A woman in Born Free uniform with South African school children in school uniform

International Education: South Africa

In South Africa, our education programme, based out of our two big cat sanctuaries within Shamwari Private Game Reserve, gives children an opportunity to learn about Born Free through the stories of our rescued cats, and to see the amazing wildlife of the Eastern Cape. Through this programme, Born Free also reaches out to local schools and communities.

Our work with communities aims to build strong communities who are well-rounded, confident and fearless role models. Activities include both conservation education and human-centred approaches to help support communities struggling with unemployment and a lack of opportunity.

My wish and hope is that through raising awareness we can change social behaviours and help communities take decisions that benefit both people and the environment, while at the same time preserving our heritage for future generations.

Vinourica Ndou, South Africa Education Manager

Conservation Clubs

A group of school children sit at desks arranged in a horseshoe, with posters about rhinos presented on the desks

A Conservation Club meet and learn more about rhinos

Working with local schools in Alicedale, Paterson, Zuney and Riebeek East, the programme combines theoretical classroom-based learning with practical activities, covering topics that include our environment, habitats, biodiversity and animal welfare. Supporting the National Curriculum, this programme enables students to develop a broad understanding of the natural world, its importance and the need for its protection.

Centre-based learning

Visiting the centres offers students the opportunity to take part in a programme that delivers theoretical learning, information about our rescued cats (both their personal stories and their needs in the wild) followed by an opportunity to visit the Game Reserve itself. These sessions allow them to better understand where wildlife belongs.

Lavelikhwezi Empowerment Project

A group of women sit around a table, using sewing machines

The Lavelikhwezi women’s empowerment project

This women’s livelihood project, focussed on sewing and other handicrafts, enables the women within our local community to use skills they already have to empower themselves. After support from Born Free, in the form of training, start-up costs and guidance, the group currently works full-time on the production of a toiletry gift bag which they supply to Shamwari private game reserve.

As this group is part of Born Free’s wider community outreach programme, we also engage them in wildlife and environmental education and offer them the opportunity to visit our centres to learn more about Born Free’s work and the natural environment.  

Community clean ups

Lots of large rubbish bags are piled together, with people collecting more rubbish around them

A community clean up organised by Born Free in South Africa

Local governments often struggle to meet the needs of small towns in rural settings when it comes to providing sufficient waste management. However, these rural towns produce a lot of waste which can become damaging to the environment.

Many rural settlements are at the border of protected natural habitat and poor waste management activities in these settlements directly affects these areas and the wildlife in them. This problem extends to Shamwari’s host communities of Alicedale and Paterson.

Our team engages and organises local people in the community to help us clean up the towns’ illegal dumping sites and perform litter pick campaigns. During this campaign we also raise awareness of pollution and its negative effects on habitats.

Team: Vinourica Ndou, Education Manager; Sidney Clay, Education Officer; Nosicelo Mnana, Education Assistant.