|Kalabia Conservation Education Program|
The much-anticipated education boat, MV Kalabia (the local name for the walking shark) was official launched by the governor of West Papua on September 30, 2008. This colorful 34 meter boat, a joint-initiative between Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, and the Raja Ampat Government, will tour the islands spending a few days at each village or group of small villages to deliver highly-interactive experiential conservation education programming to the communities.
During the start-up phase of the program, the Conservation International Education Team will focus mainly on youth activities and lessons, but eventually it will be a three-pronged program, extending its reach to adults, including fishermen and women, as well as incorporate a specific teacher-training program to ensure the longer-term sustainability of the initiative, and have a lasting impact on the conservation of these precious islands
The 3-day comprehensive marine conservation education program has been designed from the ground up – developed to build community knowledge, awareness, and a sense of pride and ownership of their marine natural resources, while urging conservation of these unique ecosystems. The program itself is a highly-interactive series of activities and lessons in which students learn about basic marine biology, ecology, and conservation.
Through exploratory hand-on activities, students will gain basic knowledge about coral reef, mangrove, and seagrass ecosystems and their functions, as well as an understanding of concepts such as habitats, webs of life, ecological connectivity, and carrying capacity. Most importantly, the education team has carefully crafted the module to address the issue of threats to marine conservation in Raja Ampat. The critical issues, which were identified with stakeholders, include destructive fishing using dynamite and cyanide, consumption of sea turtles and their eggs, throwing garbage into the ocean, coral mining for construction, pollution from mining activities, and over-fishing of certain species (e.g., shark-finning, groupers, and anchovy). Nothing could be more effective than participants learning to snorkel and seeing with their own eyes the difference between bombed reef, and reef which is still intact and healthy!
The marine conservation education program will be delivered to the 88 remote villages of Raja Ampat by a dedicated team of caring conservation educators, headed by the marine conservation education program coordinator, supported by Canadian Education Consultant Angela Beer, as well as four locally-hired marine conservation educators, who have received intensive training.
Feel free to contact Angela Beer at any time if you are interested in obtaining more information, or donating to the program!