The Ndumo Community Project was started in 1998 by, Prof Ansie Greeff from
Ndumo Game Reserve (Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reserve) and Tshwane University of Technology created a stronger bond which involved a mutualistic relationship benefiting both organizations. Through the implementation of the Ndumo Community Project, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife would build better relationships with their surrounding community, which in the long run would assist them in their management strategy. Part of this strategy, is to educate local communities surrounding their reserve, about the importance of conservation and how to co-exist with nature and become self-sustainable. The project also needed to encourage the integration of local communities into the development of activities on the reserve. Tshwane University of Technology is also benefiting from this relationship, as students are been trained in conservation, students are also allowed to do conservation related research, and students are getting trained in environmental education and community development from "hands-on" experience. The students are trained how to implement an environmental educational awareness programme, to evaluate programmes and to encourage environmental behavioral change in the community.
The projects main focus, is environmental education “EE”, which involves teaching school learners about the fundamentals of the environment and the relationship between man and its surroundings. The project needed to show the community, how to clean up the environment and to take care of their environment.
Through the years, working "hands-on" with the community, it came to our notice that, the project had to re-focus their objectives to include vegetable gardening and a proper nutritional feeding scheme, due to the high poverty rate in the area. Cheryl Ogilvie and her students stationed at Ndumo Game Reserve could not educate a starving child. So it became crucial that the project incorporates the social-, economic- and bio-physical aspects of the community.
Research was done in the community which quantified the needs of the community . This culminated into specific programmes such as vegetable gardening and feeding schemes for orphans at the relevant schools. These programmes included projects which incorporates environmental education into the existing syllabus, and empowering teacher's with knowledge pertaining to their subjects.
The project, however has grown over the years, to be more than about conservation, and has developed into a way of life and a way of sustaining life in the “Forgotten Community”. From this perspective, we will have a future generation that will able to develop skills and attitudes necessary to understand and appreciate the inter-relatedness amongst man, his culture and his bio-physical surroundings. Our learner's are now "ECOKIDS" and our teachers are now "ECO-TEACHERS". Change is happening!