March 3rd was deemed World Wildlife Day by the United Nations to "celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants." The day serves as an important reminder that our earth is home to more than just human life—we need to take care of our planet because it is also home to countless other species of animals and plants. And on top of that, many forms of life on earth are in danger of becoming extinct! How can we teach our students to preserve the natural world?
One entry-point to discussing wildlife around the world is by focusing on the "Big Five" animals in Africa. The "Big Five" refers to the five animals one can hope to spot while out on a safari: the lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and African buffalo [illustrated above from left to right]. You can learn more about each of these animals on the World Wildlife Fund blog.
People often assume that the hippo or the giraffe would be included in the five instead of the lesser-known buffalo. But the term was first used when these five animals were considered to be the most dangerous, so hunters would target them because it was a feat to show off that they had successfully killed a supposed predator. These days, luckily the term "Big Five" has since lost this association as people learn to protect animals and respect their habitats, instead of hunting them for sport or trophies.
But hunting does still occur in Africa, although for much more survival-based reasons than sport. Kenyan teenager Richard Turere lives in a part of the continent where his community's livelihood is dependent on their livestock. At age 12, Richard realized that their cows, sheep, and other animals were being preyed on by lions—and the majority of adults in the community understandably reacted to this threat by wanting to hunt the lions. Instead of reacting by hunting the hunters, Richard decided to come up with another solution that would protect his community's farm animals without needing to hunt the lions.
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