The autumn months at Thornybush Private Game Reserve are a beautiful time for photographers to visit, with falling leaves and winter-flowering species starting to bloom. The animals are also moving close to water sources from their lush summer habitats. This May, the reserve was privileged to host a group of young photographers from the Wild Shots Outreach Program to share in the bounty.
About Wild Shots Outreach Program
Many of Mpumalanga’s poorest communities live on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park and its surrounding private reserves. Children in these communities rarely get to experience this natural bounty right on their doorstep or take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
The Wild Shots Outreach Program strives to put an end to this by engaging young people from these disadvantaged communities through photography. High school students who live closest to the Kruger are prioritised.
Through photography lessons, the program helps to promote creativity and encourage a love of nature in these young people, at the same time teaching them new skills.
The program was set up in November 2015 upon realising that:
- There were no South African photographers of colour to represent the country at the Wild Shots wildlife photography conference and,
- Most students living close to the Kruger National park had no experience of wildlife.
Using the tools at their disposal, Wild Shots set about to transform the way these children view wildlife and conservation.
Photography as Education
The battle for establishing a conservation culture in the country is won and lost in the classroom. Wild Shots takes advantage of the children’s environment to encourage a deeper appreciation and understanding for the environment and conservation. They do this by helping them to see the beauty of their surroundings through the lens of a camera.
The Wild Shots photography course is spread over 5 lessons, incorporating hands-on workshops. The pinnacle of the program is a game drive to try out their new skills. Each school receives a camera so that the students can continue to practise what they have learned and the students each receive a certificate highlighting their achievements.
Courses take place either at the school, during the week, or over a weekend at a nearby game reserve. Thornybush was pleased to welcome 8 students from Phendulani High School for the duration of their training.
Thornybush is proud to include this inspirational initiative in its portfolio of community projects and looks forward to continuing their relationship with the Wild Shots Outreach Program.
The next time you upgrade your camera, memory card or laptop, don’t send it to a landfill, Wild Shots can put your unwanted photography equipment to good use instead.