BANKIE pupils are wild about finding out how to protect endangered species.

The “Wild about Scotland” bus has visited about 900 children across West Dunbartonshire out of 30,000 across Scotland to find out how to protect at risk plants and animals.

Our Lady of Loretto Primary and Gavinburn Primary were amongst the latest to explore the specially designed double-decker bus – a mobile classroom created by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Clydesdale Bank.

Teaching up to 26 children at a time, the on-board specialist education team give interactive lessons inside the bus on native Scottish species, their habitats and environments. Children also took part in a fun assembly “The Bonnie Beasts of Scotland” inside school halls to learn about the country’s amazing biodiversity.

Including drop-in sessions, more than 55,000 have taken part in the Wild about Scotland programme.

Typical lessons include searching for wildlife species, mini-beast hunts and building beaver dams, in addition to learning about endangered Scottish species such as the Scottish wildcat. As part of the legacy of the campaign, almost 1,000 tree saplings have been planted in school grounds across Scotland to help offset carbon emissions from the Wild about Scotland bus.

Additionally, the programme involves online Wild about Scotland resources. These can be accessed by any school for use in classrooms or school grounds. It also provides resources for before and after the bus visit to extend the children’s learning, allowing teachers and pupils to continue teaching and learning about Scottish conservation, even after the bus has left the school.

Barbara Smith, chief executive of the RZSS, said: “We are very excited that the Wild about Scotland project has achieved the great milestone of reaching 450 schools.

“The project has helped engage children in every corner of Scotland, bringing them closer to nature and teaching them about the incredible local biodiversity that’s available on their door steps.”

“We hope the project continues to create a lifelong appreciation of wildlife within all the schools we visited.”