Better prospects through education and conservation

Launch of 6 children's projects in Botswana's wildlife areas

For more than 10 years, SAVE has been involved in development and education projects in Botswana, where national parks such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site Okavango Delta provide a unique habitat for endangered species. With these projects SAVE aims to support the peaceful coexistence of humans and wild animals. To date the foundation has reached over 14,500 children. Currently, around 1,590 children and their families are involved in 29 SAVE children’s projects on site.

On January 15, 6 further SAVE funded children’s projects will start in the NG 32 district in northern Botswana. Early childhood education and care taking, basic care and adapted practical environmental education in so-called “playgroups” give around 300 children a fair chance on a good start to the future school career.

The area NG 32, north of Maun, like other areas of Botswana, is struggling with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, high unemployment and the slump in the travel industry since 2020. For many families, it is a daily struggle to feed the family. A challenge especially for single mothers like Rothe, who has to get her three children through on her own. Many children, like her five-year-old son Mogogi, are usually on their own during the day because their mothers have to make money.

A lot has changed for Mogogi and his family since his mother takes him 3 km on foot to the SAVE playgroup in Matsaudi every morning. He no longer stays at home alone, while his mother is earning a living. Together with the other children of the playgroup, he learns to count to 20, to write his name and much more, which makes it easier for him to enter primary school. Above all, he learns one thing: self-confidence. He can achieve something, even if he has been born into a life that offers him few chances.

Matsaudi Playgroup, Botswana.

Education as the key to sustainable species conservation

Mogogi’s visit to the playgroup gives him a good start to his school life – and at the same time, it improves chances for Botswana’s unique wildlife. “Many children in Botswana know little about the wildlife they sometimes encounter on their way to school. They often perceive them only as a threat or as a tourist attraction and that’s exactly what we want to change,” explains Lars Gorschlüter. With the E4C (Education for Conservation) strategy, the SAVE Foundation, which he founded, wants to achieve a peaceful coexistence between humans and wild animals in the long term. “For us, education is the key to conservation,” Continues Lars Gorschlüter, “and that requires long-term and sustainable work. We are very pleased that the multi-year funding of the Futura Foundation for our children’s project enables us to do just that.”

For the early childhood preschool program and the environmental education in the playgroups, SAVE has developed a special curriculum and a learning book with which the teachers support children like Mogogi and prepare and enable them for school. The aim is to enable more children to attend school and to give them more opportunities for their future after completing their education.

Career aspiration: Lion ranger or teacher

In addition to letters and numbers, the children in the playgroups also get to know the animals and learn about the ecosystem of their country in a child-friendly and fun way. In the classroom and on excursions the children learn more about the behaviours of the various wild animals – for both, their protection and that of the animals that sometimes come to the villages on the edge of the nature reserves.

Due to the project, the children and their parents also learn about employment opportunities that nature and animal welfare offer in their country in the long term. Therefore, many of the children from the playgroups want to become teachers or lion rangers once they have grown up and completed their school education.

How it goes on

SAVE aims to launch a new project in Botswana every 2-3 months in 2022. The E4C conservation education programmes are expected to reach around 62,000 (around 90%) of children and young people in and around Botswana’s wildlife areas by the end of 2025. In addition to the expansion of children’s projects more farming initiatives as well as community development, lion and elephant protection projects are being planned.

In the coming years, the SAVE Foundation will extend its activities in Poland and build up projects in the Congo, where a new branch has just been established. In Germany, SAVE wants to use environmental campaigns for kindergartens and schools in NRW and for environmental protection practised locally. All these projects need the support of people, organizations and companies that are committed to sustainable and long-term commitment and team up for wildlife conservation.

About SAVE

The operational SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund (SAVE), founded by entrepreneur Lars Gorschlüter, has been a registered non-profit foundation based in Wülfrath since 2011. SAVE works exclusively with local employees for the protection of species and their habitats. SAVE focuses on education, education and sustainable development, which is why the foundation supports not only campaigns for the protection of the rainforest but also species conservation research projects. The project work on-site is based on the sustainable approach of help towards helping yourself and aims to an effective combination of disadvantaged children support, community development work as well as environment and species conservation.