Saving the Birds was the task of our 40 ‘time travellers’ from John Graham Primary, Hyde Park Primary, Lotus High and Pelican Park Primary and high school, at Princess Vlei on April 24.
In an event organised by the Princess Vlei Forum, the learners role-played visitors from a future without birds. Their task was to go out and observe the birds at Princess Vlei, think about what the bird need to survive, and come up with the ideas for how we can ensure that we have birds in the future.
Before they went, Brendon Bussy explained what the world was like in 3015, and explained the task. Then a 'spirit guide' (Bridget Pitt from the Princess Vlei Forum) described what Princess Vlei might have looked like one thousand years before, when it would have been a wide, shallow vlei inhabited by thousands of birds.
The children then worked in teams, making observations, sketching birds, plants and other wildlife that they spotted, and thinking about what the birds need to live. They were helped by the time lords (Brendon Bussy, Paul Hendricks, Emma Oliver, Christopher Gregorowski, Kit Dorje, Ebrahim Abrahams and Ingrid Solomons). There were also helped by the Bird Guardians from the Cape Bird Club – Celia Wolfe, Anne Whitelock, Gillian Barnes and Anne McLeod.
The participants came up with many suggestions of how birds can be saved, such as creating sanctuaries, stopping pollution, and keeping water clean.
Kacey Jacobs, a Grade 6 learner from Hyde Park Primary commented, ‘When I heard about how the vlei was one thousand years ago, compared to how it is in 2015, I realised that we have to find ways to make a difference now otherwise we will have no birds in the future.’
Ingrid Solomons, a teacher at Hyde Park Primary, had this to say:
'Through this experience, the children are learning to appreciate the environment in general as well as the vlei in itself because I know that they have never been made aware of how much the vlei has to offer environmentally although they literally live right opposite the vlei.
'The whole experience was educational at so many levels a true outdoor classroom. The fact that it was in the form of a game made it that much more interesting for the learners. They had to work as a team, observe, draw, find and collect evidence and eventually report back. Though all of this they find there strengths and weakness and areas they can improve on.'
At the end of the day, each time traveller was awarded a certificate recognising that they are a true guardian of the future. The future of Princess Vlei’s birds, and birds everywhere, is in good hands judging by these young guardians.
The Save the Birds event marks the launch of our Flight of Dreams programme. Flight of Dreams is a collaboration between the Princess Vlei Forum, Jungle Theatre Company, eMzantsi Carnival and the Frank Joubert Art Centre. Through a series of events and workshops, local school children will learn more about the birds at Princess Vlei, and create giant puppets and masks celebrating the birds. These will be carried in a carnival parade through Grassy Park to Princess Vlei on 26th September, 2015. The parade will also feature drama and dance performances. All are welcome to participate.