Creating awareness to the Namibian youngest audience with cartoons – poaching

As you are reading this, millions of species worldwide are being killed or taken from their native habitat. Poaching poses a big threat to many animals like elephants and rhino, as well as to smaller and more incomprehensible creatures, like lizards, snakes and pangolins. The topic on poaching can at times be complex and difficult to explain to the young children. But TOSCO and PAKO teamed up to make learning fun while explaining the importance of conservation and looking after Namibia’s natural resources and wildlife through cartoons.

Why animals are poached

Some animals are captured alive to be sold as exotic pets. Some other animals, on the other hand, are slaughtered for a commercial value, such as food, jewelry, décor or traditional medicine. 

The effects of poaching

Poaching has various effects; the most direct impact is extinction resulting in a natural imbalance. Every single animal has a specific function in the environment. By removing these animals, an imbalance of the natural environment is created.

Another negative effect of poaching is on rangers charged with protecting wildlife. Poachers are mostly armed, leading to the possibility of rangers getting wounded or gunned down.

Efforts to stop poaching

Besides providing on-the-ground protection, countries like Namibia, have developed programs to convert past poachers to rangers. There are organizations that are promoting sustainable alternatives to poachering to help people earn a fair living.   

Several laws have also been put in place to penalize illegal poaching.

But to further the importance of stopping poaching, TOSCO and PAKO joined forces to raise awareness amongst Namibians children on the importance of looking after the environment and its wildlife. In partnership with international artists, like Juan Bellorin, they create exciting comics which makes the message more accessible and fun through storytelling.

“We believe that teaching the next generation at an early age will make them become proactive adults who are concerned about the welfare of the environment they live in”. 

The  Venezuelan lawyer and artist, Juan Vicente Bellorin met up with us to  tells  his story of how he became a comic creator after graduating from law at the “Universidad de los Andes”, and how he decided to hang out his tie and take the brushes instead to create stories. 

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TOSCO and LightForce supports conservancies with solar power

Nowadays most of us take energy for granted, forgetting that we use it for everything. From home to work, from the way we entertain ourselves to how we connect with our loved ones. Everything requires electricity. The lack of energy can affect everything, from business to education to public health. The reality is that today approximately 1.3 billion people worldwide still do not have access to energy. This also involves the rural, disadvantaged communities in North West Namibia. But with support from TOSCO and LightForce, we have shown that the power of the sun can make a real difference.

Technology to change the world

2019 was the second warmest year recorded in history and every day there is more evidence that our unsustainable impact on the environment is causing disasters worldwide. We can notice how fragile and vulnerable the ecosystem is by looking at African countries. Namibia, for example, is not one of the countries that generates the most carbon emissions, in comparison to western countries. However, it is one of the first countries strongly affected by climate change. 

Technology is changing almost faster than we can keep up. Technology is changing the way we live, work and, relate to one another. Now more than ever, the use of new technologiesy has the potential to reduce environmental degradation.

Could solar lights offer a solution?

There are a lot of debates on how to bring energy to underprivileged rural areas. To expand national electricity grids is one of the options. However, to build a large-scale infrastructure in remote areas like Kunene region is expensive and difficult to maintain. Besides, the concerns about climate change combined with the battery prices are unattractive for national investment and international donors. 

While climate change has made many Western countries increase their efforts to improve energy investing in renewable energies, developing countries are still facing this challenge. And that while most developing countries are geographically located for optimal absorption of sunlight. Could solar lights offer a solution?

Scientists, social entrepreneurs and big tech companies around the world are working to make strides with solar power. These products have low up-front costs, need little maintenance and do not pose the running problems typically associated with electricity grids.

LightForce

LightForce is a global initiative helping companies and individuals to change the world by bringing solar powered lights to communities.

After the success of the first edition in Kenya in 2018, the LightForce project was expanded in 2019 in three more countries: Brazil, Senegal, Philippines. The operation took place simultaneously in the first week of February 2019 with 60 Salesforce employees, 30 employees from other companies and around 50 volunteers of the NGO Liter of Light; resulting in:

LightForce Team
  • Over 3000 volunteer hours
  • More than €350 000 raised
  • 11 000 lives impacted
  • Over 100 employees and customers.

The project in Namibia 

In May 2019, the LightForce team contacted TOSCO Trust (Tourism Supporting Conservation) , asking to assist them in developing the project in Namibia by organizing the logistics beforehand and helping on site. TOSCO arranged vehicles, drivers, transport of material and components and, communicated with the conservancies.

The first week of February 2020, TOSCO Trust welcomed 17 members of this International NGO coming from France. Our common goal? To assemble and install, together with the local people, solar powered LED lights systems in the North-West of Namibia.

