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‎"A mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leipzig Zoo supports Club P.A.N.

The Leipzig Zoo announced that they will be supporting the 2008-2009 session of Club P.A.N. by donating €6500 (~$8,210 USD) to the project by the end of January 2009.

The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the Conservation Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology are extremely grateful for this outpouring of generosity from the Leipzig Zoo.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Club P.A.N. video

A movie put together by Cristina Gomes, video from Julia Riedel, from the 2007-2008 Club P.A.N. year

Friday, November 7, 2008

Capacity building for environmental education

Report: Club P.A.N. teacher training session and workshop, Soubré, Ivory Coast (October 24th – 26th, 2008)

Despite the massive success of Club P.A.N. in its first year of operations, we realized that several of our teachers are not well educated in biology and that some capacity building was needed so that they would be better able to teach the Club P.A.N. lessons. To guarantee that the lesson plan and activities we developed could have the utmost impact during the school year, we decided to host training sessions to increase the capacity for environmental education in the Club P.A.N. teachers in Ivory Coast. Funding for this teacher outreach program was obtained from the
Minnesota Zoo. Thus, the second year of Club P.A.N. began with a 3 day workshop for five of the ten Club P.A.N. teachers in Soubré, located on the eastern side of the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast.

The five Club P.A.N. teachers of the eastern side of Taï National Park.

The teachers from the western side of the park will also be involved in a second workshop programmed for December 2008 in Taï village. For logistical reasons it was not possible to bring all the teachers to one location in October, as the western teachers were unable to travel to Soubré for several days as the school year had already begun.

The five Club P.A.N. teachers of the western side of Taï National Park together with Mr. Ouattara the local coordinator of the nature club.

Table 1 outlines the schedule of the October workshop. During this training session, Claudia Borchers, a member of the Max Planck Institute Conservation Group, taught the Club P.A.N. teachers basic biology and environmental education. She used power point presentations with biological definitions and facts combined with games, songs, role-playing activities, movies and poems, to not only educate the teachers, but to also show them how best to interact with the children participating in Club P.A.N.. Special emphasis was placed on pedagogical methods like group-work, science experiments, and outdoor excursions to interact with the natural world.
Claudia Borchers during an excursion with the teachers in Soubré. This excursion was about soil, air and water pollution. Here the participants discuss how the oil from the truck is polluting the soil. The teachers will do this same excursions with the Club P.A.N. students.

Mr. Ouattara & Mr. Guilahoux, the on site coordinators of Club P.A.N. along with Claudia Borchers presented the attendance and evaluation results from the 2007-2008 Club P.A.N. and discussed these results along with how to improve Club P.A.N. for the 2008-2009 school year. Firstly, a detailed teaching schedule was devised by the working group so that Club P.A.N could be planned around the existing curriculum. Secondly, as was done last year, teachers presented practice lessons to each other and afterwards discussed and gave feedback on the presentations. The teachers were incredibly motivated to learn more about biology and ecology and were keenly interested in the nature documentaries and slide shows that were presented. They also greatly enjoyed the games and the experiments which they assured us would be incorporated to a greater degree into the lessons. Everyone agreed that Club P.A.N. should not be like any normal school lessons but highly interactive and fun.

Table 1: Schedule of the September workshop


9am: Opening of the workshop and teacher training by Claudia Borchers, Mr. Ouattara & Mr. Guilahoux, Mr. Douhoure (the primary school inspector) and Col. Tondossama (the director of Taï National Park)
Discuss the first Club P.A.N. year.

* Presentation of results and pitfalls of year 1

Organize the second year of Club P.A.N.:

Present the problems with this years budget shortage

2. Present and develop the 2008-2009 timetable
3. Presentation on the importance of evaluations and how to properly undertake a scientific evaluation
Work on lessons 1-5
Pedagogical methods: games, group-work, experiments, excursions
* Define the key aspects of each lesson
* Reiteration of the most important biological knowledge from each lesson

8:30am: Work on lessons 6-10 Pedagogical methods: games, group-work, experiments, excursions
* Define the key aspects of each lesson
* Reiteration of the most important biological knowledge from each lesson

Discussion: utilization of experiments and games

Organization of parents’ day: how best to get the conservation message out of the schools and into the villages

Preparation of the practice lessons

4:30pm: Watch documentary film about insects


8:30am: Two practice lessons with children and discussion about the pedagogical methods and the content used
2:30pm: Visit to a cane rat farm: School children can learn to raise cane rats as an alternative to bushmeat hunting in the national park

We would like to give our deepest thanks to the Minnesota Zoo for funding this workshop

UPDATE: Club P.A.N. is now featured on the Minnesota Zoo's webpage under their Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant Program Awards section

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Club P.A.N. day at the Leipzig Zoo

Julia Riedel fundraising for Club P.A.N. at the Leipzig Zoo

Thanks to everyone who visited us at the Leipzig Zoo Saturday, Nov 1st!

