Pupils in awe after trips

2017-03-17 09:41
Maritzburg College pupils in Somkhanda Game Reserve last year. The trip was sponsored by the Jonny Low Memorial Trust Youth Development.

Maritzburg College pupils in Somkhanda Game Reserve last year. The trip was sponsored by the Jonny Low Memorial Trust Youth Development. (Supplied)

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Set on promoting a culture of eco-conservation among local high school pupils, the Jonny Lowe Memorial Trust is working towards reconnecting Pietermaritzburg’s youth with wildlife.

The trust was founded three years ago in memory of Lowe, who represented Pietermaritzburg at cricket and squash, and played hockey for South Africa from 1964 to 1971.

Lowe’s passion for conservation and the environment led his family, along with his good friend, former Maritzburg College headmaster Keith Olivier, to create a trust that would support and promote conservation among the youth.

The Trust has raised funds for Project Rhino KZN, the Wildlands Conservation Trust, and more recently, has sent pupils from two local schools on trips into the bush in the hopes of creating and fostering a culture of conservation among the youth.

Last year, the trust raised money through its golf day at the Victoria Country Club for two separate trips for several pupils from Russell High School and Maritzburg College.

Olivier said both the trips were hugely successful and they hoped to take pupils from four other schools from around the Pietermaritzburg area on conservation trips into the wilderness.

He said the trust is working with Project Rhino KZN and Wildlands by sending pupils on trips during the formative stage of their lives in order to open them up to new experiences.

He said some of the pupils saw giraffe and other wildlife for the first time on these trips and were “in complete awe” of the animals.

Olivier said the trips also gave pupils an opportunity to connect with nature, with many realising they could even pursue a career in conservation such as being game ranger.

Russell High School made the trip to Bayete in Zululand in September last year as part of the Jonny Lowe Memorial Trust youth development programme.

Olivier said the school was enthusiastic about the trip “from the start” and had been involved in rhino programmes in previous years.

Pupils wrote to Olivier after the trip thanking him for the opportunity to learn about the environment and see wildlife in its natural habitat up close.

A letter from one of the pupils, Adele Wagner, on behalf of the school described the trip as “absolutely amazing”.

Adele said the trip was the first time many of the pupils had visited a game reserve and said it was “life changing”.

“I went from enjoying the peace and awesomeness of the environment to feeling sheer anger, terror and sadness all because of rhino poaching,” said Adele. “This trip resulted in me viewing rhino poaching in a whole new light and made me realise that poachers aren’t just stealing the rhino horn, but our heritage as well.”

Maritzburg College toured to Somkhanda Game Reserve in Northern Zululand and wrote to Olivier to thank him for the opportunity.

One pupil, Bevan Roets, said the trip was “unforgettable” and opened his eyes to how bad the drought was in KZN.

“The best moment of the trip was being almost 10 metres away from a rhino,” said Bevan in his letter. “This experience brought out a different kind of respect for the powerful creatures,” he said.

Olivier said the trips were important for the pupils as they were an experience that no textbook could match.

To learn more about the trust, making donations and raising funds for school trips, e-mail adm@jlmt@gmail.com.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  wildlife conservation

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