Tag Archives: protect animals

Celebrating Biodiversity: A Video of AoC’s Pratt Exhibition & Fundraiser

From Julie

The generous and talented couple, Wendy and Alan Kaplan, offered their time and talent at our recent event in New York. They mixed and mingled with our guests, grabbed quiet moments for conversation, and covered the evening of talks, art on display, music, and celebration of Planet Earth’s glorious biodiversity. Philip Hanes came to our rescue and put the clips together. Thank you very much Wendy, Alan, and Philip!

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 Scenes from Art of Conservation’s Exhibition & Fundraiser at Pratt Institute Manhattan. 22 November 2013

You Are Invited! AoC Exhibition & Fundraiser at Pratt/NYC

From Julie

Hi Friends and Supporters,
Please join us at our upcoming Exhibition & Fundraiser at Pratt Institutes’s Manhattan gallery space on 14th Street in November. All the information you need is below and here. Let’s bring in the holiday season together while we save species at the same time! We appreciate your support very much!

Art of Conservation invitation to Exhibition & Fundraiser 2013

AoC promotes one-health conservation through education and empowerment.
Founded in 2006, the organization encourages learning through creative expression, combining science-based lesson plans with visual art, poetry, song, dance and sports. AoC develops both in- and out-of-school lesson plans specific to each community and its conservation challenges. During its seven years in Rwanda, AoC provided children with thousands of hours of educational programming. New initiatives have been launched in Guyana and Panama.

Benefit Ticket: $75 (Cocktail attire suggested)
Includes cocktails, light fare and a gift bag.

For more info and to purchase a ticket online: http://www.art-of-conservation.org/pratt

Tickets are going fast so please don’t miss out.

All photos, original watercolor paintings from our team in Rwanda, copies of children’s artwork developed in AoC classes and great silent auction items are for sale and make great gifts for the holidays coming up.

All tickets and purchases are tax deductible and benefit Art of Conservation, a 501(c)(3).

AoC contact: [email protected]

Pratt contact: Cheryl Stockton Email: [email protected]

Bring Back The Cat

Leopard drawings by students of Art of Conservation 2011.A collection of children’s leopard drawings with a photograph I took last year in Botswana.

Today’s blog relates to the culmination of our year-long intensive conservation and health education classes with a terrific group of 200 plus children and their classroom teachers. By this point in our program, we’ve spent an extensive amount of time explaining what makes Volcanoes National Park a healthy ecosystem and why the health of the forest has significance in our daily lives however challenging our days may be. Our students now understand that not only is the survival of the critically endangered mountain gorilla of great import, but the other forest inhabitants well-being is just as vital. Hence our recent and comprehensive look at the golden monkey, bushbuck, forest buffalo, and rodentia… a beautiful cast of characters!

Most of the forest animals have been seen by the children outside of the park which led the team and I to speak to this human/wildlife conflict with discussions and eventually possible solutions on paper as the hands-on activity. It’s always nice to come away with possible solutions rather than perpetual feelings of defeat or fright.

Yes, the leopard conjures up feelings of fright for the children but after viewing this animal in other ways I noticed the children were much more open to the concept of being its neighbor albeit with a certain set of respectful boundaries!

Learning about leopards.  Art of Conservation 2011Learning about leopards.

We get to a point in our discussion when children and the AoC team alike share leopard folklore. The stories are priceless. Valerie shares with us her experiences of growing up in the Rwandan countryside as a member of the Abanyankuzo people which, by the way, the Abanyankuzo girls are known as being very intelligent, of course! Valerie, as a little girl, remembers hearing that when a mother delivers her baby a leopard will come round the house to kiss the newborn and then leave.

At a young age, Valerie was also told that it was taboo to say ‘leopard’ at night before going to bed because a leopard would then come and kill them in their sleep. If she or one of her siblings uttered the word ‘leopard’ they would quickly say, “Nkoze ku gahera ndi umugenzi nawe ukaba undi.” Saying these Kinyarwanda words would prevent the leopard coming during the night to harm them.

Also, when the bird called ‘rushorera’ in Kinyarwanda would call out its warning this would alert Valerie and her siblings that a leopard was near. Upon hearing the rushorera, you can be sure that Valerie and her siblings would immediately run to their house for saftey.

Innocent, Olivier, Eric, and Eusebe have also gathered invaluable stories about the leopard which we will continue to share with you.

Eusebe begins the drawing lesson.  AoC 2011Eusebe at the chalkboard leading the children in a leopard drawing.

I receive mixed information from children and adults as to whether or not leopards are still in and around Volcanoes National Park. It may be that they are found mostly on the DRC side of the Virungas. I also tend to think that our students get civets, genets, and African cats mixed up with leopards. Hopefully now after our lesson they have a better understanding of this beautiful and elusive animal and the many threats it faces. Excessive hunting and loss of habitat are two threats that all the animals are facing and which we hope our students fully recognize.

