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Fears faced at Yebo Gogga

- By Kemantha Govender

Obakeng Lobakeng from Princess High School in Roodepoort decided to face one of his biggest fears on the opening day of the Yebo Gogga Yebo amaBlomo Exhibition at Wits today.

Fiercely afraid of snakes, he decided to touch two of them and also learn more about the reptiles, which he said scared him for a long time.

“This was my first time here and I am finding it quite interesting and educational. Today, I decided to face my fear of snakes and it was okay,” said Lobakeng.

It was also Safiyyah Loonat’s first time at the Yebo Gogga show which is held at the Oppenheimer Life Sciences Building on the Braamfontein Campus East.

The Grade 3 learner from Emmarentia Primary School in Johannesburg was happy to sample wild herb teas with her eager classmates. The learners tasted wild mint and fever tea, among others. Thus far the wild mint has been a hit with the learners.

“The tea was nice, but some were bitter-tasting,” said Loonat, who according to her teacher was reluctant to attend the exhibition because she was afraid of the insects.

But once Loonat arrived at Wits, her curiosity was quickly piqued when she saw the wide range of creatures and plants at the exhibition.

The exhibition, ending on 17 May 2015, has at least 30 exhibitions available for learners and other visitors to experience.

Nikita Muthoo, a Wits pharmacy student, decided to volunteer her time, introducing visitors to the tenrec, a small creature that resemble hedgehogs.

Muthoo said that the learners who visited her stand early on opening day asked several questions but were also keen to take pictures with the mammal.

Joy Jarvis from Rhino SA, a youth outreach organisation, was impressed with the interest from the young learners.

“We go around to schools educating them on the importance of the Big Five. Tourism is our second biggest income in South Africa. We are one of only three countries in the world that has the Big Five. If we do not get tourists here, we do not get pounds or euros. We also do not get jobs for the taxi drivers or the restaurants,” said Jarvis.

She said that it is vital that rhinos are protected because in five years’ time, South Africa could be down to being home to only four of the Big Five.

“If we lose the elephant we are down to three. No one is going to come to South Africa to see three animals because they can do that elsewhere.”

While the organisation does not raise funds to address poaching, it does go around to schools in the greater Johannesburg region to create awareness on how children can get their voices heard about this important issue in South Africa.

Jarvis said that the children love nature and that they are going back to it.

“Especially the smaller kids have plenty of questions. They want to know what happens to rhinos and why they do not live when they have a horn removed. They are also asking about why people are taking the horns from the animals,” she said.

Donald McCallum, the director of the exhibition, said that they are expecting about 1000 learners per day until it closes on Sunday.