“In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the Earth.” – David Attenborough, English broadcaster and biologist

As the 3rd of March is World Wildlife Day, we thought we would use this newsletter to explore ways of engaging with the topic of conservation in your English lessons. It seems that a new generation of wildlife warriors is on the rise and tapping into this interest amongst teenagers may result in some relevant and thought-provoking lessons.

Nadav Ossendryver, the founder-CEO of the wildlife tracking app Latest_Sightings.com., was just 15 years old when he developed this app. He says youngsters’ technical abilities and “forward-thinking can really change the world of anti-poaching and conservation”.

Aardvark found on a Cape Town beach
In mid-January, Alex and Juanita Aitkenhead were walking their dogs on a beach in Cape Town when they discovered an aardvark, also known as an African antbear, washed up on the shore. The following investigations found that rather than drowning, the aardvark appeared to have suffered a heart attack or was suffocated and was probably a victim of illegal trade.

Indigenous plants are also being poached
Less well known is the fact that there is a growing demand for South African plants. The number of succulent poachers is increasing and the poaching of our indigenous plants is regarded as being as serious as the poaching of rhinos and other endangered animals.
“The demand for rare, wild harvested plants is skyrocketing, and many of these species, especially Conophytums, only occur in very small, localized populations, so they could be collected to extinction in a couple of visits by poachers,” said Ismail Ebrahim, project manager at the South African National Biodiversity Institute.2

To explore some of these issues further, please consider the ideas below:


Scholars read articles that discuss animal poaching and the poaching of indigenous plants for homework, and then discuss their findings in a class discussion.

In groups, scholars discuss creative and workable solutions to the problems that they identified in their class discussion. These ideas can be shared with the class. Scholars then use the information that they have gleaned to write a blog, an editorial or a letter to the editor in which they express a clear opinion on the subject.

Below is an ode that South African journalist and columnist Clarissa McFairy was asked to write to the aardvark.

Clarissa McFairy’s Ode to the Aardvark

Your long dear nose
has me in tears
A jetty to my heart

sweet One
washed up like a wave

You were once a wave
of eager beaver bliss
Sniffing for a whiff

A morsel of kindness
Any sorrows
drowned with you

Dear Aardvark
Bless your burrowing toes
May the soft sands

of Sunset Beach
be a resting place
from the wild seas

May kind people
salute your soul
and cover your dear nose

All I can do
is cover my face
in tears3

After reading this poem with your class, encourage them to write their own odes to an animal of their choice.

If you are using the Achieve Careers English HL Programme, the following information and activities are recommended:

  • Grade 8 ENG HL: Section 1 (pp. 20–21) and Section 5 (p. 112)
  • Grade 9 ENG HL: Section 3 (p. 51) and Section 5 (pp. 114–115)
  • Grade 10 ENG HL: Section 1 (pp. 16–17) and Section 5 (pp. 120–121)
  • Grade 11 ENG HL: Section 5 (pp. 110–111)
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