Our three Club P.A.N. gorillas entertained zoo visitors while members of the MPI Conservation Group guided children in chimpanzee mask making. Visitors also were treated to monkey oragami courtesy of Gouagami (Click here to make your own!) and could sign their name on a leaf to add it to our conservation tree.

We raised just under 100€ today and the money will be used to support Club P.A.N.'s activities in Ivory Coast.

If you would like to donate to Club P.A.N. please visit the WCF website or contact Julia Riedel:

The Club P.A.N. gorillas
(Laura Muniz, Jessica Junker & Mimi Arandjelovic)

Julia Riedel & Caroline Deimel help children and parents make chimpanzee masks

Adrian Melnyk shows a visitor how to make a
Gouagami mokey (click here for instructions!)

Caroline Deimel, Julia Riedel and Adrian Melnyk making masks and Gouagami

The Club P.A.N. gorillas entertaining zoo visitors

Franka Simea Schaebs adds signed leaves to our conservation tree

Julia Riedel and Doreen Schulz crafting with zoo visitors

Grit Schubert demonstrates how to make a
Gouagami monkey (click here for instructions!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Club P.A.N. July 2008 update

Due to the massive success of Club P.A.N.'s first year, the club will be continuing on in the 2008-2009 school year.
the Conservation Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Department of Primatology is currently looking for funding for the second year of Club P.A.N.'s activities and is happy to report that $2,500 (USD) from the Minnesota Zoo's Ulysses S. Seal Conservation Grant Program and $4,220 (USD) from the Amersfoort Zoo's Jellow Wildlife Fund has already been awarded to the club. Several other grants have been submitted and we are still in need of much funding to assure that all operations run smoothly in 2008-2009, if you are interested in funding club P.A.N., please contact Julia Riedel (riedel @ or Hedwige Boesch (hboesch @

The Conservation Group is made up entirely of graduate students from the department who want to participate in conservation activities in addition to their doctoral studies.
The current members of Club P.A.N. are:
Caroline Deimel, Cristina Gomes, Geneviève Campbell, Grit Schubert, Julia Riedel, Laura Muniz, Mimi Arandjelovic, Sandra Tranquilli, Thomas Breuer, Yasmin Moebius & Claudia Borchers.
from left to right:Mimi, Genevieve, Cristina, Julia, Laura, Yasmin, Caroline, Grit, Thomas, Sandra & Claudia (front and center: Ursus & Ronja)

To read up on how Club P.A.N. got started visit our earlier post on the conservation group or visit club P.A.N. on the WCF webapge
The WCF provides the infrastructure and capacity for the Conservation Group to carry out Club P.A.N. in Ivory Coast. Dr. Ilka Herbinger of the WCF, Ivory Coast will continue to run and organize the logistics for the project in country. Guilahoux Hilaire (Coordonnateur Général CPE) and Ouattara Dabila (Coordonnateur CPE-IEP, Soubré) will also continue to run the day-to-day operations of Club P.A.N. in 2008-2009 and travel between all the villages and classes where the club is held. Without their dedication and support the program would never have attained the success that it has so far.

We look forward to a productive, enlightening and fun 2008!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Club P.A.N. February 2008 update

Club P.A.N. has now been up and running since October 2007, each of the classes participating in club P.A.N. have been guided through one nature lesson per week so far and everything has been running even better than expected!

In February, Club P.A.N. held a “journée pedagogique”, a day for the various teachers, assistants and students of club P.A.N. to come together and exchange their ideas and experiences on the lessons and activities. Below are some of the videos and photos from the day and from the lessons that have taken place so far.

The exchange was fruitful and a huge success, many important dignitaries from the Taï region and beyond were present to show their support for club P.A.N. Some of the classes have even come up with club P.A.N. songs composed by the school groups themselves. We hope to pick the best song at the end of the year as our club P.A.N. theme!

The Conservation Group would like to thank the organizers of Club P.A.N operating in Ivory Coast (click on all images to enlarge):

as well as the many suporters of club P.A.N.:

Club P.A.N. would not be possible without the help of the directors of the participating schools:

and the teachers that give the lessons (a few of whom are shown below):

Below are some images and videos taken from the Club P.A.N. classes that were ongoing in February 2008 (all pictures taken by Julia Reidel)
Club P.A.N. Paulé-oula:

Club P.A.N Sakré 1. Their instructor, Modeste Gnonkonte (in orange) built this bamboo outdoor classroom for his students so that they would be immersed in the nature they are studying.

