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The North Luangwa education programme was launched in 2003 to coincide with the arrival of the first relocated black rhinos. The programme is now officially named ‘Lolesha Luangwa,’ which means ‘look after Luangwa’ in the local Bemba language. The overall aim is to create a sense of ownership and responsibility for the conservation of the North Luangwa Valley and its black rhinos using it as the focal species for engaging and educating children.

Rhino Roadshow North Luangwa (Photo: Claire Lewis)
"Rhino Roadshow" with the SEKA theatre group.

Lolesha Luangwa tackles conservation education and awareness from several angles to ensure messages are delivered and more importantly passed on to parents and the wider community. There are 21 schools taking part and four strands to the programme: a 17- lesson curriculum has been developed that is taught by schools’ teaching staff throughout the academic year; FZS officers deliver four special black rhino focussed presentations to each school; a community event is organised annually in each participating school community; and a specially adapted truck brings school groups into the park for overnight visits.

More than 1,500 Grade 6 (11 – 14 years old) pupils benefit each year from this award-winning, interactive and innovative programme, which leads pupils from start to end through fact-based knowledge lessons to exploring the interdependence of ecosystems, on to discovering how humans impact upon natural processes, and finally how each and every one of us can have a positive bearing on our local environment.

At the centre of the programme we use the black rhino to illustrate each step. For example, the students will learn about mammals from their teachers during one of their school lessons, then this is reinforced with a later visit from the FZS team who deliver a presentation about black rhinos as mammals. Then ecology and rhino ecology marry, poaching and rhino poaching pair up, and conservation practices and rhino conservation are associated.

In 2015, the truck was sent on a rhino roadshow with the SEKA theatre group. They visited each of the 21 communities and performed the play ‘Horn of Sorrow.’ And since 2014, groups of 20 school children are brought into North Luangwa National Park to experience wildlife first hand for 3-day-visits. It is often the first time these children will see an elephant or a zebra close up. Many groups have been lucky enough to see a rhino, and the newly formed canine wildlife crime detection unit was a big highlight.

The annual cost to implement Lolesha Luangwa is about € 50,000, currently funded by Save the Rhino International, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.