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Aspects of Malawi 6: In the wild in Malawi

To stimulate discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of living alongside wild animals.

by Helen Redfern

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To stimulate discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of living alongside wild animals.

Preparation and materials

  • The leader plays the role of a TV presenter and four readers take on the other roles.
  • Photographs are available to download to accompany this assembly.

Assembly

  1. Leader:  Good afternoon, and welcome to this week’s episode of Difficult Dilemmas. Today, we visit Malawi and think about elephants, hippos and crocodiles.

    We ask the question: Dead or Alive? We meet four people with four very different opinions. Let’s welcome our first guest: a representative of the local people of Malawi.

    Reader 1:  The population of Malawi is growing all the time and we need to clear more land for building houses and growing our crops. But the elephants come back to the land and trample on our crops and damage our homes. We try to chase them away. One day, my neighbour threw stones at an elephant to frighten it away but it got mad and attacked him with its tusks, knocked him to the ground and trampled him to death. We hate the elephants for all that they do to us.
    At the market, we hear stories about how hippos and crocodiles are attacking the people that go to the river to wash their clothes and fetch water. The government want to protect these animals but we say – what about protecting the people of Malawi?
  2. Leader:  Thank you. Let’s now meet someone with a very different opinion: a representative of the tourist industry.

    Reader 2:  Tourism is an important way of bringing money into our country and what do the tourists come to see? The animals, of course – particularly the elephants, the hippos and the crocodiless. The Shire River has more hippos than anywhere else in the world. 
    There are many jobs created by the hippos: for the people who drive the boats and jeeps, the people who work in the hotels and camps, the people who look after the park and the animals in it. Malawi needs these animals to attract people to visit our beautiful country and spend their money here.
  3. Leader:  Thank you. This next individual not only thinks that these animals should be killed, it is his job to kill them. Let’s hear from a representative of the hunters and poachers.

    Reader 3:  This is our country, our land, and it is up to us what we do with the animals that live there. Some of us kill the animals for the government to keep the numbers down. Some of us kill the elephants illegally for their tusks, so that we can sell them and get enough money to feed our families. I run a crocodile farm and kill the crocs to make the handbags and shoes that the rich people from the West will pay lots of money for. This is our work; without it, our families would not survive.
  4. Leader:  Thank you. Finally we meet a wildlife protector and hear what he has to say.

    Reader 4:  One thing is for sure – if the illegal killing of these animals continues, there will no longer be any elephants, hippos and crocodiles in Malawi. Surely we cannot let this happen.

    My job is to find ways in which the people and the animals of Malawi can live side by side in harmony.

    One way to stop elephants eating crops is to plant rows of chilli plants in between the crops. The elephants will then stay well away and the growers can also sell the chillies at the market. Many villages have begun to do this with great success.

    We work closely with the game parks to provide secure fencing around the reserves to keep animals such as hippos in. We have to educate the local people not to make holes in the fences to get through to collect firewood. If they can get in, the hippos can get out.

    We also go round villages with a video to show the people how to approach the river safely to reduce the risk of crocodile attacks. Crocs only attack humans if there is not enough for them to eat in the river, so we have to teach the local people to fish responsibly.
  5. Leader:  Thank you. We have heard four very different points of view from four very different people.

    So what do you think? Who thinks the elephants, hippos and crocodiles should be killed? Who thinks the elephants, hippos and crocodiles should be protected?

    These are not easy questions to answer and we hope that the people of Malawi come up with a solution.

    Thank you for watching Difficult Dilemmas. Goodbye from all of us.

Time for reflection

This is the last assembly in our series on Malawi. We have learnt so much about life there.

Take time to imagine what it might be like to live alongside wild animals in Malawi. It must be quite scary at times!

As we consider the country of Malawi (for the last time), let us open our minds to learn from how the people live and work and play.
Let us open our hearts to appreciate all that we have.
Let us open our imaginations to help the hopes of the people of Malawi become realities.

Song/music

‘He’s got the whole world’ (Come and Praise, 19)

Publication date: February 2010   (Vol.12 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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