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NATURE RESERVES OF GAUTENGRescue Centres and Educational InitiativesPhoto Credit: Sudhir Misra : inyourpocket.comCailin FourieGauteng is home to numerous natures reserves - all boasting Africa’s finest specimens. Their beauty often leaves the beholder in awe - but a spectacular visual experience is not all that they bring to the proverbial table. As well informed as we are about nature, there is a plethora of knowledge missing from our brain books. Mother earth is a delicate creature. There are only 2 ways to conserve her power: creating awareness by educating ourselves, and implementing regenerative practices. Unfortunately, the human imprint on this delicate creature is not always an understanding, or helpful one. Often, our unthinking interaction with nature can cause environmental damage, and sometimes even result in some creatures losing their natural habitats.
Luckily, there are a vast number of institutions in Gauteng, that are dedicated to informing the public and proving information on how to best look after our most precious resources. One example of such an institution is the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve in Johannesburg. They offer educational school tours facilitated by knowledgeable and experienced field guides. These tours cover a variety of educational spheres related to the stunning surroundings. They cover everything from life sciences to art education, and of course, environmental education. Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo also spearhead an educational initiative that operates in 4 different locations (Soweto, Emmarentia, Paulshof, and The Wilds Municipal Park). Although these programmes operate in various areas, they all have the same goal: stimulating an integrated approach to environmental education that will create enhanced environmental literacy and appropriate environmental responses. They achieve this through various school programmes, greening initiatives, environmental awareness-raising initiatives, and capacity raising initiatives. FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitationin Johannesburg is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the rehabilitation of sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. Their goal is to conserve wildlife by any means necessary and to release animals back into their natural habitat after a successful rehabilitation period. They have successfully rehabilitated numerous wildlife animals and set an example of what can be achieved through caring for those integral to ecosystems and biodiversity, who cannot speak for themselves. FreeMe Wildlife Rehabilitation operates with core values of integrity, ethical practices, environmentally sound behaviour, which are all fundamental in respectfully restoring elements of nature that have been harmed. So, while on the one hand our human impact on our natural environment is not always helpful, some of the excellent work done by our Gauteng Nature Reserve Rescue Centres and Educational Initiatives (on the other hand) goes a long way in mitigating the less helpful effects.Nature is a complex web woven with interlinking mechanisms of animals, insects, plants, mountains, and oceans to name a few elements. It is vital that we repair and rehabilitate any part of the chain (if it is within our means) should it be damaged by human hand, or by natural selection.