The co-operation between Vietnamese and American organisations and enterprises had provided a scientific and educational course, which was never available in archipelago in Viet Nam. The project, called: Biodiversity PEEK – Photography Educating and Empowering Kids (the abbreviation is Project PEEK), helps to train some chosen local teenagers with ages ranging from 13 to 16 years old, to become young scientists, biologists, photographers, and most of all, ambassadors which will spread on news about the biodiversity and uniqueness of where they live.
The economy of Con Dao has developed due to exploiting the abundance of aqua marine resources. However, with the phenomenon of increasingly rapid decline of fish sources in parallel with maintaining overfishing would deplete ocean resources there. Con Dao is also one of the local places, which has the highest biodiversity in Viet Nam with both on land and in the water, with some rare species such as: turtles, dugong. Project PEEK has awarded the students in Con Dao a camera, so that they can capture images of Con Dao’s aqua marines by themselves as well as share those on the internet for the society to admire and feel the value of the biodiversity. The project’s goal is to raise awareness and compassion for wildlife. From that we can take action to protect the value of local biodiversity.
From 60 students enrolled in the program, 6 excellent, suitable and well-rounded students have been chosen to participate in project PEEK after two elimination rounds. These students are: Lê Trần Anh Thư, Nguyễn Trần Ngọc Nhi, Trần Nhân Đạt, Nguyễn Đăng Khoa, Võ Hoàng Minh Thuận, Đặng Việt Trung Nhân, grades from 8 to 9, learning in Vo Thi Sau secondary school, Con Dao province. To participate in this project, they have been well trained by experts to acquire knowledge about the environment, biodiversity and essential skills which be used to capture moments of by their own way. Furthermore, they can use these photos for educational purposes and scientific research wherever in Con Dao, our country or the world.
Presenting the project at the launching ceremony, Mrs. Stephanie Jo Bowman (Director of Education of the Biodiversity Group) said: “Through this project, we wish to attract the people, businesses and Con Dao National Park together to preserve the amazing diversity- both on land and underwater. Since we’ve been here, we were extremely excited to capture images on some aqua marines that the science world has never recorded, or seen some species with our naked eyes, which locals see them every daily life whilst we’ve only seen them via photographs or science documents. Our hope is to train these students in Con Dao to become ‘mini’ scientists who will collect data and information on the biodiversity in Con Dao, or even discover new species for scientific purposes.”
During the days performing our project, after school, the 6 students have been trained by specialists of TBG and members of Con Dao National Park for swimming, diving, taking photos on land and under water, identifying different species at nighttime on field trips in the forests, etc. They also had the chance to see coral reefs, turtles laying their eggs and bringing the newly hatched turtles back to the ocean as well as take photos of animals during nighttime. Lê Trần Anh Thư (one of the six students) gladly shared: “I’ve been living in Con Dao for years, yet this is my first time seeing coral reefs, different species and see the beauty of the forest. Furthermore, I just want all of my friends and people in Con Dao to see these great things. I hope that the photos we took will accomplish that.”
Project PEEK is built and carried out by CHANGE and The Biodiversity Group, sponsored by The American Ambassador (in Ho Chi Minh City), the technical support from Con Dao National Park. The project also received enthusiastic supports from Vo Thi Sau Secondary School and some local enterprises which care about the biodiversity’s protection in Con Dao such as: Six Senses Resorts, Rainbow Diver and contribute to our project with different approaches like: providing vessels, supplies, employees and equipments throughout the project.