Beautiful Cranes Nature Club

Each Conservancy in the Midlands does different activities to strengthen environmental awareness and learning in the region. N3Toll Concession is delighted to fund many of these activities through the Midlands Conservancies Forum (MCF) Environmental Learning and Leadership Programme. MCF believes that in order to protect precious eco-systems and the goods and services that they provide to society, it is important to educate and inspire our communities, and young people in particular, to understand and value them.

Bill Barnes Crane and Oribi Nature Reserve – home to the KZN Crane Foundation – has started an Enviro Club for the children who live around the 450ha reserve with their allocation of the MCF funds. KZNCF believe that it is important that everyone understands the importance of the grassland and wetland eco-systems which are a feature of the Reserve and the habitats they provide for endangered cranes.

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On the first day (a sunny autumn Saturday) 19 youngsters aged between 10 and 16 were welcomed by Nkanyiso Ndlela, Environmental Education facilitator for KZNCF. After an explanation about Reserve and the work of the Crane foundation, there was a lot of discussion on a suitable name for the new club. Beautiful Cranes Nature Club got the most votes. Everyone helped make up some simple rules for the club which included being on time, respecting the Reserve and one another, and no littering.

Nkanyiso asked the children what activities they hoped to do with their new club and a wide selection of ideas were recorded. These ranged from learning more about wetland plants, doing drama and singing, to going on environmental trips.

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The first activity of the day was making Wattled Crane masks. With the new Wattled Crane Nursery (almost ready to receive chicks) in the distance, this was an ideal opportunity to chat about the vulnerability of the last few hundred Wattled Cranes in the wild.

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Caring Monuments was the next activity in this action packed morning. Nkanyiso: “A monument is made to stop people from forgetting or from being forgotten – they can be buildings or statues. This reserve is named after a man who did very important work in Conservation – Bill Barnes. Together we designed a monument for wetlands to be called a Caring Monument and made up caring messages to be part of the monument.”

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The final activity was based on the importance of wetlands and involved getting feet wet to discover the plants and animals that occur in the wetland on the Reserve. Everyone had great fun and found frogs, water beetles, sacred ibis, incema, imifino, a grey heron and tadpoles.

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Nkanyiso hopes to inspire other young people interested in the environment, and show that with dedicated effort, they too can follow their dreams. The Beautiful Cranes Nature Club is a great start.

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