, we recognise our role in achieving these objectives. Furthermore, the Namibian tourism sector is so closely linked to natural assets such as the wide-open landscapes and rich abundance of wildlife, that it is imperative for every effort to be made to protect these assets. This can be achieved only if present and future generations fully understand the concepts of sustainable development and if we all develop a culture of responsible environmental use and protection. The Enviro Kidz programme is NWR’s way of investing in the future. At least two Enviro Kidz educational excursions will be undertaken per year.”