In consultancy with the conservancies and lion rangers, TOSCO identified the locations where the solar light was needed the most: villages and kraals Anabeb, Torra, Purros and Tomakas conservancies. 

We built two different types of solar LED lighting systems that are cheaper, brighter and healthier than the kerosene lights that the locals normally use in the villages:

House lights

Many people in the North-West of Namibia rely on candles, wood fires and kerosene lightings in their houses, which often offer poor light and produce highly polluting black carbons. The emissions of kerosene lights contribute to global warming and to severe indoor air pollution which are dangerous to health, causing respiratory infections. Besides that it is also expensive for the locals.

Streetlights,

Streetlights are more powerful than house lights. They provide light in a village, around schools and kraals to chase away predators. 

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The COVID-19 Coronavirus , what does it mean for tourism and conservation?

We are running the three-months mark since we all learned about a new virus leading to a serious respiratory issue in China. What may have been seen as a Chinese issue at that time is now very much a global problem. We are facing a major and largely unforeseen global challenge that affects people and economics in all corners of the world. The tourism industry and the conservation are no exceptions.

Tourism is facing a serious crisis due to the worldwide pandemic of the COVID-19 corona virus. The stock market has been crashing over the past weeks. Without any certainty about how long this crisis will last or what the final economic and structural impact on tourism will be, potential tourists are more likely to adopt a “wait and see” approach as the crisis unfolds. A less direct, but serious impact is on conservation, especially when its strongly linked to tourism, which is the reality in Namibia. 

The impact on global and local the tourism industry 

International tourism has been growing non-stop since the 1950s. By 2018, the number of arrivals increased to 1.4 billion and is estimated by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to account for $1.4 trillion and 7% of the value of the world’s goods and services. This means that the virus does not only affect tourism itself but also the global economy.

Since late January the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism has been undisputable. Hotels, airlines, cruise lines and tour operators are among the hardest hit in the industry, suffering from immediate consequences. 

Tourism is one of the main contributors to the Namibian economy, together with mining  and fishing.  According to the report released by the Namibia Tourism Board in 2015 the contribution of tourism to the economy, both directly and indirectly, was estimated at N$ 15.1 billion, (representing 10.2% of overall GDP) and more than 100,700 jobs. (14.5% of total employment)”.

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Storytelling with Watercolor

Alice Colson grew up in the western part of France, the Loire Valley. As a child growing up in an art-loving family, she always enjoyed drawing and painting. She tried different styles of arts, like animation, ceramics and music, to discover which one of them will be better for her.  As a teenager she also took cello lessons and prepare all the big “exams” to get admitted in the Beaux-Arts (arts school). Even though she got selected to study arts, she leaned towards a public administration and political science school in Bordeaux. 

Alice Colson – TOSCO Team member

In 2019 destiny brought her to Namibia and she felt reconnected with nature and wildlife. She really enjoys the country and all the beautiful landscapes that the country has to offer.

“There are some many different landscapes, from the north to the south it varies at lot” . 

Alice

Nowadays she is developing an activity as an illustrator in parallel of her main job which is related to water resources protection and management, climate change and conservation. All this experience gives her extra motivation at the moment to work on her illustrations. 

Why using watercolors?

I like it because it very nomad. It’s very light and it fits anywhere, which allows you to take it with you wherever you go. You just need paper, water and the watercolors. I also like the contact between the water and the colors. I love finding the balance between both of them. Too much water is not good for the drawing but too little is not good either.

I’m a fast painter; I don’t see myself doing oils paintings for example… It takes several weeks to finish one piece. You have to paint, and then wait for it to dry to continue. I’m a bit impatience myself, I think.  

I also wish to tell some stories or sending messages with my paintings. So, I believe it’s easier to transmit strong messages about sensitive topics with watercolors. 

What styles are reflected in your art?

One of my styles is a quite naïve way of drawing. Clear lines, very simple faces with very clear faces expressions. I have 3 identities: the first one more classic comic stretch, the second one is more children oriented, a naïve one, and the third one is landscapes and nature, (that are in my surroundings). I feed my art with these 3 identities. 

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Plant trees, teach kids, light up, share skills

TOSCO (Tourism Supporting Conservation) is an initiative started by Felix Vállat in 2012.

We have a responsibility to ensure that Namibia’s wilderness areas remain pristine and the people who look after it and live with wildlife are able to maintain a respectable lifestyle. Tourism can support or destroy. TOSCO believes that its impact can be signif icant when it is used as a tool for sustainable development. 

