Drive away from our home in Porterville, North towards Clanwilliam and up into the Cederberg mountains, where endangered Cape leopards live. Since September last year Jurg has been volunteering with the Cape Leopard Trust. In January he went to help refresh the Toktokkie Camp before this year’s children arrived for their wilderness camps.
This is all off grid. The power to install the solar panel comes via a generator. Lights and the fridge will be run with the new solar panel. No cell phone reception (but a satellite phone for emergencies).
Tucked in amongst the poplar trees are a kitchen and a campfire. Further away are showers and long drop loos. After lots of hard work in the blast of summer heat, the first group of children arrive. Matthew Dowling CLT’s Environmental Educator is sorting children into tents.
Children from private schools pay the fee, but children from farm schools are subsidised. CLT’s Education Programme is sponsored by the National Lottery. The Firsts arrive with their own hiking boots, the Thirds use boots discounted by Hi-Tec and Cape Union Mart while they are at the camp.
‘Children from the local Cederberg school of Eselbank were entranced as they witnessed both the soaring flight of the parent eagles, and the Black Eagle chick perched on its cliff nest’.
‘Wupperthal School is situated in the heart of the Cederberg, and it is therefore particularly important to us that these children are involved in our programme. A highlight for us was when they broke into song in the magnificent Wolfberg Cracks, in awe of the space and the beauty’.
‘To see a group of teenage city girls bundu-bashing through thick vegetation on a mountain slope is very satisfying to an environmental educator. There’s something about not being on a path that wakes up all the senses and this, in itself, is a fantastic lesson in awareness. The Hout Bay girls eco-club were searching for a leopard kill site using the GPS data collected from one of the collared leopard’s GPS collars. The aim was to find the remains of the animal that the leopard ate’.
‘We planned a lovely challenge for the children from the Dwarsrivier School who are already familiar with the natural surroundings in the Cederberg through their walks with us – we took them for an overnight hike where they had to carry their own sleeping things and sleep out in a cave on the mountain. The children were so excited to be proper hikers, and set out full of giggles and determination, leaning on the walking sticks they had just made’.
For your shower you get 20 litres of water. Fill your chosen mix of hot and cold in the bucket, then hoist it up. No water restrictions '3 minute showers'. You HAVE only 20 litres in your bucket. Refill and hoist again.
Elizabeth is a trained Waldorf teacher. Her husband Quinton does the research, trapping and collaring. To book wilderness camps for a school class or a ‘family’ of 6 children, please email Elizabeth.
Toktokkie Camp is at Matjiesrivier run in partnership with CapeNature.
The leopard within - a wilderness experience for women - 26th to 29th April 2012, will be facilitated by Elizabeth Martins (who coordinates the Cape Leopard Trust’s Education and Outreach Programme) and Bronwen Lankers-Byrne (working to create a sustainable peaceful and united Hout Bay). Last year – ‘there were women from the local Cederberg communities, as well as from various parts of the Western Cape – a diverse and wonderful group’.
The little yellow Land Rover heads for home, until the next Cape leopard calls to him!
If a wilderness camp in South Africa is a dream beyond reach, Meredith creates schoolyard habitats in Texas. With Carole Sevilla Brown and my circle gardening for wildlife I-believe-that-children-are-our-future.
Quotes are from the CLT’s Annual Report for 2011.
Pictures by Jurg and CLT
Pictures by Jurg and CLT
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
- wildlife gardening in Porterville, near Cape Town in South Africa
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