Once more, the environmental awareness engagement is going forward and this time, a full morning was reserved for the future of our societies: children!
The prepared activities started at nine o’clock and lasted until noon, providing some hours of entertainment, laughing, singing, playing, eating and, specially, learning!
Twenty eight of them attended, aged between six and fifteen years old. Plus, a local youngster, with nineteen years old and presently in college, came to give an extra help in the translation to Malay, although the majority of this pupils shown to be very proficient in English!
The main subject approached was the current state of Sabah wildlife and its endangered species, alerting for the problems caused by irresponsible human practices.
Firstly, they were introduced to twelve autochthonous and endemic species from Sabah with an endangered status in the IUCN Red List, such as the Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus), the Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), the Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus), between others. In an interactive talk, was described each species natural habitat, population decrease, longevity, gestation period, favourite diet and major threats.
As a prove of the actual situation that, not just Sabah, but the whole world is facing, when they were asked where these species live, all of them answered in chorus: the zoo! And unfortunately they’re not wrong… Some of this species have just a few individuals left and are being kept in Zoos or reserved areas, due to habitat loss provoked by human race.
After the opening session and with some clues already given, was time to start the real fun: team games!
The first one was the memory game, stimulating them to memorize the species’ names. The three formed teams were exemplary, with hundred percent of correct answers. They were really paying attention!
Secondly, came the food chain game, where they had to guess which animal preferred that type of aliment. They were divided by two teams this time, but everyone had the chance to participate individually. And they almost got a total score again! A few mousetraps were given, like soda cans and hamburgers to see their reaction and also to alert for the problem of disposable materials consumption and waste production. Here they could understand that each animal represents an important value in its ecosystem and no specie is less important than the other.
Next came the time to guess the natural habitats and why they’re disappearing. Issues like palm oil exploitation, overhunting, illegal trade, urban growth, pollution and excessive logging were mentioned, transmitting them the importance of preserving Sabah rainforest, the mangroves and the water quality in rivers and the ocean. The three R’s were remembered several times during the activity, explaining the urgency on Reduce consumption, Reuse materials and Recycle the waste.
To finish, after a snack break and some singing to cheer up, the last game was played: the tree of life!
Each kid drew a tree following several steps, identifying every living being that depend on them and all their functions. Summarily they were enlightened about the carbon cycle, the rain catchment, the soil protection and improvement, the habitat for wildlife and all the values for humans.
As a compromise, environmental education and awareness will continue to be a priority, either for children or grownups, with the main goal of re-establishing nature’s balance and life improvement for every living being.
Filipa Gomes (BET intern)