Any conservation strategy, regardless of whether the focus is a particular species, ecosystem or habitat type, should always be partnered with an awareness campaign and education program. Today it was a pleasure to be invited to Jerudong International School to conduct a workshop with students of a variety of ages. The morning started with a session of activities learning about the unique characteristics of the pangolin (did you know that, despite appearance, it is a mammal?). All students were left with tasks to become “Pangolin Protectors” spreading the word about this animal and the threats that it faces. It has been fantastic to hear feedback from both parents and teachers that children have been talking about the workshop and teachers have been initiating extra ideas.
A few afternoon sessions were conducted with some year 9 students. To really help them understand and appreciate the role these animals play in the ecosystem group work began with them thinking about what is known about the pangolin’s ecology and making predictions about what might happen if they are removed from the forest. I was impressed with the ideas they came up with, thinking about predator prey relationships and cascading effects.
Furthermore, they brainstormed suggestions and ideas for alternatives that could be used instead of poaching pangolin – why would it be better to use an inhaler rather than pangolin scales to help with your asthma?