Mariri Environmental and Skills Training Centre
The Mariri Environmental and Skills Training Centre opened its doors in August 2015. Each year, more than 100 children and their teachers from schools across Niassa Reserve come to visit for 4 nights. They play conservation games, climb mountains, go on game drives, debate conservation issues, clean up fishing camps and learn about alternative livelihoods like gardening, livestock breeding and beekeeping. They laugh, learn, see and experience the best of Niassa. For many this is the first time that they have seen animals such as elephant, lion, buffalo and leopard in a safe environment. We monitor whether our messages are reaching the children through a bespoke app especially developed for non-literate children that talks to them in their language.
In between the school visits, we host workshops and training sessions on topics from craft and design to the conservation law and getting a conviction. Since we don’t have time to wait for all the children to grow up we also focus on adult conservation education inviting traditional chiefs, elders, governmental officials, teachers and others to Mariri to share what we do.
Mariri is also the headquarters of the Niassa Lion Project, and is completely integrated into our conservation activities. Children and adults are part of all our activities whether we have researchers here that can share their program to taking children out to see a dead elephant if one is poached nearby.
Our aim has always to be able to offer an educational opportunity and experience for Niassa residents in a beautiful part of Niassa so that they can see conservation in action.
Thank you to WCN, Handsel Foundation, Houston Zoo and Anadarko for making a dream of a centre a reality. It was the right time and we are busy every week and all the time. Building a conservation future one person at a time.
Comments from children who visited the Environmental Centre:
“My father buys bush meat and we have in our fridge at home, now I have learnt about conservation, I will ask my father if what he does is legal and to stop it”
“I didn’t like to see skulls; many elephants are killed”. This was in response to the elephant memorial which shows the scale of the elephant poaching with 10,000 elephants killed since 2010.
“Conservation is to keep, to protect so that we can use in the future”
“Elephants are good because they help our mothers to collect firewood. Elephants break branches of trees, when those branches dry mothers go and collect them”