Normally, Club P.A.N. would start its 9th school year this October 2015. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure funding this year despite the amazing results we have achieved with the program and thousands of children we have reached so far. This means that 15 schools with more than 1000 children will not learn about environmental issues, endangered species and biodiversity this year and perhaps not ever again in the foreseeable future around the Tai National Park in Cote d'Ivoire.
Tropical forests were once widespread throughout West Africa but are continuing to decline, from more than 40 million ha to less than 8 million ha today. Consequently, the wildlife in the forests of these tropical countries is also declining at a tremendous rate due to various threats, but most notably due to bush-meat hunting, driven by an ever-increasing protein demand by some of the world's poorest people. Educating these people about our environment is a crucial part of nature conservation.
Club P.A.N. is a long-term conservation program to teach children knowledge on environmental issues in order to promote care and awareness towards nature conservation. Children will learn about the flora and fauna of the region's ecosystem, so that they appreciate and take pride in the biodiversity that exists. Club P.A.N. will discourage the trade in illegal bush-meat by reducing the likelihood that the current generation of children will consume or trade bush-meat in the future.
Environmental education is a priority action for wildlife conservation. Each school year we reach 1000 children plus their families and friends because they come to the parents day celebrations in the village, where the children present what they have learnt during 12 sessions. Club P.A.N. evaluation results from past years are published by Borchers et al. (2013) and found that participation significantly increased environmental knowledge and positively influenced attitudes towards nature.