By: Dr Judy Mann
After a day and a half of rainy skies, the sun came out to welcome us to Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve in the heart of Durban. After the bus dropped the families off at the entrance, they were introduced to the uShaka Sea World Education staff enthusiastic macro-photographer, Warren Dick. Dick was selected as the ideal guide at Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve.
As we quietly walked up the road through the forest to the car park picnic site, we could hear the birds in the trees and passed South Africa’s national tree, the yellowwood. On the journey we started to pick out the small animals such as the familiar brightly coloured Elegant grasshopper – known in isiZulu as “intothoviyane”. At the picnic site we were met by a group of calm resident zebras and many selfies were taken by excited children … and adults.
After a short picnic Warren showed us a wonderful variety of small, beautiful animals including bright flower mantises, Picasso bugs and the bright green African bush grasshopper. Some of the children were brave enough and allowed this ticklish insect to walk over their hands. The best thing about these small creatures was that, once found, they stayed around so that all 60 children had the chance to see them. It took us about 1.5 hours to cover less than a kilometer because we saw so much, including impala! The children commented with surprise at the end of the walk that there was no litter to pick up along the way.
One of the parents said that for many days after each of these trips the children kept telling stories about what they had experienced.
Thank you to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for giving us access and to Warren for showing us how to slow down and look at nature more closely. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to run this project with the support of the International Zoo Educators Association / World Association of Zoos and Aquaria Nature Connect partnership. If you haven’t already applied for the programme we strongly encourage you to do so before the end of March.