There are many facets to ending the illegal ivory trade. Efforts to reduce supply by protecting elephants and prosecuting poachers are important, but it is also important to change the hearts and minds of people who may be involved in illegal wildlife trade. IEF supports both sides of this equation because we know a comprehensive approach is how we can make lasting change. Recently with partners Wildlife Alliance, we supported the “Elephant Protection through Strengthened Capacity and Community Engagement in Cambodia” project that worked with teachers, schools and students to change community attitudes towards wildlife and elephants.
Since China’s 2017 ivory ban, Cambodia has increasingly become a transit country for smuggling illegal ivory. Beginning with outreach to 200 teachers, community leaders and prominent village figures about key environmental issues that affect their lives, the team delivered a comprehensive three-day curriculum covering six topics: 1. Habitat Protection, 2. Wildlife Protection, 3. Pollution Prevention, 4. Sustainable Livelihoods, 5. Water Quality, Waste, and Sanitation, and 6. Energy Use, Climate Change, and Adaptation. These training sessions offered simple, replicable teaching methodologies, lesson planning and practical exercises.
The teams also developed a comprehensive, interactive student curriculum that focused on priority species, including Asian Elephants. The team’s approach was education about charismatic species helps protect all wildlife by promoting a greater understanding of the ‘bigger picture’ and the role that each species has to play, including humans. Nearly 50,000 students took part in these lessons!
Field trips to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC) reinforced classroom lessons by providing personal experience and emotional connections with charismatic ambassador animals that are victims of the illegal wildlife trade. These trips helped participants learn more about their natural heritage, develop a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife, and see firsthand the negative consequences of destructive choices like setting snares.
Education combined with personal experience is one of the most powerful ways to influence change. Because of your support, this work in Cambodia is making strides towards positive community action for elephants. This project will be featured in our September Conservation Chat.
IEF’s Conservation Chats are a way to connect you directly to work being done around the world.
Join us on World Ranger Day (July 31st) for our next Conservation Chat. Sign up for free here, and see you on Monday, July 31st at 9am PST/11am CST.
You can watch some of our previous Conservation Chats on our websitehere, and we will continue to add more!