By Venera Amankul, Operations Assistant, Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan.
I traveled to India with my colleague Altyn Kazakbaeva, who is SLFK’s Education and Community Engagement Coordinator, to visit a nature education camp, which was conducted in Spiti, Chomoling, a beautiful pasture above Kibber village.
The main goal of our visit was to learn about the program and observe the way of conducting activities for kids, and to get some information of the organizing procedures in all, as we are about to start running the eco-camp program in the Shamshy Wildlife Sanctuary in Kyrgyzstan sometime next summer.
We were able to consult with Dr. Pranav Trivedi, the Director of Conservation and Education with our India team, who came up with the eco-camp concept and curriculum. He’s been very helpful in preparing our own proposal to the Ministry of Education of Kyrgyzstan to get a permit for conducting nature education camps.
The kids at camp enjoyed good weather, colorful landscapes and very interesting and interactive games. Starting from the very first village of Spiti valley, we were nicely surprised to meet people very similar to us, and later we could feel some similarity of our cultures and even our languages!
We had a great chance to meet participants of the Indian Snow Leopard Enterprise (SLE) program in Kibber village. During the summer, all local women work in their pea farms from early morning until sunset. Despite this, most of them agreed to meet us in the evening, which we appreciated very much.
We also got to visit Key Monastery in Spiti valley, the oldest and biggest one in this area. The monastery has a collection of ancient murals and books of high aesthetic value. The hospitality of the monks is amazing; just like we’re used to from home! One of them welcomed us warmly into his home, offering cups of steaming tea/chai with biscuits, and made a present for all of us!
The next day, we were lucky to be invited to an event which was held in honor of the chief administrative authority. Young monks demonstrated a customized dance and local women performed another local dance to a native song.”
Altyn’s and Venera’s visit to India is a fantastic example of what can be done when we combine our resources and learn from one another. This trip has not only helped them plan and conceptualize the Kyrgyz eco-camps, but has also increased capacity and communication between our incredible field teams in general, which will help strengthen our conservation efforts across the range.