As I approached the Laclubar elementary school, the classrooms erupted in shrieks and giggles as the children pressed up to the open barred windows to get a glimpse of the strange “Malae” woman approaching with bags of books, crayons and paper. They could not contain their excitement when they realised we going to do some activities, their eager eyes focused on the materials being laid out on the teachers table. I started by showing pictures of Australian animals and birds, explaining how they lived, what they ate and how they carried their babies. We passed around postcards, posters and books so they could individually examine the unfamiliar echnidas, emus and koalas. Shouts of recognition went up when they saw cockatoos, a possum and lizards. I asked them “What wild animals do you see in your forests?” Almost in unison, I heard “Laku” (the Asian palm civet), “Monkey”, “Nike” (Bat), and other species such as green tree frogs, Northern cuscus, snakes and coloured parrots.
The children in classes one and two enjoyed colouring in pictures of various animals, birds, frogs, snakes, bats and geckos. They pawed over books about lizards, frogs, koalas and kangaroos; some counting numbers and colours. Joaquin, my translator from secondary school, engaged the children in explaining information in the books and giving positive feedback on their artwork. We finished with group photos with the children proudly showing their pictures. Future biodiversity education activities will focus on integrating information on wildlife found in the biodiversity surveys and local ecological knowledge to encourage more interest in wildlife conservation.