Club P.A.N. Ziriglo:

Some more images from the February classes:

Finally, a few videos of the classes and songs that have been developped by the clubs:
Club P.A.N. Sakré present their songs about "le papillion" (the butterfly) and Club P.A.N.:

A girl from the club P.A.N. that operates in the village of Petit Tiemé, sings the Petit Tiemé club P.A.N. song:

The Club P.A.N. that operates in the village of Ziriglo, is shown in this video clip from one of their meetings in February 2008.

October 2007 workshop in Abidjan, Ivory Coast

In October 2007, a Workshop was hosted by Cristina Gomes, Chloe Cipoletta, Dr. Ilka Herbinger, Mr Guilahoux Hilaire and Mr Ouattara Dabila, where the teachers from the Club P.A.N. schools were introduced to the project.

The goal of the workshop was to introduce the teachers from the schools around the Tai National Park to the lessons and activities of club P.A.N. In the clip you will see the teachers acting as if they are students learning the lessons.

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology's Conservation Group & Club P.A.N.

(from left to right, rear row: Thomas Breuer, Cristina Gomes, Celestin Kouakou, Mimi Arandjelovic. front row: Julia Riedel, Shelly Masi, Claudia Borchers)

Club P.A.N. is the brain child of Thomas Breuer and Julia Riedel. Thomas has been involved in a similar program Club Ebobo in schools around the field site at which he studies gorillas, Mbeli Bai, Republic of Congo. Julia has been involved in a cultural exchange project between German and Ivorian schools and thought that a Club Ebobo-type program in Ivory Coast would be perfect for a school system without any environmental studies.

Conservation Group Members who participated in the creation of Club P.A.N. are: Cristina Gomes, Thomas Breuer, Julia Riedel, Mimi Arandjelovic, Shelly Masi and Geneviève Campbell.

The Conservation Group approached the WCF with the club P.A.N. concept, in order to use their framework, solid infrastructure and strong ties with the Ivorian school system (Ministère de l’éducation National: Inspection de l’enseignement Primaire de Soubré1 (CPE)) to plan and organize the activities of the education program. Club P.A.N. has so far been able to obtain funding from the following granting agencies: Cleveland Zoo ($2981 USD), Columbus Zoo ($5000 USD), Rufford Small Grant (£4503 BPS), the WWF (2,952,000 FCFA) and a Conservation Education Suitcase from the Brevard Zoo (valued at $900 (USD)).

The Conservation Group was also responsible for designing the 10 lessons for club P.A.N. for the 2007-2008 schoo l year. Club P.A.N. is indebted to the many francophone translators who translated our lessons into french, to the artisits, Claudia Farack & Heike Opizzo, and book editor, Andrea Farack, who volunteered their time and skill in illustrating the pages of our text book.

Dr. Ilka Herbinger of the WCF, Ivory Coast has been running the program and organizing the logistics for the project in country. Two Ivorian nationals, Mr Guilahoux Hilaire, (Coordonnateur Général CPE) and Mr Ouattara Dabila (Coordonnateur CPE-IEP, Soubré), have also recently joined the project and will be travelling between the 10 schools around the Tai National Park to supervise and guide the teachers through the club P.A.N. lessons. Club P.A.N. will be operating in the following villages in 2007-2008:

Petit Tiémé
and 4 schools in Soubré.

Our 2007-2008 funders:

Welcome to the club P.A.N. blog

Please visit the club P.A.N. site for more information

Club P.A.N. is part of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation's conservation education program currently operating around the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. The Tai National Park is the largest undisturbed forest block in all of West Africa and home to a large number of western chimpanzees, hence our name P.A.N (the genus name for chimpanzees). P.A.N. also stands for Personnes, Animaux, Nature (People, Animals Nature) as educating people is a crucial part of nature conservation.
The conservation goals of Club P.A.N.

* To teach children around Taï NP about the flora and fauna of the region's ecosystem, so that they appreciate and take pride in the biodiversity that exists in their region
* To teach children basic knowledge on environmental issues in order to promote care and awareness towards nature conservation and its significance
* To discourage the trade in illegal bushmeat by reducing the likelihood that the current generation of children will consume or trade bushmeat in the future
* To promote the conservation and research activities undertaken within the Taï NP, with people that would otherwise have very little contact with the protected area

Bushmeat hunting in the tropics and Ivory Coast
Tropical forests were once widespread throughout West Africa but are continuing to decline, from more than 40 million ha to less than 8 million ha today (Martin, 1989). Consequently, the wildlife in the forests of these tropical countries is also declining at a tremendous rate due to various threats, but most notably due to bushmeat hunting, driven by an ever-increasing protein demand by some of the world's poorest people. Furthermore, the bushmeat trade is the key contributor to local economies in tropical Africa and elsewhere (Robinson et al., 1999; Robinson & Bennett, 2000; Milner-Gullard et al., 2003).

