Engaging Malagasy Children in Conservation Issues
Photography Inspiring Children in Conservation (PICC)
The PICC program (website) (flyer, pdf) is scheduled to launch its first 2-week session in summer 2019 in Madagascar. It will educate Malagasy students in lemur biology, behavior and conservation issues through photography, illustration and storytelling, improving knowledge and inspiring appreciation of the ecological, cultural, and economic value to their communities when protecting lemurs and their habitats. The students will learn using activity books, workshops and field photography. Students will learn to develop scientifically accurate stories and illustrations and will be encouraged to develop unique lemur conservation ideas and contribute to their communities using their new skills.
The students will be taken into the animals’ habitat to spend a full day observing and photographing well-habituated populations of lemurs. The students will also experience the animals’ habitat and gain an appreciation for its behavior and needs. While in the field, the students will be taught to make detailed observational notes to accompany their photographs, adding an important skill to their repertoire.
Students will work in the classroom with PICC team members to develop stories with scientifically accurate illustrations and text. The program staff will assist the students in putting the photographs, illustrations and stories together to demonstrate effective communication methods, skills which can be further developed and used after the program is completed for careers in tourism and conservation.
A village-wide gathering will be held at the completion of the program, introducing the community and other students to the photographs, illustrations and stories that the program students have produced. The PICC students will be named “Lemur Ambassadors” and receive a certificate of completion. These Lemur Ambassadors can proudly share their images, experiences and knowledge with their parents and community, extending the teaching benefits and in the process developing strong allies for the animals within the community.
After the project completion, students will have the opportunity to raise conservation funds through sales of a book of their work to tourists, and raise awareness through the distribution of a free multilingual poster showcasing their photos and stories.
An internationally experienced filmmaker has agreed to join the PICC team and develop a 15-minute film about the project, engaging the audience with the beauty and fascinating behaviors of the lemurs, highlighting the conservation issues faced by lemurs and Malagasy communities and showing the benefits to the community of lemur conservation. The film will include a list of opportunities where viewers can become engaged with conservation projects that will directly benefit lemurs and their habitats.
An internet-connected iPad will be maintained in a central location for teachers and students to sustain learning. The PICC website will provide a moderated platform for teachers and students to post drawings, creative stories, and access learning resources.
This project is partially supported by a generous grant from the American Society of Primatologists Conservation Committee, 2018. We have gathered an exciting team of multilingual experts in lemur biology, photography, illustration, storytelling, conservation issues, and the Malagasy culture to help to lead the students and teachers through the program.
How can you help? All of our project team members are donating their time, skills and personal funds to advance lemur conservation through this project. However, additional funds are needed for printing, student materials, and logistics in order to successfully accomplish all components of this program. In-kind services and contributions are welcome! To see how you can help, please visit Support Us or contact us at: PICCmadagascar@gmail.com.
Lemur Conservation Coloring Book
The first edition of my lemur conservation coloring and activity book was co-authored with lemur biologist Dr. Amber Walker-Bolton, University of Toronto, Scarborough, in March 2018. Designed for Malagasy students involved with her program, “The Red Book Challenge“, the coloring book is in both English and Malagasy and provides information on lemur behavior, natural history, and conservation issues, coloring pages and other educational activities. Dr. Walker-Bolton shared it with teachers and students when she conducted her research in Berenty, Madagascar in April 2018 (see photos below).