Connecting with children on conservation has many benefits. In the short-term, children can become excellent advocates of wildlife to their families and communities, and in the long-term teaching children about conservation can help them grow into adults who care about the environment. Painted Dog Conservation (PDC)’s flagship bush camp brings children from local communities near PDC’s Zimbabwe headquarters together to get acquainted with their surrounding environment and its wildlife and to learn why conservation is important.
During the Bush Camp, children get to observe wildlife that they would otherwise not have the chance to see, even though they live near reserves and wild animals. The Ingayana Bush Camp (Ingayana means Painted Dog in Sindebele, the local language) is located in a natural environment near Hwange National Park, so the children get a full immersion experience. This program has proven to be very successful in emotionally engaging the children, and, in turn, in engaging their families.
Each year, the two most motivated children from each bush camp are invited to a “Special Camp.” At the Special Camp, the children are given cameras and photography training and then asked to take pictures of the wildlife they see. Their shots from the most recent Special Camp included everything from beetles, birds, and elephants to painted dogs themselves.
The children have the time of their lives with their newfound skills. Even more importantly, they build on their understanding and appreciation of conservation, as well as the role that painted dogs and other species play in the ecosystem. This understanding is essential to the long-term survival of the painted dog.
You can help support this program. By donating $60, one kid can enjoy the bush camp experience for four days. Your contribution will help cover for children’s meals, transportation, equipment, learning materials, and the salaries of the staff.
This camp was made possible thanks to the kind donations (cameras and printers) made by generous supporters.
Photos taken by the children at the camp are below. For many of the kids, this was the first time they'd ever picked up a camera.
– Story by Alejandra Calzada Vázquez Vela