Kids have a wild time in the city


The wildlife may have been slow and retiring in Sunday’s cold and damp, but the Grahamstown (Makhanda) school children who braved intermittent rain and a 7C early morning on Sunday 9 September made the Makana Botanical Gardens come alive at the WESSA/Grocott’s Mail Bio-Bash and Photo Walk.

The event was to encourage school children to look closely at their natural environment, get to know it better, and have a shot at entering the WESSA #CelebrateNaturalHeritage photographic competition. Despite the cold and intermittent rain, 35 children from six Grahamstown schools – most of them in grades 6, 7 and 8 – spent the morning enthusiastically looking for plants and small animals under the expert guidance of a team of Zoologists, Botanists and Entomologists, alongside experienced photographers.

Snake-guy Chad Keates was joined by a group of volunteers from Rhodes University’s Zoology and Entomology departments, Cara Trivella, Anthony Evlambiou and Brice Roestof. The SA National Biodiversity Institute’s (SANBI’s) plant custodian Vathiswa Vikishe, Grocott’s Mail’s Kathryn Cleary and Megan Kelly, Rhodes Journalism School photography lecturer Harold Gess and WESSA’s Sarah Hanton, took groups around the gardens, helping spot and snap flora and fauna.

A like and learn session followed in Ornee Cottage. Grocott’s Mail’s Online Producer aka Multimedia Makenik Azlan Makalima downloaded photos and displayed them on a screen for everyone to see and “crit”. Grocott’s laid on tea, coffee and biscuits for the adults, while the children enjoyed the cupcakes and juice generously provided by Pick n Pay Grahamstown.

Despite the weather, the children, teachers and facilitators were committed and enthusiastic, with some great photos coming out of the morning of work and fun. Some of these will be entered into the WESSA #CelebrateNaturalHeritage photographic competition, which closes this Friday.

The morning ended with a live demonstration of venomous snakes by ‘NextGen Herpetologist’ Chad Keates and his team, in the amphitheatre behind Ornee Cottage. The kids (and adults!) were thrilled and amazed to see Keates handle South Africa’s most dangerous snake – the boomslang – and one of the most common venomous snakes in the Eastern Cape, the puff adder. Many were brave enough to touch them.

Grocott’s Mail thanks the children and their schools and teachers (Amasango, Archie Mbolekwa, Seventh Day Adventist Primary and Ntaba Maria), the volunteers and staff, and Pick n Pay,  for supporting a worthwhile Heritage Month educational project that left participants and facilitators inspired.

Photos here by Steven Lang, Sarah Hanton and Kathryn Cleary.

The #CelebrateNaturalHeritage photo competition closes Friday 14 September). For competition details and entry forms in three categories (School, Amateur, Professional), click below the slideshow:


Amateur Form:
Professional Adult Form:
Scholar Form:


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