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Wildlife of South Georgia shared with thousands of schools

The South Georgia Activity Pack that is included in the 2022 Hanson Box

The wildlife of South Georgia is set to become better known as the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) has developed a range of new and exciting educational materials about the British Overseas Territory of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands.

The materials will be included in this year’s Hanson Box – an initiative by the Don Hanson Charitable Foundation, which donates a box full of fun learning material, activities and lesson plans completely free of charge to 8,000 schools in the UK and UK Overseas Territories.

A petrel flies over South Georgia in an image by Tony Martin

A petrel flying over South Georgia. Image credit: Tony Martin

Each year’s box contains a different set of specially crafted resources designed to help teachers inspire their students. For the first time, materials about South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands will be included, thanks to SGHT and the Friends of the British Overseas Territories (FOTBOT). SGHT paid for the South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands contents of 5,000 of the 8,000 boxes, with FOTBOT contributing the remaining 3,000.

Six beautifully shot and incredibly engaging short films have been created by writer and film maker Stewart McPherson to sit alongside a booklet and a map of the island as well as two competitions whose winning entries will be displayed on South Georgia. There are also links to download lessons about the island for primary school students developed by teacher Dawn Clements, one of which features the journey of a character called Winona the Whale, to help young children understand the challenges of our marine mammals.

Two Southern Elephant Seals calling out in front of a gathering of penguins at Gold Harbour, South Georgia in an image by Stephen Bolcso

Southern Elephant Seals at Gold Harbour, South Georgia. Image credit: Stephen Bolcso

The tiny island of South Georgia is an inspirational place hailed as a beacon of hope in international conservation terms, due to the recovery of its ecosystem. Through the Hanson Box initiative, SGHT can tell the island’s remarkable story to engage young people in the wonderful wildlife and conservation work that is taking place there and to encourage them to make a difference to environmental outcomes.

The films really bring to life this amazing story and include an overview of these sub-Antarctic islands, their bird life, marine mammals and marine life, their history and heritage, and the conservation of wildlife that is turning back the clock on two centuries of human impact. Working with the Hanson Box initiative, SGHT hopes to inspire a new generation of environmental custodians.

A South Georgia pipit on rocks on the island in an image by Oli Prince

A South Georgia pipit, photographed whilst working on the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s Rat Eradication Project in South Gerogia, Antarctica on 6th February 2018. Image credit: Oliver Prince

SGHT, the Scottish-based charity that has developed the educational materials for the Hanson Boxes, has been working on the island since 2005, in close partnership with the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands. Its hugely successful Habitat Restoration Project has reversed two centuries of human-induced damage to the island’s wildlife, eradicating the mice and rats that arrived as stowaways on sealing and whaling vessels from the late 18th century onwards that preyed on ground-nesting and burrowing birds. As a result, millions of birds reclaimed their ancestral home when South Georgia was declared rodent-free in May 2018 – the largest invasive species eradication in the world.

Stewart McPherson, whose generosity and talent created the wonderful booklet, films, printed lesson plans and competitions for the box said: ‘South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are as captivating as they are important in terms of international conservation. That is why it has been a pleasure to work on such an exciting project, which brings together such a wealth of information, which I hope will inspire young people to a greater understanding and wonder of our natural world and in particular the importance of these tiny islands.’

A humpback whale lunge feeds off the coast of South Georgia in an image by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

A humpback whale lunge feeding, captured by the South Georgia Whale Team in 2019. Image credit: British Antarctic Survey (BAS)

Alison Neil, Chief Executive of SGHT, said: ‘The work of SGHT focuses on the conservation of South Georgia’s heritage and helping to change the habitat there for the better. The opportunity to have materials included in the Hanson Box is incredible as we are delighted to share the wonder of this special place and hopefully encourage young people to get inspired about our natural world using the fantastic turnaround in the island’s fortunes in recent years.’

Andrew Fox and Simon Leary, Trustees of the Don Hanson Charitable Foundation, said: ‘We are delighted to work together with SGHT to donate high quality, educational resources to 8,000 schools across the UK. As hyper-concentrated breeding sites for tens of millions of seabirds and marine mammals that migrate across the Southern Ocean, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands are of global importance. The South Georgia resource pack included in the latest Hanson Box is intended to inspire the interests of British students in the history, wildlife and landscapes of this fascinating UK Overseas Territory, as well as showcasing the inspiring work undertaken by the SGHT and the GSGSSI to safeguard these islands for the future.’




The specially created films can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8URLzDWi0M&list=PLQ_Dgt2f4Ly-MQ_pnkcxu8qzIPn1LAZ_P

Two fur seals cuddle together on the island of South Georgia in an image by Jerome Viard

Fur Seals on South Georgia. Image credit: Jerome Viard

To find out more about the work of SGHT, visit www.sght.org and to find out more about Hanson Boxes visit www.hansonbox.org

Main image credit: South Georgia Heritage Trust

A Field Guide to the Wildlife of South Georgia

South Georgia is rich in wildlife and spectacular scenery, and it is a prime destination spot on most Antarctic tours. This beautifully illustrated field guide depicts the birds, mammals, insects, flowering plants and other vegetation found in this unique part of the world. It features 368 full-color photographs of more than 180 species.

£17.09

Shop now

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