The Chacma Champions Innovation Term is a 10-day programme, piloted by the second graders at the American International School of Cape Town. The students are given the opportunity to delve deeper into their course work and gain some practical experience of various habitats and the myriad of threats they are currently facing. The chacma baboon is the species used to illustrate how nature is connected through a complex web of life, that no habitat occurs in isolation. The students also learn that our choices have consequences and that these choices give us the power to help the environment.

I’m a baboon, I may be cheeky; I’m a baboon, I am important; I’m a baboon, please let me live
– Grant Young (Grade 2 – Submission to Poetry Competition)

The Chacma Champions ethos is to show the importance of the chacma baboon by highlighting their vital roles within the different habitats visited during the programme. Due to the fact that habitats are intricately connected, the removal of a species or the destruction of a habitat will have harmful direct impacts as well as untold and long-lasting ripple effects throughout the environment. Chacma baboons have been a part of the natural heritage on the Cape Peninsula for at least a million years and contribute to its astounding biodiversity. We should be doing everything in our power to ensure the flourishing survival of this region by preserving the integrity of the ecosystems and learning to peacefully coexist with our wild neighbours.

For every day in the field exploring new habitats, we spend a day on campus learning more about the intricacies and interconnectedness of these environments and coming up with solutions to reduce current pressures and prevent future negative impacts. Because of the important roles that chacma baboons play in the successful functioning of the environment, it is essential that we remove the sources attracting them to urban areas and away from the natural environments dependent on their presence.

Students are introduced to examples of habitats frequented by chacma baboons on the Cape Peninsula of South Africa. We explore the rocky shores of a Marine Protected Area at Dalebrook, the beautifully rehabilitated wetland of the near pristine Silvermine River at Clovelly, the degraded habitat of the Tokai Plantation, the fynbos biome of the famed Cape Floristic Region in the mountainous Silvermine Nature Reserve and the many protected streams running through the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.

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