Penz Malinga escourted the MMAEP Zenzane Enviro Club on a field trp to Midlands Forest Lodge on behalf of the Balgowan Conservancy during September.
It was a lovely sunny morning as I arrived at Zenzane to collect the kids for the Forest outing. When the taxi arrived we were all geared up in our red hats, we got into the taxi and went off.
Arriving at the forest lodge, I turned down the blasting volume on the radio and explained the rules of the forest which were no picking of plants, no loud noises, no stripping of bark or walking off the main path. Then we got out to stretch our legs from the short journey and posed for photographs next to the small dam.
All of the children that came along on the trip had previously done a forest study so we started by recapping what they had learned the previous year. They recalled comparing the forest to the grassland and finding lot more species diversity in the forest. We started the forest walk via the grassland trail.
The kids were asked to interpret what they knew or what they saw to the rest of the group. We noted a lot of impepho plants in the grass and lovely pink daisies.
Where the grassland ended and forest began, we started playing a game of guess the poo and guess the spoor, for points. When we came across the first scat I shouted “guess the poo” andeveryone came to look and offer a guess. The scat was analysed for content, it had plant fibres and bits of seeds and so we worked out that it was a gift from a porcupine.
As we reached the clearing the group settled down on the bench near a tall yellowwood. I told a short story titled “Finding Heart”, which was about finding out if the tree had a heart.
After the story we all ventured into the forest for a solitary session. They were to sit alone in silence and listen to the sounds of the forest. They were also given a task to write a story or a poem. They could chose to be anything in the forest and imagine its life and what it feels like to be that particular thing.
“I would like to be a tree that grows in a place where there are no people but only birds sing” said Nokwanda. Luyanda said he would like it if he were a large yellowwood tree because he could provide a place for the birds to nest. Bayanda came up with the classic, “I love trees because they give us money”.
After our solitaire, we finished the walk while carrying on with our “guess the poo” game, everyone was getting points by now. We saw bush pig, monkey and bushbuck droppings. We also saw an unidentified eagle take off from a tree. The purple crested tuaracos were calling – feathers from their crimson wings were our treasure.
Getting to the end of the walk Yvonne Thompson (Chair Balgowan Conservancy) was waiting for us with lunch. Everyone was hungry and thirsty by now.
We enjoyed the yummy lunch, went to play on the swings
and made a lovely forest poster before Luke (our driver) came back and took everybody home. It was an awesome.
This excursion forms part of the Balgowan Conservancy community outreach programme and was paid for through funding Midlands Conservancies Forum secured from N3TC for fieldtrips. Yvonne commented; “What a lovely morning. The children were learning and having fun at the same time. It was wonderful to be able to give them time just to be kids in nature.”