January 21, 2021

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Cape Leopard Trust launches ‘Footprints in the Fynbos’ for kids

4 min read

The trust’s environmental education project recently celebrated 10 years of its innovative Experiential Education (EE) programme of activities, which include wilderness camps, eco-clubs, day
outings, holiday programmes and presentations for youngsters.

Unfortunately, in March, the EE team was forced to stop all direct contact work as a result of lockdown restrictions, forcing them to adapt and rethink their teaching model. E-learning soon became the order of the day and the newly created collection of online lessons, career showcases and virtual hikes were well received.

Nature activity book doubles as teaching resource

The lockdown also presented an ideal opportunity to work on a long-standing dream – creating a children’s book that could double as a teaching resource in the EE programmes — and so Footprints in the Fynbos was born.

The book and its Afrikaans counterpart Voetspore in die Fynbos are a collaborative effort drawing on 16 years’ worth of Cape Leopard Trust research, the writing art of children’s book author Liza M Roux and engaging illustrations by Judy Maré.

Footprints in the Fynbos was launched at the end of October at an intimate event hosted by the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Stellenbosch, Cederberg Wines and Regina Mundi Global Advisors. Attended by private, corporate and NGO partners, the evening included a screening of the Cape Leopard Trust short film For the Love of Leopards and a book reading in the garden’s amphitheatre.

Book an important legacy project

Cape Leopard Trust book launch
A reading of the book is conducted in the amphitheatre of the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden in Stellenbosch. Image: Supplied

“It’s important that our education work can inspire and nurture a new generation of African conservationists who understand why we need to protect leopards in the Cape for the benefit of nature and society,” Cape Leopard Trust CEO Helen Turnbull said.

The trust’s education and outreach manager, Chris Eksteen, agreed.

“Together we can get children back in nature, we can improve literacy, increase knowledge, spread the
conservation message and ensure the long-term survival of leopards and their habitats.”

The launch also officially opened an exhibition of junior art pieces submitted to the trust’s annual youth art competition over the past years. The display, titled Leopards of the Cape – Surviving Against All Odds, was up at the garden until mid-November.

More about ‘Footprints in the Fynbos’

The book consists of three sections – a leopard-focussed story, a facts section and activity pages.

Set in the Cape Mountains, the story follows Leeto the leopard on his journey to find a friend, meeting many characters along the way and learning valuable life lessons.

The second part of the book is a selection of easily digestible facts, while the final section includes fun activities for young and old.

The goal was to offer an accessible and entertaining activity book aimed at participants aged 7-14, introducing them to leopards and the trust, explaining the importance of conservation, and encouraging youngsters to take interest and pride in their natural environment.

Future vision for the book

Cape Leopard Trust book launch
Private, corporate and NGO partners at the launch evening at which children’s artwork was also exhibited. Image: Supplied

The book is written in an engaging, fun-to-read style, and the learning outcomes are approached in a playful, interactive manner.

The educational teaching and learning resources contained in the book are aligned with the South African school curriculum and the book is written in a dyslexic-friendly font with weighted characters.

The trust is working with partners on an isiXhosa translation, as well as a South African sign language interpretation of the story, and an audiobook in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa to aid its teachings to hearing- and visually impaired pupils.

Much wider distribution for ‘Footprints in the Fynbos’

Though the book was originally intended as a teaching tool for the Cape Leopard Trust’s EE programme, it quickly became clear there was a wider need for this kind of resource, Cape Leopard Trust communications manager Jeannie Hayward said.

“It was decided also to offer the book for sale and so far, the response has been overwhelming. Each book sold enables us to gift another book to an underprivileged child in South Africa, many of whom have never had a book to call their own.”

One of the trust’s longstanding partners, Regina Mundi Global Advisers, has agreed to sponsor 150 books to under-resourced schools in the trust’s study areas.

Where to get the book

Footprints in the Fynbos/Voetspore in die Fynbos is from the Cape Leopard Trust online shop at R160 excluding shipping.

It is also available from a number of external stockists — check www.capeleopard.org.za.

Anyone who can help the trust realise its vision to make the book available to isiXhosa, as well as visually challenged and hearing-impaired pupils, can contact Chris Eksteen at [email protected]