Changing perspectives

Jiba Magwaza, Junior Field Officer, Threatened Amphibian Programme

jibam@ewt.org.za

Winter is almost upon us, and it is time for our frogs to hibernate. While most amphibians hibernate during this season, some of our amazing frogs are still calling and active in field. The Striped Stream Frog and the Common River Frog are two species of frogs that remain active all year round and can be heard calling throughout the cooler months. These two special frogs are much more tolerant of the cold and can breed in all seasons. The EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme (TAP) has also continued to work on exciting projects into autumn. We have been engaging local schools in Isipingo, Durban, to gauge knowledge on wetland habitats and overcome fears about frogs.

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The work is the result of a project that we have recently started thanks to funding from Tiger Brands to promote sustainable livelihoods in the area through wetland-friendly vegetable gardens, and the development of Small-to-Medium-to-Micro Enterprises (SMMEs). During April, we engaged with 450 learners from Thamela Primary and Igagasi High School with our “Frogs in the Classroom” approach. During our primary school engagement, the grade 5 classes were asked to draw a picture of a wetland and all animals and plants that they think occur in or use wetlands. We then visited the primary school to educate learners about the function and importance of wetlands. We also showed them a live Guttural Toad and used it to talk about a frog’s life cycle and their importance as bio-indicators. On our third visit, we asked the learners to draw a new picture of a wetland to gauge whether their understanding of wetlands had increased in response to our environmental education lessons.

Our high school engagement was a little different. During the first visit, we asked learners to complete a survey, comprised of about twenty questions, to understand attitudes to and knowledge about frogs and wetlands. In our second visit, we educated them about the importance and functions of wetlands and frogs as part of biodiversity. In our third visit, we asked learners to complete the attitude survey again to gauge whether any change in their attitude towards the environment had taken place in response to our engagement. We are currently in the process of analysing the data and hope we do get results showing a positive attitude towards the environment. We are also developing environmental programmes and enviro-clubs for these schools, and aim to work with them throughout the year.

Thank you to Tiger Brands for making this work possible.

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