Volunteering for Conservation Education

So often, when looking for volunteering opportunities in wildlife conservation or research, you’ll see images of deep dark forests, scientific observations, rescued animals being fed or sometimes even played with, etc. However, something that isn’t always pushed forward into the public eye is the massive amount of outreach and education work that is done at these centres.

It is well known how important of a role conservation education plays in shaping human actions, and more and more conservation organizations are working this into their daily programmes. Thanks to today’s technologies, schools in Europe and North America are able to be linked to schools across south-east Asia and Africa, bringing children closer than ever to the forefront of conservation.

We here at the Little Fireface Project recognise this importance and have launched several education programmes because of it. We believe that one of the best ways to protect future generations of wildlife, is to education future generations of humans! By teaching local children slow loris ecology in a fun, positive atmosphere, we are helping them to love wildlife as much as we do. In this way, a new generation of slow loris – loving locals might one day choose more wildlife-friendly farming practices, or perhaps speak out against illegal pet trade when they see it, or even go on to run their own conservation organisations! The possibilities are endless when you stand on a solid education.

Here’s a closer look at some of the programmes that we’re running now at our main field site in West Java.

Nature Club

We hold two weekly classes at the local primary school in the village of Cipaganti. Here we run 3-month long curriculums each with a new theme, all aiming to create a curiosity and love of the natural world that our students live in.

This year we have 60 students aged 5 to 12! They’re split into three classes each going through our curriculum at their own pace. They’re currently finishing up “A Healthy Forest”, where children worked on projects related to forest ecosystems, ecology, and food chains, and will soon begin our next exciting curriculum: “Building Bridges for Slow Lorises” which will incorporate characterisation and interactive lessons on forest connectivity and slow loris social structure.

Slow Loris Forest Protector

For the last 3 years, LFP team members have visited schools throughout West Java to deliver our fantastic conservation education programme: Slow Loris Forest Protector. Using an original story book, children are taught about slow loris ecology and the special relationships that they have to the forest as well as to farmers.

Children learn through story-telling, drawing, craft-making and play! Results of this programme have been fantastic and even published in international journals!

  • Sharon McCabe
  • Field Station Coordinator

Terima kasih!

Someone pointed out to me recently that, based on my blog posts, it seems I have an altogether negative view of the things I’ve experienced while in Indonesia. It is true that I have focused mainly on the travesties of public transport, corruption, and environmental destruction in my blogs. I blame this on my Seinfeld sense of humor, in which one uses comedy as a way of understanding the parts of life equivalent to bags of dog shit left in your bicycle basket. (This is not a canonized metaphor or anything, just an experience I can relate to.) And unfortunately, I sometimes find it hard to talk about the wonderful things I’ve seen without sounding cliché. Often I couldn’t even find the words to describe the feeling of delirious, stupid-grin joy that came along with them. So as I sit here thousands of miles from Java, doing Western things like exposing my knees and flushing toilet paper, I will try to create a list of the best things I can recall from my two months in Indonesia:

  • Sitting cross-legged on front porches drinking local, shade-grown coffee as the firework crow of a Javan hawk-eagle splinters the air
  • Whipping around mountain roads on the back of an ojek, with a view of terraced rice paddies, organized like a batik pattern, and tail-flicking water buffalo
  • A man that created a Personal Hotspot for me when I needed Wi-fi, and then introduced me to his daughters over a slice of cheesy-bite pizza
  • The Chinese store owner from San Francisco that empathized with our stomach problems while we frantically picked out batik fabric
  • A baby gibbon with a rounded belly and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on an animal
  • A certain woven hammock at a rescue center that was perfectly distanced from the mosque, making the Call to Prayer float over the valleys like a hollow wind
  • Yogyakarta and pesto spaghetti and goat cheese crepes and red wine and ice cream espresso and vegan burritos
  • Two Indonesian sisters that finally understood our aversion to photographs with strangers, and helped us shout Tidak photo! as we wound our way, hands clasped, through a market
  • My disbelief at my first sighting of a slow loris, whose eyes I was convinced were kids with two burning flashlights up a tree
  • Long nights of Kabu and charades accompanied by a stream of French rap played over YouTube
  • Chopping buckets of fruits and vegetables for rescue animals while a Dutch psychotherapist and volunteer gently explained away all of life’s problems
  • The tree-sheltered streets of Bandung, decorated with colorful charms and windchimes
  • Chanting Just say yes! as a man who called himself Superman led us, sweaty and losing hope, to an unknown destination (which turned out to be a batik art studio where I spent a disastrous amount of money)
  • Laughing through the delirium that comes along with lack of sleep and having nothing sane left to talk about
  • The blissful calm that is an Indonesian man with a cigarette, casually and cross-legged observing his world
  • The satisfaction of hearing a langur alarm call, which means that you may only get a glimpse of their shaggy black tail but that they are still wholly wild

And finally:

  • Sadhbh Wouldyougoonouttaherewiththat! Quinn: for her fierce love of Irish culture and warrior princess headbands
  • Nam’s Naan Money: for her cooking abilities and affinity for some hostel in the woods in Georgia
  • Ibu Lina Fransson: for her much-needed hugs, encouragement in song form, and eloquent morning conversations
  • Mumu “Smart Cookie” Vergniol: for her heroic rescue of Aubergine the moth and the four months it took to choose a movie for Mopie Night
  • Joshua Steven Theopillus: for being my travel buddy and cat whisperer and because he likes using his full name
  • Sharon All I Do Is Win McCabe: for sticking with me through the “Americans write the number 6 differently” fiasco
  • Alex Shitty cat! Duverneuil: for teaching us French swear words and almost breaking the coffee table with his card-tapping abilities
  • Abdullah Langgeng, aka Oneng’s adopted father: for climbing 400 steps with me and driving through Garut in the pouring rain
  • Sarah, Josh, and Francesca: for almost choking to death on volcanic sulfur dioxide for my research and bringing Britain back into my life a few weeks early
  • Professor Tom Lloyd: for our academic conversations and his love of creative writing
  • Aconk Hey motherfucker Ahmad: for his candid photography sessions from across the street, his dog Nipples, and, of course, his hair
  • Pak Dendi Rustandi: for laughing at me as I slid down the muddy mountain on my butt for my first and only night observation
  • Yiyi, Rahmat, and Adin: for kicking all of our asses at Kabu and making sure our house continues to function
  • Wita Women strong! Astika: for long life talks on the motorbike and her ability to immediately make friends with strangers
  • Eka I touch dog for first time! Kartini: for talking me through my first night in Indonesia and generally doing things her own way

You guys rock.

Kelsey, Volunteer