MTN BUSHFIRE PARTNERS WITH BIG GAME PARKS TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS OF CONSERVATION
50 Years of Conservation is something to celebrate! In 1964, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary was officially opened and marked the beginning of formal conservation in Swaziland. This led to the proclamation of Hlane Naitonal Park in 1967, the creation of SNTC in 1972 and the proclamation of Malolotja National Park, Mlawula Game Reserve, Mkhaya Game Reserve (1970’s) and Mantenga Nature Reserve in the 1980’s. Furthermore, individuals and organisations have set aside farms and conservancies, safeguarding Swaziland’s ecological treasures.
Creation has been the theme throughout the 50 years of conservation. The parks are now well supported by the Swazi population as well as international guests, and participation in conservation is vital to her survival. With the 50th celebrations, Big Game Parks is inviting active participation and how better than through artistic expression?
In September 2013, Big Game Parks approach MTN Bushfire with the concept of adopting the theme Celebrating Nature as their schools programme for 2014. Synergies are strong and what has materialized:
MTN Bushfire has graciously adopted Celebrating Nature into their 2014 programme, which is being rolled out through their schools and community programmes and through Big Game Parks Family Days. We are concentrating on 4 major elements:
◦ Storytelling – with Big Game Parks input, MTN Bushfire have crafted an amazing story we've titled Baka Msholo (the name of the rangers) which brings to life the history of Swazi conservation for all ages – such fun! The first storytelling evening will be on Mlilwane on 12th April 2014;
◦ Murals – a Biodiversity Mural is being created for Mlilwane's environmental education centre, which will be painted during a Family Day and then duplicated in one of the MTN Bushfire communities near Mlilwane. The mural brief is to be aesthetically beautiful and compelling, with deep educational application for various ages;
◦ Lanterns – MTN Bushfire have planned an opening ceremony with a Lantern procession, and for this have adopted wildlife as their theme. Lantern making will be integrated into one of our Family Days, as well as Bushfire community projects;
◦ Flags – similar process to the murals above, with animal themes, community workshops etc;
◦ The lanterns and flags will be displayed at MTN Bushfire and at our 50th celebrations, while the storytelling will happen at our Family Days, Bushfire and live eternally! The mural will be used in schools programmes within Mlilwane and in time we can duplicate this for Hlane.
Our 50 years of conservation are being celebrated in other ways too:
• Walking the History through weekly media pages between February and July, recording major moments in Swazi conservation and inviting personal stories form the public – please send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Monthly Family Days launched in February, with the explicit aim of getting families and kids onto the parks for nature activities. Both Hlane and Mlilwane open their gates FREE to kids under 13 years on these days, and we have recycling craft tables, educational games and activities for children. Bushfire activities will be incorporated into these where possible;
• Big Game Parks Nature Activity Book has been created and distributed through BGP curio shops and Family Days. The book is very Swazi oriented, 40 pages of fun educational and brain stretching info with colouring in for the younger ones;
Keep an ear to the ground – there will be more celebrations this year!
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Official Photographers - Bram Lanmers and Sydelle Willow-Smith