Having his own ecotourism company, he realised that the tourism sector has a responsibility to safeguard the natural resources it depends on and thereby ensure that Namibia’s wilderness remains as enjoyable in the future as it is now. Tourism is amongst the fastest growing industries worldwide and travelling to natural areas can be harmful. TOSCO has now become an established organisation that offers a platform for tour operators who want to commit to responsible tourism. With funds from their memberships, a team of dedicated volunteers and interns runs a variety of programs which focus on sponsoring research, supporting people living with wildlife, raising public awareness and travelling cleaner. To ensure programs run successfully, TOSCO works with a variety of partners in the field, including Desert Elephant Conservation, Save the Rhino Trust and Desert Lion Conservation, as well as strategic partners including NACSO, WWF and IRDNC. Vice versa, partners increasingly approach TOSCO when they need tourism expertise.

2020 has exciting developments in store for TOSCO. Here is a sneak peek of what we will be working on.

LIVING WITH WILDLIFE PROGRAM

Forced by drought, elephants and lions are attracted to settlements in search of water and livestock respectively, causing human-wildlife conflicts in areas where humans and animals co-exist. The Living with Wildlife program’s main focus is on preserving wildlife by supporting rural people that bear the cost of living with wildlife. Support is given in the form of incentives to look after the wildlife.

TOSCO will be leading the Lightforce project in partnership with IRDNC and a French NGO, equipping 20 kraals and 100 houses in north-western Namibia with solar lights. The lights will help farmers keep their livestock secure and deter predators, whilst also keeping elephants away from villages and their crops. Local people will be trained so that in future they are able to maintain the lights themselves.

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Mount View school goes on a city tour

Mountain View Secondary School recently won the 3rd prize in a national before/after clean up challenge aimed at involving and encouraging schools to partake in the national clean up challenge.   Part of the winning package included a city tour to celebrate cultural heritage. 

Namibia is a land with a lot of cultural heritage and its center is Windhoek which holds the heart to most of the historic events information and monuments. The tour gave learners a chance to witness the culture heritage and understand the city’s historical background was great idea, this gives them pride in their country and an understanding on the role they can play to keep the the city clean as this will help to preserve the historic heritage.

City Tour Points

Heroes’ Acre  

The trip started off at the Heroes Acre which is an official war memorial of the Republic of Namibia. The tour guide gave the learners a brief history about how it came to be and why it is important.  Shared a brief knowledge on where the departed Namibian heroes and heroines are honored and remembered.  The learners of Mount View high showed high interest and engaged a lot with the tour guides.  The guides that facilitated this tour on this juncture were Timoteus Nuugulu and Sakeus Kadhikwa

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The game guards

Someone needs to take care of the wildlife on communal land; this includes the monitoring, patrolling of wildlife and other resources and making sure the anti- poaching rule is being obeyed. The people who do this are normally referred as the community game guards or the shepherds of the community.

They also take on other duties like joint ventures with environment and tourist officials. Game guards should also have knowledge on how to maintain the event book; the event book is a field based monitoring system used in all communal conservancies of Namibia 

Game guards should have good knowledge on the conservancy they are in and know the animals in that are in the area. They have extensive knowledge on the laws on rules in their conservancy and make sure that people abide by them.   

Game guards have good relationships with the people with and outside the community because the serve as middle man as they can help advice farmers on how to reduce human- wildlife conflict. 

The work game guards do is important, for children to have knowledge on what the work game guards do is vital this way they will be able to see wildlife in the future on communal land and know how to live with wildlife.

Communicate like a ranger

On patrol you might encounter dangerous animals and it is important to know what to do.

When on patrol it’s good for rangers to know all safety and communication methods when coming across another dangerous wild animals the first thing you have to do is make the sign of silence. Everybody must keep quiet this is done not to distress the animal. After that indicate/show that a dangerous animal have been spotted so others are notified to be careful. Finally try to gather everyone at one place. 

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Successful Clean up Challenge

Equipped with bags, gloves, mask and a strong sense of purpose, around 4,000 kids from 42 different schools across Namibia, helped clean up their surroundings, streets, bush and beaches as part of the 2019 National Clean up Campaign between 16 to the 21 of September. 

The volunteers included kids, adolescents, teachers and parents – all of them gave their time to clear rubbish and raise awareness as part of the National Clean up and Anti-Littering Campaign that Honorable Pohamba Shifeta officially announced and declared last year to be held on the 21st of September 2019.

Successful 2019 Before / After Clean up Challenge for schools in Namibia

The Clean Up Campaign was aimed at changing the mindsets regarding pollution and littering of  all Namibian citizens. The Before and After clean up challenge was aimed to involve and encourange schools across the country to take part of this extraordinary campaign. Taking the kids outside to clean up their surroundings. Promoted a powerful message, namely; “Our trash, our responsability” and that “Namibia is not a trash can” at the same time.

The kids are the future of this Nation, therefore they play a key role to improve and adopt the best waste management practices through reducing, re-using and recycling. Kids need to be sensitized to this problem.

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