At Chipembele, interactive learning is as important as books and lessons. Taking the Chipembele conservation pupils out into their wonderful environment adds immeasurably to their interest and education. We recently had the opportunity to purchase a proper 'safari' land cruiser. We had wished for one for many years, but in the face of running our programmes and projects and the funds required to do so, the time wasn't right and we were concerned that the funds were beyond us. We have learned though when you really really want something and put in the footwork to make it happen...providence moves too, as do our wonderful supporters and friends. With the generous support of Schulsprojekte Sambia (Switzerland), Chipembele Trust (UK), Monarto Zoo (Aus) from their MAD - Make a Difference - campaign funds and Steve and Denise Blake (USA) we have now purchased the Chipembele Safari vehicle. Thank you one and all for your support, encouragement and help.
Ben Heermans, The Chipembele Conservation Education manager is thrilled, his education motto is "no child left inside..." and having the opportunity to take a bunch of Conservation Club pupils out in the 'Safari-licious' was a maiden voyage full of wonder and excitement for all concerned.
Our mission is '...to teach local children the value of their wildlife and environment so it may be conserved for current and future generations'. The main industry and income in our area is 'safari' tourism. Chipembele Wildlife Education Centre is located on the banks of the Luangwa River, opposite the South Luangwa National Park. International travelers come from all over the world to visit our wonderful National park and to experience the African bush, her iconic wildlife and the wild ambience of the Park. Safari tourism is the number one generator of work and income in the South Luangwa Valley. It drives the whole area.
We have various programmes running long term that have included Chipembele pupils taking part in drives into the Park and the surrounding Game Management Area (GMA). There is the very popular 'Fridays with Ashed' - Ashed is a member of the Zambian Carnivore Programme team. There have been trips in our big transport truck that we use to pick up the children and young people to transport them out here to the Centre and home again, utilised for trips into the Park. There have been trips in the vehicle supplied by our partner Painted Dog Conservation. All of these have added great fun and interactive learning, but we needed to be able to run regular safari tours as part of the children's education - so they can see for themselves the importance of the wildlife, the environment and what 'safari' is all about.
The children live in close proximity to the wild - yet some have never seen a leopard, or civet - others may not have even seen an Elephant close up, despite their presence and their penchant for mealie maize crops! Our mission is to have the children in the area connected to and engaged with their environment. Understanding how and why tourism is important adds value to their own lives and is a critical part of their education. Our safari vehicle will provide a safe and easy means of transport for our regular trips and the viewing from this vehicle is superior to the truck or a closed vehicle.