Coaching for Conservation

Project LocationGrahamstown, South Africa & Maun, Botswana
Project TypeRural schools development

Coaching for Conservation

Coaching For Conservation® (C4C) is an environmental education program that has been developed over the past decade by the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BPCT) and is currently being run in Botswana and South Africa. The focus in Botswana is human/predator conflict, while in South Africa the core focus point is rhino conservation and awareness. The primary goal of C4C is to inspire a generation of kids that care about themselves, others and the natural world around them. The use of sport as the vehicle for change in conjunction with the unique Learning from Wildlife model is a creative way of teaching about critical conservation issues through a process of learning about animals, from animals, and eventually how to help them. C4C is able to move children from being kids who are told to care, to kids who really do care about animals and the natural world around them, and inspiring them to take action. 

To date, C4C has reached close to 10,000 children with its programs; including short and long-term interventions for individual students, classes and entire schools. Long-term data collection has shown the programs to successfully influence attitudes, behaviour, empathy, values and self-worth in a positive way. The belief is that by improving understanding of how our actions impact on the environment in a variety of communities, through a variety of mediums, we have the potential to reduce the human impact on wildlife by changing the core values and attitudes of whole communities. 

Learning from Wildlife

The link between sport, health and conservation are not always immediately obvious, but C4C is tackling issues with an innovative sports curriculum which marries football skills to conservation and wildlife messages by using games and skill sets taught through animal coaches and animal behavior. Leopards, for example, are territorial animals successful in the wild because they are good at hunting, but they respect each other’s space. On the soccer field we can learn to maintain your own position, and strive to be the best dribbler or best shooter, while respecting each other’s positions on the field. The conservation message linked to the leopard coach is to teach that everyone (an animal, too) has the right to a territory in a healthy habitat that includes food, water, shelter and space. By extension, one learns the value of Botswana’s wildlife and its habitat.  In this way, the animals that we want to see protected become familiar mentors on the sports field, enabling a relationship of respect while creating an empathetic link directly to the species.

Tusk Support

Tusk is a long term a partner of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust  and has been an ongoing sponsor of C4C in Botswana since 2008.

In 2010 Tusk introduced Investec Asset Management to C4C, with them also becoming an invaluable sponsor to the project. In 2011, Tusk and Investec's support enabled the construction and equipping of a conservation education centre in Maun, as well as the acquisition of a bus to transport kids to their afternoon programmes. 

Notes from the field
The idea to use sport to trigger social change came about when Lesley McNutt, Vice Chair of Botswana’s Predator Conservation Trust, was watching the local Shorobe football team play in Botswana’s Northern football league.

The team that Lesley was supporting on the day was appropriately called the Shorobe Wild Dogs. While watching the match, Lesley came to realize the impact that popular sport had on viewers, the players, passers-by and the village in general. More importantly, Lesley believed she noticed a shift in the way that the team perceived wild dogs - especially as they chanted ‘Letlhalerwa’ (‘wild dogs’ in Setswana) as the team walked form the pitch to the village.

If only we could figure out how to capture some of the natural enthusiasm for sport and channel it into conservation challenges, we would have a winning formula.
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