I recently received a report from FREELAND Foundation about their community outreach work supported by the CLP and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. These carnivore-based awareness programs are presented in communities around the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai World Heritage Site in Northeastern Thailand. They have especially targeted areas bordering the parks known to be ‘poacher origin hotspots’ where high numbers of poachers are known to reside.
The objectives of the awareness activities are:
- To increase awareness and understanding of the importance of carnivore and nature conservation among communities living near carnivore habitat.
- To reduce poaching, forest encroachment, and human-wildlife conflict immediately and in the long term by reaching at risk families through child education.
- To inspire children to study science and ecology and become Thailand's future conservation leaders.
Outreach activities varied by grade level but consisted of multi-media presentations and lectures, game-based interactions, plays, and music. For secondary school students, a more complicated introduction to ecology was delivered, with drama-type activities organized to give students an independent creative role in communication of key conservation
themes, such as the impacts of poaching. The Clouded Leopard's Secret bilingual storybooks were distributed to all schools after the activities and presenters utilized clouded leopard and tiger teaching resources such as costumes and skull replicas provided by Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium to engage and teach the students. Evaluation of the educational effectiveness of the programs demonstrated an improvement in the students’ awareness and understanding of the conservation messages presented.
We're very pleased to support the great work of FREELAND in increasing awareness of carnivores where it matters most!