9 Local NGO Schools
Unique hands-on learning experiences
High-quality teaching resources, biofacts and more
Phew, what a year! 2018 was a busy period for Fauna in Focus. The first few months saw the completion and distribution of our second Wildlife Media project, a short film on the Sarus Crane. We partnered with local and international universities to host Cambodia’s first World Wildlife Day. Shortly after that we present ‘A Cambodian Nature Film’ at the 8th Cambodian International Film Festival (CIFF). In 2018 we ran over 60 Wildlife Club pilot programs at a dozen local NGO schools in Siem Reap, reaching hundreds of students who have never experienced any form of quality environmental education before. And to add to the excitement, our parent NGO, Fauna in Focus International, received official US 501(c)3 charity approval from the IRS. Finally, the highlight of 2018 was our office relocation and the initial development of Cambodia’s first ever Nature Discovery Center. We opened to the public in early 2019.
In the meantime, wildlife and natural ecosystems in Cambodia continue to vanish at an alarming rate. Vultures, sarus crane and other critical species counts were lower this year than ever before. Fauna in Focus tackles conservation by addressing the underlying lack of any meaningful education or awareness of nature. It is illogical to expect Zcountry to fully embrace conservation without first building a general public foundation of understanding and appreciation for wildlife and nature. This education and awareness raising is key if we are to build the public support needed for conservation to work, and that is exactly what we are doing at Fauna in Focus.
- Daniel Roper-Jones | Fauna in Focus Project Founder
Samban has been with us from day one, and is known as “The David Attenborough of Cambodia.” He is taking a leadership role in the development of our Cambodian NGO, Fauna in Focus Cambodia.
From infographics to our ecosystems board game, Christie helps design amazing visuals for our many programs. A resident of Siem Reap, Christie puts her considerable skills to good use with Fauna in Focus often.
Ben joined our team for a 4 month internship as part of his university degree, and develop graphics, icons and artistic installations at the nature discovery center. He also got his hands dirty building our organic garden.
An anthropologist, artist, and all around superhero, Kelsey is developing educational installations including life sized birds, recycled trees, elephants and dolphins. She also ran several education programs and events.
Lula joined the team for 2018 to help raise funds for Fauna in Focus and assist with overall project development. She put out dozens of grants, established policies and helped setup new crowdfunding platforms.
Her friends know her as “Monkey”. Rattanak has been an integral part of Fauna in Focus since day one. She started as a Wildlife Instructor, but quickly took on project administration and management duties.
Jenny is our social media guru, and helped setup and run our various online communications channels. She was also integral in setting up and running several public awareness events in 2018.
Hoeung discovered Fauna in Focus through a wildlife club program. She joined to help get things at the center ready, and assist with material fact-checking, translation, and overall project administration.
Oyen is our resident master filmmaker. He volunteers his considerable skills on many of our media productions. In 2018, Oyen joined Fauna in Focus and BirdLife International in production of our Sarus Crane Film.
Our in house MacGyver, Jorge is a computer programmer, entomologist, 3D modeler, and creative builder. Jorge has designed computer software for our center, piloted a planetarium concept, and built realistic 3D models.
The angels over our shoulders, the supporters of everything we do. George and Victoria have single-handedly carried Fauna in Focus throughout 2018. Without them the project would not be where we are today.
Stefan is a life long friend of the project and is assisting with project development and online communications. His skills with formulas and digital marketing make him an invaluable asset to Fauna in Focus.
This year Fauna in Focus made significant progress in the development of our Cambodian Wildlife Club program. These 10 introductory lessons are designed to educate and empower a new generation of nature lovers and conservation leaders. A broad range of wildlife, science and conservation topics are covered, with each lesson designed to international, inquiry-based learning standards that encourage the development of teamwork and critical thinking skills. Each lesson includes interactive media, student discussions, bio-facts, and other high-quality resources to help provide a fun and engaging learning experience unlike anything else currently available in Cambodia.
In 2018, Fauna in Focus piloted the first 5 lessons of our Wildlife Club Program at 12 local NGO schools in Siem Reap. We reached over 200 students, with each school receiving lessons 1 - 5 on a weekly basis.
Unique hands-on learning experiences
High-quality teaching resources, biofacts and more
Foundations of wildlife science
critical thinking, teamwork and leadership
Fauna in Focus was invited to present ‘A Cambodian Nature Film’ at the 2018 Cambodian International Film Festival (CIFF) in Phnom Penh and the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York City. The film was featured in the opening ceremony of CIFF, as well as several screening events and panel discussions around the city. Completed in 2017, this film was our first pilot project in Wildlife Media. Today the film has well over 1 million views online. It is narrated entirely in Khmer (with English subtitles) and explores Cambodia’s biodiversity and conservation efforts.
This was the first World Wildlife Day event held in Cambodia. World Wildlife Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to celebrate the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In 2018, Fauna in Focus partnered with US-based NGO The School For Field Studies (SFS) and Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia (PUC). American and local students from these two partner schools were provided with training on Fauna in Focus learning stations and interactive activities. The event was hosted at Jaya House River Park in Siem Reap, and was open to the general public and visiting schools for free. The event received over 250 visitors, including over 150 local students from various public, private and NGO schools.
