The 25 youngsters who attended the second meeting of the Beautiful Cranes Nature Club during May, had a real treat.
During the warm up games on the lawn, Ayanda Thwala spotted three Grey Crowned Cranes across the dam. Everyone was so excited and sharing the binoculars to get a better look.
Suddenly two Oribi came running towards where the cranes were. The cranes flapped their wings and would not allow the Oribi to pass them. The Oribi stood for a moment, then the cranes started to chase them! The Oribi didn’t go away, they kept running back towards the Cranes as if there was something they wanted to see! The kids were really enjoying the unusual scene and definitely understand why this place is called the Bill Barnes Crane and Oribi Sanctuary now.
“Wow, I have never seen a crane before” said Sisanda Ndlovu.
The next activity was trail interpretation. Before they set off KZNCF environmental education facilitator Nkanyiso Ndlela asked the kids what is expected to them while walking in the nature reserve. They replied – no loud noise, no running, no littering.
Nkanyiso writes: I advised them to look down for animal footprints/spoor and droppings/scats and also look in the sky for flying birds. As we walked, they identified things – grey crown crane, oribi, reedbuck and identified oribi scats and reed buck spoor.
The kids spotted a snake skin about 1m long in the grassland next to the dam. We discussed what type of snakes would be found in this grassland.
I asked the kids what they think the snake skin’s contribution to the environment is? They said it is waste and useless. I explained that a snake skin is actually food for insects, fertilizer for the soil, nest building material for birds and humans sometimes use snake skins for art activities.
Along the way the oribi scat was identified. I ask the kids what oribis eat. They knew it is grass and so I broke the scat open and we could see that it had grass in it. This provided an opportunity to talk about carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
Kids loved using the binoculars to look far across the landscape. Three grey crown cranes were spotted again, foraging in the wetland with two ducks. They asked lots of questions about the different plants and birds we saw, it was good to see how curious they are about the environment.
After a long walk everyone felt tired, but still happy to chat about what they had liked and learnt this day. “I learnt about oribis and that they depend in grasslands to live” said Yolanda Ndlovu. The Beautiful Cranes Nature Club was started with funds from the Midlands Conservancies Forum Environmental Learning and Leadership Project supported by N3Toll Concession. They meet monthly at the KZN Crane Foundation headquarters in Nottingham Road.