Our health and the health of wildlife is inextricably connected. We should feel it our duty to care and protect the forests and animals no matter what part of the world we live in.

Even The King of Thieves Needs A Home, Yeah

Giant Pouched Rats, otherwise known as the King of Thieves to our students, is yet another important part of The Virungas ecosystem albeit a more comical component to the children. Every year, we get to the point when we closely study animals living in and near Volcanoes National Park which includes talk of rodentia as well as the famous mountain gorillas, golden monkeys, bushbucks, forest buffaloes, and forest elephants, to name a few.
A collection of children's drawings from Art of Conservation. 2011.  Giant-pouched rats.A collection of children’s drawings of the Giant Pouched Rat which I show here moving through an underground labyrinth, some with precious things like coins, hoes, and radios that the children insist the rats steal from them.

Field guide books, visuals, and masks are filtered throughout the classroom as we discuss the rats’ current population status, characteristics, recognition, distribution, habitat, and behavior.

Eric helps students. AoC 2011Eric helps students with their drawings.

Perhaps you remember our song Heroes of the Forest that the children sing and perform. The Giant Pouched Rat is featured in the performance along with many of the other animals we find around here.

Studying animals. Art of Conservation 2011A student drawing and painting.

To draw a rat, you should feel like a rat.  AoC 2011Wearing the mask, a student draws his picture of the Giant Pouched Rat.

Stealing Potatoes: Children’s Human/Wildlife Conflict Solutions on Paper

We all know that wild animals inside Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park do not necessarily comply with border laws be it passing over to the Congo side or to the Uganda side of The Virunga Massif let alone allowing their curiosities to stimulate them over the park boundary walls where they meet the dangers of the human population.

To teach a lesson about how people and animals can live side by side we ask the children, our students, what they do when Golden Monkeys are in the cultivated fields outside of the park. The team and I know only too well that mayhem ensues more time than not in such situations. The very classroom we teach in twice per week at Rushubi School is where earlier in the year a Golden Monkey sought refuge after getting frightened and disoriented as masses of children stampeded and threw rocks at him/her. The Golden Monkey survived after no less than two calls to the park service and the Gorilla Vets, but much time was wasted and lessons definitely not learned.

Farmland/national park.  Art of Conservation 2011The dividing line between the national park and farmland.

We’ve been told that a designated person in each village is responsible for reporting wild animals outside of the park. We suggest to the children to seek out this person first, but no matter what, protect themselves and the animal by not attacking, scaring, or teasing the animal. To truly get this lesson to resonant, we ask the children to illustrate what they will do next time a wild animal is outside of the park. Please enjoy their pictures.

Shoo, stop stealing our potatoes.  Art of Conservation 2011.

Hey local leader.  Art of Conservation 2011

Go back to the forest.  Art of Conservation 2011.

It's how the song goes.  Art of Conservation 2011

Golden Monkeys In Art: Have You Ever Seen So Many?

Known to the children as inkima, the endangered Golden Monkey is still found in Rwanda’s national parks especially right here at Volcanoes National Park. When asked about monkey folklore, the children gave the team and me a good laugh by sharing the story of how pregnant women in Rwanda refrain from laughing at golden monkeys fearing to give birth to a baby with a face similar to a golden monkey’s.
Golden Monkeys by children at Art of Conservation 2011.Golden Monkeys 1, drawings by AoC students.

The children also relate that when they collect firewood they see Golden Monkeys leaping from tree to tree. They say this is lots of fun. Our talk then turns toward this primate’s current population status, characteristics, recognition, distribution, habitat, and behavior. Many visuals and masks are passed around the classroom.

Painting Golden Monkeys by Art of Conservation 2011.To draw a Golden Monkey one must really get into the feeling of being a Golden Monkey, or something like that!

We ask the children what they believe are the threats to Golden Monkeys and their habitat. Most of them agree that illegal activity in the forest such as cutting down bamboo and trees and setting snares are big problems for the monkeys. We add that people are putting great pressure on natural resources which forces natural spaces to disappear. Plus dog owners who let their animals roam freely at night surely allow them to enter the forest and hunt and why not a tasty little inkima as their next meal?

Golden Monkeys 2 by Art of Conservation students. 2011Golden Monkeys 2, drawings by AoC students.

AoC students follow Eric.  2011Now the fun part, students are guided by Eric and Eusebe and make pictures of Golden Monkeys. Eric is shown above.

Golden Monkeys 3.  Pictures by children at Art of Conservation 2011Golden Monkeys 3, drawings by AoC students.

Now that’s a lot of Golden Monkey! All created by Rwandan children between the ages of 10 to 15. These children are living right next to the park border and we are doing our best to educate them about the environment and nurture their compassion to protect it!

Drawing a golden monkey.  AoC 2011AoC student concentrating on his work.