Throughout early 2018, Fauna in Focus worked with BirdLife International - Cambodia Programme to produce a short educational film on the vulnerable sarus crane. The film explored the vital ecosystem services along the Mekong river, the biology and ecology of the sarus crane, the threats they face and the conservation and community outreach efforts being carried out by BirdLife International. BirdLife organized a world premiere event at Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, while Fauna in Focus hosted another premiere at The Village Cafe in Siem Reap. Since then, the film has been shared online by both Fauna in Focus and BirdLife International - Cambodia Programme, reaching over 208,000 views online in Cambodia, and even more through screening events. Learn more in part 3.4.
In April 2018, the Cambodian Ministry of Environment (MoE) invited Fauna in Focus to run interactive learning stations at a public awareness event celebrating Cambodia’s incredible biodiversity and the work MoE is doing around the country. Our learning station was a big hit, and saw hundreds of students, teachers and conservation staff visit to explore insects, primates and ecosystems in Cambodia.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform in Cambodia. As such, Facebook has always been a powerful tool for Fauna in Focus. Though we are probably the smallest conservation organization in Cambodia in relation to staffing and budget, we are actually number 4 in terms of our social media reach, followers and engagements. This gives us a large audience and a platform to facilitate positive conversations on Cambodian wildlife and conservation. We use social media, photography, film, art, graphics and infographics to promote simple and clear conservation messages and inspire positive discussions on nature online.
This year Fauna in Focus also launched several new social media channels, including Instagram, Twitter, and Patreon, in an attempt to increase international audiences to help raise support for our work. Click the icons to visit our social media pages:
Fauna in Focus is prototyping several different approaches to our interactive species factsheet idea. Our first working prototypes of our vision are on exhibit at the Nature Discovery Center, including the “Exploring Biofacts” station, “Voices of Conservation” station and “Microscope Station.” These stations are designed to be permanent fixtures at the Nature Discovery Center, however their conceptual designs can be applied or adapted to other devices and experiences.
We are also prototyping several ideas for a mobile citizen science application for smart phones. This will include media lessons, augmented reality games, and importantly a visual database and modern, interactive field guide for Cambodia’s biodiversity.
Since the film premiered in June 2018 it has reached over 208,000 views through the Fauna in Focus Facebook page, BirdLife Facebook Page, and Fauna in Focus YouTube channel, as well as several thousand students and community members through direct screening events. See part 2.7 for more on the film premiere events. The film was sponsored by BirdLife International - Tokyo Programme, with a grant from Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund.
In August 2018, Fauna in Focus completed a complex 3D architectural of our dream Nature Discovery Center, as well as an accompanying promotional video to help raise funds for our Pilot Nature Discovery Center through a new GlobalGiving crowdfunding platform.
This year Fauna in Focus launched a Patreon crowdfunding platform to help support our ongoing media-based outreach campaigns. A short promo video was released on June 6, 2018.
Oyen Rodriguez has volunteered his time and expertise to produce a short Fauna in Focus introduction video, featuring our three core areas of work, Nature Discovery, Environmental Education and Wildlife Media.
Fauna in Focus has completed but not yet released a short memorial piece on Milot, a rescued elephant from the Elephant Valley Project (EVP) who died of old age in 2016. The video is an emotional piece designed to educate and inspire.
In late 2018, the Cambodian Ministry of Environment (MoE) awarded a small film production grant to Fauna in Focus Cambodia. This project aims to develop a short government training video outlining the synergies between the 3 Rio Conventions.
In July 2018, Fauna in Focus began hunting for a new house to turn into Cambodia’s first ever Nature Discovery Center. We were looking for a place that had a certain checklist of criteria, mainly:
More office space for a growing team.
Space for a small wildlife science classroom/cinema
A large indoor hall that would serve as the main visitor information center, complete with interactive activity stations, displays and special exhibits.
Outdoor spaces for a learning garden, butterfly breeding garden and small nature trail.
Model organic farm, compost station and tree nursery space.
Close enough to the center of town to facilitate easy/cheap transportation for both local students and tourists.
In August 2018 we found the perfect spot. We moved in and immediately set to work on our new center
All of the construction and renovation work was done using sustainable processes. All of our display counters and work surfaces were built using old shipping pallets and locally sourced bamboo, a fast growing grass, and did not include any tropical hardwood materials. We also used plastic bottles and other waste items to construct the main centerpiece of the Nature Discovery Center, a giant model tree that grows from the lobby through the floor up into the Jungle Lab Classroom on the second level.
From the moment we moved in we began working on our garden. The small outdoor space at the Nature Discovery Center was mostly empty when we moved in. We began to turn it into a useful outdoor learning space. This includes build an organic model farm, setting up a miniature nature trail, gathering and growing rare orchids from all over Cambodia, and setting up bird and butterfly houses and feeders to attract local wildlife.
In just a few short months, Fauna in Focus designed and built 15 unique interactive activity stations at the Nature Discovery Center. We tried to cram a lot of useful games and information into our small space, including activities designed for young and old, hands on bio-facts, media based stations and outdoor activities in our garden, farm and nursery.