Less than 10% of the original forest-cover remains in Ivory Coast (FAO/World Bank, 1988). The Taï National Park (NP) and the neighboring Reserve N'Zo total 536,000 ha and represent the largest intact and protected forest block in West Africa. The area was registered as a Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and as a UNESCO World heritage site four years later (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000). The Taï NP harbours more than 1400 species of vascular plants, as well as 11 primate species, including the Western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) and a large population of red colobus monkeys (Procolobus badius). The pygmy hippo (Cheoropsis liberensis) is also endemic to this region.

The human population around the Taï NP has increased from 23,000 individuals in 1965 to 375,000 inhabitants in 1988 (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000). This population increase was caused by immigration from both Liberian refugees and settlers from the Sahel region. Settlers from the Sahel immigrated to the region in hopes of establishing farms in deforested areas and gaining employment in the expanding timber industry (Martin, 1991). Refugees from Liberia immigrating into the region caused a 400% increase in human population density in villages west of the Taï NP, reaching up to 135 people/km2 in one area (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000, Kormos et al., 2003). The mass immigration to the region has also resulted in illegal farming activities within the Taï NP (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000).

These factors have certainly increased the demand for bushmeat in the region and are unquestionably having negative impacts on the local wildlife populations. The decline of some species, such as the African forest elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis), have already been studied and documented (Merz & Hoppe-Dominik, 1991). The largest forest elephant population was once found in Taï NP and was estimated to include 800 individuals. However, by the end of the 1980s the population had declined to less than 100 elephants in the region (Merz & Hoppe-Dominik, 1991). Today, the elephants are locally extinct in some areas of the park and researchers only rarely encounter indirect signs of their presence.

Although it is officially forbidden to kill, consume or trade wild animals in Ivory Coast, wildlife harvesting happens on both local and commercial scales with wildlife from within the Taï NP supplying meat for both markets (Caspary et al., 2001)., Illegal hunting is widespread and bushmeat markets are flourishing (Caspary et al., 2001). In 1996, 35.5 million wild animals, totaling 120,000 tons and worth 117 million euros (149 million US dollars), were killed by Ivorian hunters (Caspary et al., 2001). Around Taï NP, Refisch & Koné (2005) estimated that primates were the most commonly hunted taxa and that for most species, hunting was unsustainable. International developing and conservation organizations such as the KfW (Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau), GTZ (Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit), the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), the WCF (Wild Chimpanzee Foundation) together with the OIPR (Office Ivorien des Parcs et Reserves en Cote dIvoire) try to fight against the threats that pose on the fauna and flora of the park through law enforcement, effective surveillance and management techniques, bio-monitoring and education programs and developmental support for neighboring villages.

The chimpanzee population in Ivory Coast is believed to be amongst the largest in West Africa but has dramatically declined from over 100,000 to less than 10,000 individuals in the past few decades (Kormos et al., 2003). Poaching of wildlife has had both direct (chimpanzees constitute around 3% of the species sold in urban markets and served in village restaurants (Caspary et al., 2001)) and indirect consequences for the chimpanzee population in Taï NP. Snares which are laid out to kill forest duikers have caused mortality and injury to the chimpanzees in the region (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000). The presence of poachers can also be very stressful to the animals and hence increase mortality among the chimpanzee population (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000). Furthermore, chimpanzees are considered as pests due their occasional consumption of crops. It is suspected that this crop raiding behavior has led to the death of many male chimpanzees from the chimpanzee research project in the park (Boesch & Boesch-Achermann, 2000). Chimpanzees were once common in Taï NP but are now abundant only in areas where researchers are studying their behavior (Kormos et al., 2003).

In addition to short-term projects aimed at reducing the impact of bushmeat hunting on local wildlife populations, such as increased anti-poaching patrols and other law-enforcement strategies, it is important to consider long-term programs to protect endangered wildlife. In this respect public outreach and awareness programs can play a vital role in changing local attitudes towards the intrinsic value of wildlife.

Conservation education is seen as a priority action for the conservation of chimpanzees and other wildlife (Kormos et al., 2003). Awareness raising campaigns of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) in the past have conveyed the need to conserve chimpanzees through interactive theaters, discussion rounds, films and newsletters. This has happened both at a local scale around Taï NP and internationally. These campaigns are often targeted at adults whereas long-term approaches oriented towards the next generation, have only rarely been employed thus far. Therefore, the conservation group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig Germany (made up of graduate students from the department of primatology) approached the WCF to expand their education activities to include the local schools around the park and from this union, club P.A.N. was created.