Lapalala Wilderness School | September 30, 2019
The Lapalala Wilderness School (LWS) in the far north of South Africa has a history spanning more than three decades and in that time tens of thousands of children, students and teachers have passed through this centre of environmental learning and have been transformed by the experience. To celebrate International Rhino Day, a speaking competition was organised. It was an exceptional event, conducted by MC Johannes Monyeki from LWS in a spirit that stimulated genuine competition, but at the same time encouraged new levels of networking, interest and discussion in a wide range of community schools on rhino poaching in South Africa, and on options for introducing mitigation strategies to reduce the threat to rhinos.
The competition attracted 40 children for 21 Schools, and each had between three to five minutes to speak on the following topic. What are the social, political and economic impacts of rhino poaching in South Africa? Develop an argument and present possible solutions to the impacts and challenges. Each speaker was assessed by a panel of four judges (Letticia Mahlatji from Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Jessica Babich from Save the Waterberg Rhino, Ndifelani Mulaudzi from Endangered Wildlife Trust and John Hanks from LWS), based on ten judging criteria.
Competitors, judges, visitors and LWS staff at the conclusion of the competition.
Considering the age of the competitors, the standard was remarkably high. It was most encouraging to hear the passion and enthusiasm of the speakers for a what is a complex subject embracing issues of community involvement, economic importance of tourism and other values of rhinos, law enforcement (and the efficacy of sentences for poaching), biodiversity conservation, and the general lack of a political commitment to address rhino poaching.
The names of the top eight and the prizes they received are as follows:
1. Mmabatho Nkae Mothoa (Ramogabudi Secondary School, Maroteng Village). Laptop, Printer, Mouse and bag.
2. Lebogang Dikgashu (Ebenezer Secondary School, Mahwelereng Township). Laptop, Mouse and bag.
3. Koketso Augustine Mochoeneng (Ramogabudi Secondary School, Maroteng Village). Camera, 16 gig Memory card and printer.
4. Isabel Mohumutsi (EDL Rampolo Secondary, Mahwelereng Township). Study Aid Material for R3,000.
5. Tshepang Chauke (EDL Rampolo Secondary, Mahwelereng Township). Voucher for R3,000 for school uniform material.
6. Ted Marothi ( Sekoba Secondary School, Mapela Hans Gamasenya). Voucher for R3,000 for school uniform material.
7. Marry Nkwana ( Nkgaru Secondary School, Nkgoru Village). Voucher for R2,500 for Study aid material.
8. Gift Kgabane (MC Langa High School, Mapela Mmhlongo Village). Backpack with all stationary material.
The prizes were of a very high standard and were generously sponsored by My Planet Rhino Fund (Administered by the Endangered Wildlife Trust), the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Save the Waterberg Rhino and Tintswalo Lodge Lapalala.
This was an exceptional event, conducted by MC Johannes Monyeki from LWS in a spirit that stimulated genuine competition, but at the same time encouraged new levels of networking, interest and discussion in a wide range of community schools on rhino poaching in South Africa, and on options for introducing mitigation strategies to reduce the threat to rhinos.