BENEFITING: VIRGINIA TECH FOUNDATION INC
Wild Joys will be a conservation program for children from rural communities in Botswana, Africa. Tourists pay tens of thousands of dollars to visit Botswana and view the awe-inspiring array of wildlife. Children from local communities, however, rarely have this same opportunity as their family's do not have the resources to travel outside of their village and into wildlife areas. Consequently, many of the children's wildlife encounters are negative, examples being when elephants raid their family’s crop field or carnivores prey on their livestock. Wild Joys will take children into the bush to provide them with positive wildlife encounters and expose them to natural history, animal behavior, and field research techniques (e.g., camera trapping, track surveys, and radio-telemetry). This will be a weekend program geared towards children ages 8-15 and will be taught in Setswana, the local language. We hope by exposing children to wildlife in their natural environment that we will help inspire the next generation of Botswana to care about conservation.
We trialed the program in August 2013 and took out 42 children over the course of 6 days. The children had a wonderful time, learned a lot, and we received many blessings from the people of Sankuyo (community located on the eastern border of the Okavango Delta). This was the first time the majority of children had ever seen lions, wild dogs, and leopards.
I am a PhD student at Virginia Tech, working in collaboration with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. I met Monthusi "Sixteen" Sinvula while carrying out my PhD research and was immediately inspired by his idea to start Wild Joys. Please help Sixteen and I generate enough funds to get Wild Joys off the ground. Our goal is to have the program become part of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust's ongoing outreach efforts. Thank you for your support!
For more information on my PhD research, please visit: www.lindseyrichresearch.com
Thanks to Ben Mahoney Productions for generously putting together the Wild Joys video! Also, thank you to funders of my pilot season research, including the Temenos Foundation, The Rufford Foundation, and Wilderness Wildlife Trust, your support allowed me to trial the Wild Joys program.