STOP The Bushmeat & Illegal Trade of Animals, Part 3

STOP The Bushmeat & Illegal Trade of Animals, Part 3
Imagine walking by a market and seeing a baby gorilla with a snare still fixed around its wrist in a basket… and the gorilla is for sale. After several recent gorilla orphans were confiscated from poachers in Rwanda and DRC, the Art of Conservation team shared with its students issues of the bushmeat crisis and the illegal trade of animals. After our discussion, the children produced these drawings with that image in mind of a gorilla for sale – barely surviving – in a basket at a market.

STOP the bushmeat trade!  AoC 2011

STOP the bushmeat trade.  Drawings by AoC students 2011.

Art of Conservation, 2011.

STOP The Bushmeat & Illegal Trade of Animals, Part 2

STOP The Bushmeat & Illegal Trade of Animals, Part 2
Imagine walking by a market and seeing a baby gorilla with a snare still fixed around its wrist in a basket… and the gorilla is for sale. After several recent gorilla orphans were confiscated from poachers in Rwanda and DRC, the Art of Conservation team shared with its students issues of the bushmeat crisis and the illegal trade of animals. After our discussion, the children produced these drawings with that image in mind of a gorilla for sale – barely surviving – in a basket at a market.

Children's illustrations.  Art of Conservation 2011

Stop the bushmeat trade!   Art of Conservation 2011

STOP the bushmeat trade!  Art of Conservation 2011

PASA’s Educators Workshop, KonTiki Hotel – Hoima District.

Hi readers! Valerie here reporting again on my recent trip to Uganda for the PASA 2011 Education Workshop.

Our second day of the workshop took place at KonTiki Hotel – Hoima District. To reach there we had to travel for 5 hours. This trip was also good and very important for each participant I think, for we were learning as we travelled. On our trip, we had icebreakers such as songs with conservation messages and warm-up exercises.

Valerie's brief AOC presentation at PASA Education Workshop in Entebbe, Uganda 2011.I am giving my presentation at PASA Educators Workshop.

Upon arrival at the KonTiki Hotel, we settled in again and continued our activities. We entered the workshop room and then it was my time to present my brief introduction to Art of Conservation’s programs. I could hardly wait my turn to present because I was so excited to share what we do at Art of Conservation. People liked my presentation and they appreciated the work we are doing to protect primates and their habitat. After my presentation I continued to share with other participants what we do and the next step was about sharing, learning, exchanging ideas and celebrating. I liked this because they are in common with Art of Conservation’s Code of Conduct!

Valerie with PASA members.  Uganda 2011.We keep having a great time and I asked my new friends and colleagues to have a group photo.

PASA and Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund organized visits to field activities. We had a great time seeing various fantastic community projects in action.

Watching children perform Munteme Primary School in Uganda.  2011The children of Munteme Primary School perform for PASA Educators Workshop participants.

These children were so happy to welcome us at their school. As they are part of Ngamba Island Community for Primate Conservation Programs, they sang songs about the importance of protecting wildlife and danced to songs about the work with CSWCT. We were able to experience how much the program has influenced attitudes and knowledge about the value of the forest and the animals. They also showed us some handicrafts they make in order to generate income so that they get busy instead of going to the forest to harm to the environment. The children also participated in “Plant a tree and give it a name campaign”. I loved very much what these kids do because they will change the community and they will be future conservationists.

Lessons on Predator and Prey

Olivier here again with more scenes from the classroom.
We like to offer our students lots of visuals and other materials for a hands-on learning experience. With photographs being passed around, we continue our ongoing lesson about Food Chains: What Eats What & Who Eats Who. (please see previous blog)

Leopard in the trees with impala kill. Botswana.  AoC 2011Look! A Leopard with its shining eyes and an impala kill up in a tree. This is a good example to illustrate the concepts of predator and prey.

Impalas prey to the leopard. AoC 2011A photo of impala that was taken in Akagera National Park last year during Team AoC’s retreat. (Please click here for retreat blog) These animals are many in this park situated in the eastern part of Rwanda and they are food for predators living there.

We teach our children about domesticated animals and wild ones. (another blog-Be Kind To Animals with Dr. Magdalena and her dog Arwen) Domesticated dogs are so important to human beings because they protect their masters and livestock from danger. African Wild Dogs, or painted dogs, are also important because they are part of Africa’s landscape, so as humans we are to protect them.

Valerie with photo from Peter Riger.  Domesticated dog protecting sheep and goats.  AoC 2011 Valerie holds a photo from Peter Riger taken in Botswana of a domesticated dog protecting goats and sheep from cheetah and leopard.

As you know, African Wild Dogs are unique to Africa and they are among this continent’s carnivores. They are also endangered. They are faced with shrinking room to roam and are also susceptible to diseases spread by domestic animals.

Peter Riger's photo of Painted Dogs in Zim.  AoC 2011More photos of African Wild Dogs taken from Zimbabwe by Peter Riger during his recent visit to Painted Dog Conservation.