“The fight against fires should begin with the fight for hearts and minds of the local people” – is a strong assurance of the Phoenix Fund staff who have been involved in conservation of Amur leopard habitat for more than 10 years.
A unique comic strip – colouring book has been published by the Phoenix Fund thanks to beneficial cooperation with Natalia Drobysheva, an author of the story and a highly skilled teacher, and Margarita Kozyreva, a third-year student who drew comic strip characters. The comic strip chronicles the adventures of an Amur leopard cub and other characters and illustrates danger caused by people due to their negligence towards the environment. This book is a new tool to attract children’s attention towards conservation of the Amur leopard and its habitat. This comic strip is designed for self-tuition at home as well as for teachers and tutors working in kindergartens and primary schools. All the pages can be printed and colored. Using this book, parents, teachers and tutors can discuss with the children basic rules of fire safety in forest and foster careful attitude towards nature.
«Our long-term experience in running fire-fighting projects in Southwest Primorye let us develop an integrated and efficient programme on fire-fighting and prevention measures. In spring fire season all fires detected were put out immediately. Thanks to well-coordinated work of volunteers and specialists of Kedrovaya Pad Nature Reserve and Leopardovy wildlife refuge, we managed to prevent fires from spreading into the protected area. However, despite of these achievements it is sad to note that 97% of fires are caused by people. Agricultural burnings, careless handling of fire, unattended camp fires and lighted cigarette butts pose a serious threat to the survival of the remaining 40 individuals of the Amur leopard population in the wild. For that very reason we believe that work with local communities through environmental education and outreach is the most important component of nature conservation activities, and this work first need to be carried out with the young generation” , said Sergei Bereznuk, Director of the Phoenix Fund.
The first copies of the comic strip have been delivered to schools and eco-centres in the Khasan district. Reading a story at class, the children grasped fire safety rules very well and with great pleasure learnt about the adventures of the leopard cub that had to safe its life from forest fire.
The publication of the comic strip was possible thanks to financial support from the BBC Wildlife Fund.