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World Wetlands Day 2016

In celebration of World Wetlands Day, OELO hosted a conference for nature clubs on February 3, 2016. In partnership with the Gabonese Government, Direction Générale de l'Environnement (DGE) and Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN), and with financial support from GEF and the World Bank, five different primary and secondary school nature clubs were invited to take part in [[{"fid":"742","view_mode":"original_image","type":"media","attributes":{"height":864,"width":1296,"style":"letter-spacing: 0.03em; line-height: 1.5em; width: 275px; height: 183px; margin: 2px 5px; float: right;","alt":"Next followed a presentation for the kids and their teachers on Ramsar sites in Gabon: wetlands of international importance by a team from the Directorate General for the Environment and the National Park Agency.","title":"Next followed a presentation for the kids and their teachers on Ramsar sites in Gabon: wetlands of international importance by a team from the Directorate General for the Environment and the National Park Agency.","class":"media-element file-original-image"}}]]a day-long event at Lycée Nguema where they learned about wetlands, exchanged ideas, and proposed solutions for local environmental problems.

The DGE presented on Gabon’s Ramsar Sites, wetlands of international importance, and explained that Lambaréné falls in the middle the largest site in Gabon: the Bas Ogooué. After the presentation, each nature club then performed songs, dances, poems, and sketches they’d created, with themes relating to protecting Gabon’s biodiversity and wetlands. Highlights included, “Les Anges de la Nature” at St Joseph who composed a song and dance about the critically endangered slender-snouted crocodile, and “Nature’s Fuel” at Lycée d’Etat who presented a sketch about the environmental impacts of students’ occupational ambitions. [[{"fid":"743","view_mode":"original_image","type":"media","attributes":{"height":864,"width":1296,"style":"letter-spacing: 0.03em; line-height: 1.5em; width: 350px; height: 233px; margin: 2px 5px; float: right;","alt":"A highlight of the day: everyone was singing and dancing along with a song and dance composed by "Les Anges de la Nature" about slender-snouted crocodile conservation.","title":"A highlight of the day: everyone was singing and dancing along with a song and dance composed by "Les Anges de la Nature" about slender-snouted crocodile conservation.","class":"media-element file-original-image"}}]]

After the performances, Environmental Education Coordinator Rébecca Djanivenda led a discussion of what ecosystem services the Bas Ogooué Ramsar site provides to residents. This led to a conversation about what environmental issues the club members saw in Lambaréné and what they thought they could do personally to resolve those issues. OELO hopes to instill in nature club members a sense of stewardship and responsibility for the future of both their city and the Bas Ogooué Ramsar site. 

[[{"fid":"745","view_mode":"original_image","type":"media","attributes":{"height":864,"width":1296,"style":"letter-spacing: 0.03em; line-height: 1.5em; width: 300px; height: 200px; margin: 2px 5px; float: left;","title":"We ended the day with a contest Projet Faux Gavial: students practiced using Whatsapp as part of a citizen science initiative to record crocodile sightings and bushmeat for sale. Here they are practicing on stuffed animals hidden throughout the school.","class":"media-element file-original-image"}}]]OELO ended the conference with an activity to foster cooperation between the clubs and between age groups. We challenged teams to a slender-snouted crocodile contest, as part of the citizen science initiative, “Projet Faux Gavial,” to record crocodile sightings and bushmeat for sale in the lake region. Armed with just their phones, Whatsapp, and an information card with the pertinent details for the field observation, the students raced around the school grounds searching for stuffed animal [[{"fid":"746","view_mode":"original_image","type":"media","attributes":{"height":864,"width":1296,"style":"letter-spacing: 0.03em; line-height: 1.5em; width: 275px; height: 183px; margin: 2px 5px; float: right;","title":"The contest was also an opportunity for clubs to work together as each group was composed of members from different schools and different age levels. Here the winning team poses for a photo with OELO and Projet Faux Gavial founder, Cyrille Mvele.","class":"media-element file-original-image"}}]]crocodiles and photos of slender-snouted crocodile bushmeat to record. The experience was good practice and a launching platform for continued participation in “Projet Faux Gavial” over the course of the year during which students will submit real observations of crocodiles and bushmeat to better our understanding of local crocodile distribution and commerce.

 

World Wetlands Day’s success resulted from a strong collaboration between OELO and Gabonese governmental conservation partners. Congratulations to all the students and teachers who worked so hard!