On May 24th, the Kouprey Express (KE) and Community-Based Ecotourism (CBET) teams participated in a bi-monthly Green Night at Metahouse, the German cultural center, in Phnom Penh. Participation in this event came about after the staff of local NGO, Save Cambodia’s Wildlife (SCW), expressed interest in conducting a Green Night on Climate Change jointly with Wildlife Alliance.
While Mr. Prom Hoeng, the chief of Chi Phat’s CBET Committee, presented on the impacts of climate change upstairs, KE set up shop downstairs and gave out more than 50 posters and hotline stickers, while providing information to visitors about KE’s education efforts, forest protection, and wildlife trafficking. All of the visitors expressed interest in not only wildlife and forest protection but also in KE’s posters and stickers. Having fun giveaways provides the team with the opportunity to spread the word about the hotline and environmental protection beyond just the event attendees.
Kouprey Express is looking forward to further participation in Green Nights and collaboration with SCW. It is important for to the KE team – as well as to the CBET team – to bring the message of environmental education and forest and wildlife protection to new venues and new audiences. The KE team can only visit so many classrooms in a year, but events like this help to ensure the messages stay out there even when the team is not giving classroom lessons.
In April, the Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Project was invited to join a fundraising event at French NGO, Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE). PSE works with 6,500 young adults and children who were previously trash pickers at the notorious trash dump in Steung Meanchey, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. PSE holds an annual charity event to raise awareness for issues affecting young people in Cambodia and invites variousorganizations and companies to participate.
Wildlife Alliance’s KE team had a small booth where we were able to promote forest and wildlife conservation issues. They also set up an area for children to make wildlife art which instantly attracted a huge crowd of young participants! The team gave away t-shirts, wildlife posters, and wildlife hotline stickers to raise awareness of the hotline number and encourage people to call if they see illegal wildlife activity. When asked, some of the children acknowledge knowing people and places that hunt or sell wildlife, so this served as an excellent opportunity to reach a large audience who previously had no knowledge of the wildlife trade, wildlife laws, or the rescue hotline. The first night of the event got short by a surprise downpour, but the second day was beautiful and busy with over 3,500 attendees.
Events like this are an important way for the Kouprey Express team to increase outreach. They usually work in schools just in Koh Kong Province, where most of Wildlife Alliance’s field projects are located. The ability to reach other areas and audiences increases Wildlife Alliance’s ability to diminish and eventually put an end to wildlife trafficking in Cambodia.
After a recent trip to the Chi Phat Primary School by the Kouprey Express, the team received 13 ‘love’ letters from students. So enthralled by their experience, the kids felt compelled to express their gratitude to the team for helping them learn about animal welfare and the environment. As the bus drove out of town, several of the kids ran behind the bus waving and cheering. It is immensely gratifying to the team in specific and the whole of Wildlife Alliance to know that we are making a positive impact in the lives of these children while teaching them to preserve Cambodia’s natural heritage. The Kouprey Express team visits approximately 2 schools each month, up to 20 per year delivering lessons to students and teachers in conservation education. Increased understanding through interactive education and hands-on activities is the critical building block through which Wildlife Alliance hopes to sustain Cambodia’s proactive conservation of its threatened wildlife and by which we are influencing positive behaviors, attitudes, and actions toward wildlife and their habitat. Translations of the Letters: Letter1 - Teacher I really don’t want you to leave because I love and miss you very much when i learned with you it made me very happy and feel very comfortable. From me, the person who love and miss you very much. Han Thorn, Grade 4; Letter 2 - Teacher I really don’t want to get away from you because and love and miss you very much, we want you to teach us again. From me, Tong Yi, Grade 4
On September 16, 2011 the Kouprey Express took a group of 96 people from the National Borey for Infants and Children (NBIC), including orphaned and disabled children, staff, and international volunteers, on a field trip Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. For many of these children, it was their first visit to PTWRC and their excitement was palpable. The visit included a tour of the whole facility and environmental games and art projects to facilitate learning about wildlife. The day was hot and airless, and even though many of the children were physically handicapped and confined to wheelchairs, their fascination kept them moving. They were eager to see all the animals and fearless when meeting Lucky, one of PTWRC’s resident elephants. They got up close with her, petting her hide and hugging her trunk when she touched them “Hello.” After a delicious lunch at the center, the kids participated in art activities and games. The KE staff has never seen as many smiling faces as they saw in the NBIC group and a great time was had by all. We look forward to hosting another group from NBIC soon!
The Kouprey Express Environmental Education Project provides environmental educational outreach and extension activities to teachers, schoolchildren, and communities living around protected areas. Activities are based on teacher workshop, teaching directly by Kouprey Express staff to students, conducting community night show, and organizing Phnom Tamao visits. These are all aimed to increase environmental awareness and promote conservation of Cambodian wildlife. To reach this aim, the KE staff provides training to teachers on Environmental Education Materials based on six modules such as weather, water & sanitation, waste & sanitation, energy, conservation & biodiversity, and livelihood to the target schools in Koh Kong province.
Teacher Capacity Building
During the summer holidays when schools are not in session – a 3-month period from July to October – the KE staff focused on capacity building and training. This includes English lessons to increase their English skills at the Australian Centre for Education (ACE), the top English school in Cambodia, as well as computer lessons on Access, Photoshop, and Excel at Asia Euro University. These classes will finish at the end of September, just in time for the new school year to begin in Koh Kong.
Developing New Lessons
Historically, the KE staff use environment flip charts to teach teachers and students. To expand the project, and add more concepts about Cambodia’s endangered species to increase awareness of those species, the threats facing them, and promote the wildlife rescue hotline number through species-speicifc lesson plans.
The species-specific lessons focus on Asian Elephants, apes, pangolins, tigers, bears, and reptiles. The team will provide lessons that include information on the species’ physical characteristics, habitats, threats, how to conserve them, and have a Question & Answer element as well. Two games are also created which accompany each lesson: My Home and Biodiversity games.
New Learning Games for Students
Students are divided into groups and share pieces of paper with an animal’s name written on it. We then hide the animal’s picture somewhere in the room/location and students are given 5 minutes to search for the animal’s picture which matches the sheet of paper. Who matches it fastest is the winner.
My Home Game (similar to dodge ball)
Students are divided into three groups: group one are trees, group two are animals, and two individuals are hunters. The tree group stands around the animal group, which is standing in the circle while the hunters try to hunt animals by throwing the ball from outside the circle line. The job of the trees is to help protect the animals from the hunters. If the animals can dodge the ball and avoid being hit, the animals are the winner, but if they get hit, the hunters are the winner. Play is 5 minutes.
Planning Phnom Tamao Visit
The new schools in the first half of 2011 proved to be difficult to reach for large buses so PTWRC field trips have not been as many as we hoped. Instead, the team is interested in coordinating with local orphanages and schools in Phnom Penh. The trip(s) will hopefully happen in early September.
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Communications and Finance Field Liaison