Junior Honorary Rangers Training in Skukuza
by Michele Hofmeyr
Local young conservationists got the chance to go “behind the scenes” in Skukuza, Kruger National Park, as part of their training as Junior Honorary Rangers (JHR). The group of 12-18 year old learners from Malelane, Nelspruit and White River spent a weekend learning more about how science and monitoring go a long way in helping our understanding of how the environment functions.
The first stop was the Flux tower situated near Phabeni. This tower has specialized with equipment that measures the changes in concentrations of carbon dioxide, water and energy in the atmosphere as part of a long-term environmental monitoring programme. The group also visited the Skukuza weather station to learn more about how the information about changes in weather are detected and monitored on a daily basis.
Nature Conservation student Sarah Webb took the group to the Nkhuhlu exclosure along the Sabie River where she explained the experimental design of the exclosure, the main purpose of which is to determine the effect of different combinations of fire, elephants and other herbivores on the vegetation.
Frik Rossouw, Section Officer, CIS Investigations provided some very interesting information on what it takes to catch poachers and monitor any criminal activities in and around the park. While staying in the Sand river bush camp, the learners had the chance to see new birds and identify trees and shrubs as part of the programme. Junior Honorary Rangers are a subsidiary of the Honorary Ranger programme in the Kruger National Park and are also involved in various duties including educational activities in the park.
Jeanette Curling, who led this training course, says the course is designed to improve their knowledge of conservation issues but the learners must be able to pass this information on to their peers. “Peer group learning is a powerful way for young people to learn from each other – it also makes the issues at hand more real if it comes from someone of your same age group” says Jeanette.
Junior Honorary ranger meetings are held approximately every six weeks, either in Nelspruit or in the Kruger National Park. The training package and programme for Junior Honorary Rangers in their first year as applicants consists of – an interactive workbook, a one day practical workshop and a portfolio
Jeanette added “if you would like to support youth conservation education, please phone me on 083 7014856”.