CITW Botswana Hosts Inspiring Conservation Science Camp for Girls

In an effort to encourage and empower school girls in rural areas to develop an interest in environmental and conservation science, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Botswana, Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit partner, held a five-day Conservation Science Camp for 30 girls from Ngambao Community Junior Secondary School in Seronga, in Botswana’s North-West District.

The camp, which is part of a one-year project funded by the US Embassy in Botswana, took place from the 18th to the 23rd of April. It is the first Environmental Science, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)-focused project for school girls. By focusing on these subjects, it is hoped that the girls will be inspired to pursue environmental and STEM-based tertiary degrees and career trajectories.

The girls, aged 16 to 18, participated in workshops and discussions focusing on nature, biodiversity, human-wildlife coexistence, and conservation of the Okavango Delta, using scientific methods to conduct mini-researches and investigations. Other activities included career guidance, life skills and leadership talks, and team projects. During their nature walks, the girls learnt how to set camera traps, use GPS tracking, and how a drone is used for environmental conservation purposes.

The workshops were facilitated by a team of ecologists, scientists and conservationists, including Dr Jess Isden from the University of Oxford’s WildCRU, Manga Motho from the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute, and Segametsi Monnamorwa and others from Wilderness Safaris’ Environmental Department.

Also invited to the camp was Jen Palmer, founder of Women for Wildlife, who led the girls through a dynamic leadership workshop on how to “use your voice” and speak with confidence. Then, Dr Anna Songhurst, co-founder of the Ecoexist Trust and conservation biologist specialising in human-elephant interactions, shared about her research programme that aims to reduce human-elephant conflict and foster coexistence between humans and elephants in the Okavango Delta. Ms Nametso Phiri, Programme Coordinator at the Pereko Foundation, also participated, introducing the girls to design thinking.