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South African Wildlife College Graduates Inspired by C.A.R.E.

This week C.A.R.E. welcomed Linda Bocian and Carolyn Barnes to the sanctuary along with six graduate students from the South African Wildlife College. Carolyn and Linda are missionaries, Founders and Directors of Rainbow Eco-Farm & Training Centre. C.A.R.E. hosted a Wildlife Ambassadors Training Workshop, sponsored and organised by REFTC.

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The Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC) was conceptualized in 1993 and established in 1996 by the World Wide Fund for Nature, South Africa (WWF South Africa) in close cooperation with interested and affected parties in southern Africa, including national and provincial government departments, other conservation agencies and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Since its inception, and with the support of WWF-SA and Peace Parks Foundation, the College has trained over 10,000 people from 26 countries in Africa (http://www.wildlifecollege.org.za).

Carolyn Bocian Ph.D., a primatologist, biologist and educator along with Linda Barnes (teacher and educator) established Rainbow Eco-Farm and Training Center (REFTC), a South African non-profit based near Johannesburg to break the spirit of poverty in this country by empowering underprivileged teens and young adults through education and training and to inspire compassionate care-taking of the land and the animals.

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The students were an absolute pleasure. Initially they were a little apprehensive about 'baboons', a species which in their culture is surrounded by negative perceptions; witch craft and crop pests. One student described how the baboons were generally seen as 'the enemy'. With class-based learning (we used what will be our baboon food prep-kitchen as a classroom) and direct observations over the period of a few days the students all fell in love with our charming, cheeky chacma baboons. They were amazed how human-like the baboons were. The students observed that they each had a personality and needed to be with their own kind to be happy and be a true baboon. The women described how they learned that the baboons priorities were much the same as their own; to take care and feed their family and children, their friendship bonds and what they described as 'love'. The students each did a presentation at the end of their stay and we were as much inspired by them as they were the baboons and us. The presentations were empowering, delivering the powerful conservation message that the baboons are important and need protection.

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Carolyn and the students also visited the release camp. They enjoyed cooking pap on the camp fire, learning about the release process and finally catching a short glimpse of the baboons.

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Managing Director Stephen Munro is in his absolute element out at the release site facilitating the release process. He truly is one of a kind and the students were impressed with his dedication. The release is going really well, meaning it was hard for the students to see the baboons. After some time they were lucky to see some of their beautiful bums walking away, following the wild male which has claimed the troop as his own. Later on through binoculars they were able to observe some of the purple ear-tags we are trialling as a means for Nature Conservation to identify the baboons as the baboons moved far away into the mountains in the distance.

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C.A.R.E. would like to thank Carolyn and Linda of Rainbow Eco-Farm & Training Center for organising the wonderful few days. We would also like to thank the dedicated and passionate graduates from the Southern African Wildlife College and wish them luck as they embark on their careers as Wildlife Ambassadors. We are so excited that they will never forget their experience with the baboons and will go-onwards with a passion for baboons too.

We hope this will be the first of many workshops like this one and are dedicated to developing C.A.R.E. in a way that we can deliver environmental education. Education is key to promoting compassion towards wildlife and the only thing that in the longterm will inspire habitat protection and protection of the baboon species. In order to facilitate these workshops we need to continue with our rebuild plans and we are presently fundraising to build a sheltered 'class-room' as the baboon food preparation / Milk Kitchen will be shortly being used as it is intended to be once the nursery is built in that area.

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If you want to help us achieve our fundraising goals to build a class-room at C.A.R.E. then please make a donation; http://www.primatecare.org/#!donate/ch07

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