A while ago I posted about this fantastic musical event being held in Bulawayo to celebrate the five large carnivores. The project has been two years in the making, involving 10 local schools and over 500 children, and the first performance of the song was just spectacular!
The event was officially opened by the Mayor of Bulawayo and the British and Australian Ambassadors to Zimbabwe also attended.
All agreed it was a perfect way to raise awareness of the animals, as well enhancing the music ability of the children, and the capacity of their music teachers.
Sadly, the project is almost over in Zimbabwe, with a final all encompassing afternoon event planned for the Intwasa Festival where the poetry and art submitted by children over the last 18months will be displayed and performed, a choral version of the music performed and visiting experts will give talks to the public about the five species.
But, fortunately, it wont end there! There is now a performance of the music planned for October in the UK, being organized by the Range Wide Programme for cheetah and wild dog conservation. We are hoping all this will help to raise the profile of these two unique species – something they very much need and deserve.
Full credit for all of this goes to Dr Netty Purchase, Southern African coordinator of the Range Wide Program, an incredibly energetic and resourceful person.
Have a look at this link on YouTube for a short video of the Song of the Carnivores…
Sorry I’ve been quiet for a while. I’ve been at a wild dog symposium in Namibia and only just back. On the way back I stayed the night in Bulawayo and had the great privilege to attend a rehearsal of a fantastic performance being put on at the Bulawayo Music Festival on Thursday. This is an initiative called Song of the Carnivores – and is the culmination of months of hard work by a fantastic team of people.
The Rangewide Program for cheetah and wild dog in southern Africa, the Bulawayo Academy of Music and the British Council have teamed up to help produce an amazing musical extravanganza. Involving 500 children from Bulawayo, the Song of the Carnivores is a half an hour piece of music, composed and organised by composer Richard Sisson and sung by local school kids, which captures the characters of all the five large carnivore species in Zimbabwe.
At the rehearsal I went to, seeing the song, with it’s beautiful lyrics, sung by hundreds of students actually brought tears to my eyes. The lyrics and composition are spectacular and the whole program has had incredible education benefits to all students involved.
So if anyone is in Bulawayo on Thursday, you absolutely must go and see this performance. And even if you aren’t in Bulawayo – make a plan to get there! It will be the highlight of your year! It’s at the Large City Hall in Bulawayo at 5:00pm on Thursday 24th and costs only $2. It’s a must-see and all part of the Zimbabwean carnivore conservation effort.
More on it after the event.
As I mentioned in the last post, I recently went to Bulawayo to give a lecture, but in addition to that several talks had been arranged for me to give at different schools – both primary and secondary – around Bulawayo. At the risk of being boring, the topic was, of course, wild dogs!
The secondary schools got a relatively informative presentation, and I was impressed by the interest and questions afterwards, which showed a good understanding of the topic and a keen interest.
The primary schools were a little more daunting – what on earth do you do with 600+ children from 4 years old upwards?!
Well, after talking to them briefly about what wild dogs were, we soon got them up and about, with 1 being an impala and then ‘packs’ of 1, 3 or 10 ‘wild dogs’ trying to catch the impala, to teach them about the benefits of cooperative hunting. We also played other games with groups of boys and girls making packs, and then having to split up into single sex groups and run around until we shouted stop, at which point they had to quickly try to find a group of the other sex…. the mechanism (sort of!) by which wild dogs disperse and form new packs. It was all a lot of fun and the kids were wildly enthusiastic.
Altogether we spoke to about 11 different schools, and I hope that those students will not forget what a special animal the wild dog is. I must add my thanks to Netty Purchase and Phumizile Sibanda for organizing it all, and to Alliance Francaise for funding the program.
I just got back from a few days in Bulawayo where I had a hectic schedule talking to schools and giving a lecture. Netty Purchase, the range-wide coordinator for cheetah and wild dog in southern Africa, together with the Alliance Francaise have organized an amazing collection of events about carnivores, under the umbrella of ‘The Song of the Carnivores’. Last week it was wild dog week, and I was invited to give the wild dog lecture as part of a series on “dispelling the myths” of large carnivores.
My topic was “Dispelling the myths that wild dogs are cruel hunters that decimate prey populations”. It was an evening lecture with a great turnout and very positive feedback, and I hope it’s done a little bit to help people see through traditional prejudices and realize what incredible animals wild dogs are. Even people who were known not to be too keen on wild dogs were heard muttering “it almost makes you love them”!!
Excitingly, this initiative has gained so much support and enthusiasm, it may be adopted in several other countries in southern Africa, which is just great. The whole project includes music, poetry, art and these lecture series, involving hundreds of schools and individuals in Zimbabwe.
Here I am just after the lecture with Netty (far right) and Phumizile Sibanda (sec0nd from right) who will be giving the leopard talk next month. Such a great initiative and it is a privilge to be part of it.