I was delighted to be involved in delivery of a conservation education short course and DESMAN at the wonderful Durrell Academy based at Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey last weekend.
With participants from India, Brazil, Mauritius, Madagascar, Tanzania, Nigeria, Congo Republic, Seychelles, St. Lucia, and the UK, the course benefited enormously from the wealth of experiences and backgrounds each person brought with them and it made my job of facilitating learning and sharing of educational practice very enjoyable.
Utilising a mix of lecture with discussion, and diversity of activities from role play to storytelling, we covered a wealth of techniques and tips for educational engagement in a diversity of contexts and for a variety of audiences from children to adults.
The Durrell Academy and the Durrell Wildlife Hostel at Les Noyers, right next to the zoo, is a great facility and one that is world-leading, showing what a good zoo can do to make a real and lasting commitment to the conservation of species and habitats on a global scale. I was especially pleased to be ‘teaching’ here as I attended the opening of this centre back in 1984 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the zoo, and it’s so good to see how Gerald Durrell’s vision has come to life.
With the 12 week DESMAN – Durrell Endangered Species Management Graduate Certificate – the participants achieve academic recognition, validated by the University of Kent. The course has a high reputation and it is brilliant that scholarships are available.
The wonderful participants are now part of the growing Durrell’s Army of conservationists – most of whom work in the field across the world.
I enjoyed returning on ‘pilgrimage’ again to the zoo, now known as Durrell Wildlife Park and seeing species such as Livingstone’s fruit bat, giant jumping rat, aye aye, Round Island skink, orang utan, and gorilla. It was great to see the wonderful ‘Gerald Durrell Story’ exhibition too which opened last year. I was also lucky to see the red-billed chough not only in the zoo but at the release site on the Jersey coast – part of a cooperative project to restore Jersey’s natural habitat. Conservation at home as well as globally.