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From the lion’s cage: a new education programme at Munda Wanga Environmental Park

Volume 1 Number 2 - October 2004
Emma Stone

Summary

Munda Wanga Botanic Garden was founded by Ralph Sander in 1950.  It was the show piece of Zambia for many years but following Sander’s death it entered a period of decline until it was taken over by the Munda Wanga Charitable Trust in 2000.  This article describes the regeneration of the park and in particular the development of the environmental education programme.  Using an old concrete lion cage, an Education Centre has been created which now houses a library, two education rooms, an interpretation room and an office.  Other old cages have been used to construct habitat zones, reflecting those found in Zambia.  Thanks to the funding and support from Chester Zoo (UK) and Bronx Zoo (USA) a great deal has been achieved in the education programme.  This article documents these achievements and provides hope for other parks and gardens in similar situations.  

Introduction

Founded by Ralph Sander in 1950, Munda Wanga  (meaning ‘My Garden’ in Nyanja) was a botanical garden destined to be the show piece of Zambia. After the death of Ralph  in 1978 the estate was sold to the government. Under government control the park continued to develop and gained many animal exhibits, including Bengal Tigers and American Black Bears donated by the Chipperfield circus.

Overtime however, the park was left to decay and in 1986 was finally offered for sale. Munda Wanga Limited took over the estate in 1998 and the Munda Wanga Charitable Trust was formed in 2000. Today the park and gardens are undergoing a complete rehabilitation programme, with new enclosures being built and endangered species breeding and propagation programmes well under way.

After two years of rehabilitation it was obvious that with over 55 per cent of visitors comprising children in school groups, there was a need for some educational activities at Munda Wanga. In 2000 a park-based education programme and interpretation centre was created. Since its creation in 2000, significant developments have been made. The early beginnings included a workshop funded by local companies to brainstorm ideas and develop links for the project.

After gaining ideas and local support work commenced on developing an Education Centre to provide teaching facilities and a base for the education programme.  Reflecting the ethos of Munda Wanga, it was decided to use the existing resources; the old concrete lion cage. It was felt that this concrete building would be a fantastic location for the Education Centre, giving the public an idea of what it would have been like living behind bars.

Still under development are the old holding cages around the main building which will be used to create habitat zones that reflect those found within Zambia. Today with funding from the British High Commission, Bronx Zoo (USA) Chester Zoo (UK) and Cricket St Thomas Wildlife Park (UK), the centre now houses a well stocked library, two fully functioning education rooms, an interpretation room and education office.

With funding and support from Chester Zoo and Bronx Zoo, the programme has also benefited from a number of capacity building initiatives. In 2003 a full time Zambian educator was hired to conduct and develop park based education programmes. This was supplemented by an in-house training programme for gardeners and security guards, and resulted in the recruitment of a gardener as a full time education assistant. In September 2003 a week long teacher training workshop was conducted within the Education Centre courtesy of WCS Bronx Zoo (USA). The workshop, conducted by Tom Naiman (WCS) and the Munda Wanga education staff enabled over 30 educators from all over the country to learn and develop new educational activities and techniques. This programme was a fantastic success and will be followed by other workshops in the coming year.

During this time Munda Wanga was continuing to develop links and networks within the Zambian Environmental Education community. Having played an active role in the development of the Zambian Network of Environmental Educators and Practitioners (ZANEEP) the Education Manager at Munda Wanga was elected as Vice President at the first AGM in 2002. The AGM was hosted by Munda Wanga and this development was a great boost for Munda Wanga’s education programme as a whole, placing it at the centre of environmental education activities across the country.

On an international scale Munda Wanga has reached out still further. After being funded by Chester Zoo to attend the African Zoo and Reserve Educators (AZOREN) conference in 2001, the Education Department at Munda Wanga offered to host the 3rd AZOREN conference in 2003. With funding from Chester Zoo, WCS Bronx Zoo, and the International Zoo Educators Association (IZE), the conference was a great success and was attended by over thirty delegates from more than nine African countries.

On the back of these developments the education team is now working hard to develop comprehensive park based education programmes. This has been an ongoing process, assisted greatly by input from world class educators at WCS Bronx Zoo.  A number of workshops and themed outreach initiatives have commenced including a community based pet trade awareness campaign aimed at sensitising local people about the problems of keeping primates as pets. A park based outreach programme has also been ongoing, which with funds and logistical support from Toyota Zambia enables the education department to bring underprivileged groups to the park for education activities. It is clear that the education programme at Munda Wanga has come a long way, however there is much more to do. Future plans include the development of an in-situ outreach programme within the rural communities in Zambia and comprehensive education programmes incorporating both botanical and wildlife tours and activities.

The progress of the education programme at Munda Wanga provides hope for other parks and gardens in similar situations. Anything is possible, even with little or few resources, as long as you have determination, passion and patience.

For futher details about the education programme visit mundawanga.com or email environment@zamnet.zm, biopark@zamnet.zm. For further details about ZANEEP contact the Secretary General on ecz@necz.org.zm. For information about AZOREN contact the AZOREN president Francis Maina at whwfec@wananchi.com.

Resumé

Le jardin botanique de Munda Wanga a été fondé par Ralph Sander en 1950. Il a été la vitrine de la Zambie durant de nombreuses années, mais après le décès de Sanders, il est entré dans une période de déclin jusqu’à ce qu’il soit repris par le Munda Wanga Charitable Trust en 2000. Cet article décrit la renaissance du Parc  et en particulier le développement de programmes éducatifs sur l’environnement. Utilisant une ancienne cage au lion en béton, un centre d’éducation a été créé qui abrite maintenant une bibliothèque, deux salles pour les activités éducatives, une salle d’interprétation, et un bureau. D’autres anciennes cages ont été utilisées pour reconstituer des habitats évoquant ceux que l’on trouve en Zambie. Grâce aux financement et à l’aide du zoo de Chester (Grande Bretagne) et du Zoo du Bronx (Etats-Unis), beaucoup a été réalisé dans les programmes éducatifs. Cet article donne des informations sur ces réalisations et apporte de l’espoir aux autres Parcs qui sont dans une situation similaire.


Resumen

El Jardín Botánico Munda Wanga fue fundado por Ralph Sander en 1950. Fue la obra maestra de Zambia por muchos años, hasta que después de la muerte de su fundador declinó para ser rescatado por la Fundación Caritativa Munda Wanga en el año 2000.

Este artículo describe la regeneración del parque y en particular el desarrollo del programa de educación ambiental. En una antigua jaula para leones de concreto se construyó el Centro de Educación el cual incluye una biblioteca, dos salones de educación, una sala de interpretación y una oficina. Otras jaulas viejas se han utilizado para construir diversos habitats de Zambia. Gracias al financiamiento del Zoológico de Chester (Reino Unido) y del Zoológico del Bronx (Estados Unidos) se han obtenido importantes logros que pueden motivar a otros parques y jardines en situaciones similares.

 

Emma Stone is the Former Education Manager of Munda Wanga Environmental Park.  Emma can be contacted via Chester Zoo, Upton-by-Chester, Chester CH2 1LH, UK. www.chesterzoo.org

 
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