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Conservation in Thailand - Monthly Update April 2008
April has been a busy month with the celebration of the Thai New Year or SongKran and carrying out our conservation work in Krabi. SongKran is a very special holiday in Thailand which goes on for about 5 days. Most people spend time with their families and a number of ceremonies take place at Buddhist temples.
The volunteers joined one where they were blessed and offered special bracelets by the monks and made sand castles outside the temple as the tradition goes.
But SongKran is most renowned for the water battles that go on the streets all around Thailand. The volunteers went on the bus around AoNang with two water tanks and it took them nearly two hours as the traffic was so dense.
As Marten mentioned in the last update, teaching and conservation volunteers joined forces for 3 days to raise environmental with participating children from NonThale and AoNang. Knot had prepared slide shows about reef and mangroves ecology and marine debris which he presented the first day when we had a 'workshop' with games and a play by the volunteers.
Until now we had no game focussing on mangroves so the volunteers developed one about mangroves food webs. We were a little worried about the children's ability to understand and play it, as some of the volunteers had quite a lot of trouble themselves! But the game went very well and it is encouraging to see that the children know the local environment quite well.
On the second day, we took the children to the Krabi mangroves boardwalk where they could observe the vegetation and various animals. They had been told to pay special attention as they were to produce a drawing for the Mangrove Action Project art competition.
On the third day, we all went to Laem Pho for a beach clean at a site where winds bring a lot of debris at this time of the year. We also had tourists joining us for the first time as part of a co-operation we set up with Intrepids.
Intrepids is a guided-tour organisation which focuses on cultural and environmental-friendly experiences. Marten randomly met one of their tour leaders and this led to a group joining on the school camp beach clean and hopefully again in the future.
We collected 541.8kg in total and hopefully the children will take home the message that wild littering can be very devastating.
The school camp ended with an award ceremony where children who had done well during games and at answering questions about Knot's presentations were rewarded with prizes. The three best drawings for the MAP competition also received prizes.
In addition to the beach clean with the children, volunteers went to Klong Muang and Ao Tung where they collected 91.3 and 156.3 kg of litter respectively, bringing the total for this month to 789.4kg.
Another great accomplishment this month was the repair of the bridge at our experimental mangroves nursery in Thung Prasan. The bridge had been a source of worries for a while as it was rather wobbly and slippery. It was particularly difficult to cross as we often carry bulky and heavy equipment with us.
The head of the village, Khun Pairot came along to help as he had supervised the initial building of the bridge. The new bridge has more planks to step on and a more stable handle.
On two more visits to Thung Prasan, the volunteers helped putting soil into bags for the villagers' nursery. They estimated the total number of filled bags to 1,800.
We continued reef monitoring with 6 animal surveys and 3 ReefWatch surveys and also laid 2 more transects, including one at Mu Sang Noi, the reef which Projects Abroad adopted as part of the International Year of The Reef.
Unusual sightings included black tail barracudas, coral banded shrimps, squids, a tigertail seahorse, a leopard shark, many spiny lobsters which move to local islands for breeding at this time of the year, an octopus and a hawksbill turtle.
In terms of reef salvage, we did 4 dives at local sites and 2 dives at Mu Sang Noi. In total, we collected 68kg which consisted mostly of fishing net and a large fish trap. Other items were the usual bottles, cans, and various plastic containers and wraps. We also collected a fair amount from the surface with snorkel.
We ended the month getting ready for a 3 day- 2 nights live-aboard in Phi-Phi with a Thai TV crew shooting a documentary about our marine conservation project! There is always a lot going on during live-aboards and this time even more as the aim is to show as much as we can on the documentary. It will be aired on the 3rd of June and we are all very impatient to see it.
Next month will be quiet at the volunteers' house with no volunteers for a whole week, but it will be busy in the office: finalising a training manual to aid volunteers learning how to do reef surveys and developing new activities for the future.
Click here and see our graphs of the amount of rubbish the volunteers have collected from the reefs and beaches here in Ao Nang in April 2008 - impressive work.
Click here and see our graphs of the amount of rubbish the volunteers have collected from the reefs and beaches here in Ao Nang over 2007 - impressive work.
10th May 2008
Assistant Director for Thailand Conservation