In 2016, community awareness activities were focused particularly on seminars for teachers and primary school classes in the district of Pota and the town of Riung, in northern Flores. Seminars were held by staff of the NGO Komodo Survival Program (KSP), while children were addressed by both KSP staff and primary school teachers. The general aim was to give pupils a general background knowledge on the terrestrial biodiversity, and assess whether education activities can be of an importance on their perception and attitude toward biodiversity conservation. We held a first session on environmental education and awareness in the village of Pota and a second session in the town of Riung, just off the southern boudary of the Tujuh belas pulau nature reserve. The two sessions were attended by five teachers, who also collaborated during classes, and a total of 50-75 childrens from 4th to 6th grade classes in 3 schools from Pota (MIS Pota, MIS Tembalajar and SDI Baras) and 3 schools from Riung (SDN Nanga Mese, SDI Damu and SDK Bekek). We had a total of 220 children in Pota and 137 children in Riung. Participation of religious leader, either catholic or muslim, were encouraged for the relatively strong social influence these persons have on the local community.
We conducted a test to assess perception of children toward Komodo dragons and their natural habitat. We asked kids to fill in a 13-question form with information about the place they lived in, what did they like and dislike and what facilities of their town and/or school should have been improved. These questions were not necessarily correlated to our work, but were important to build an environment of mutual trust. We then asked 15 questions about Komodo dragons, their perceptions on the species, and ability to recognize it. We presented a questionnaire where kids had to describe whether they did encounter Komodo dragons and/or other wildlife close to their homes, the distance they would have liked to keep with respect to wild animals (Comfortable Interpersonal Distance), and their willingness to allow Komodo dragons and other wildlife to live close to their premises (Attitudes toward Animals).
We then showed different pictures of Komodo dragons (e.g. hatchlings, Komodo dragon hunting deer, Komodo dragon and tourists) and asked kids to choose one of the six scale Ekman basic emotions (e.g. disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise, anger). Following the test, our project manager gave a short presentation on the importance of protecting wildlife and natural habitats, and we showed kids a cartoon video we made about Komodo dragons. This is basically a story for kids about Komodo dragons and the importance of not killing deer so that Komodo dragons may live in the forest feeding upon deer and not having to steal chickens and goats from the villages to survive. We also made a booklet about this story which we gave as a present to the children. We then showed a documentary film on the life history of Komodo dragons (translated in Indonesian). We asked children to fill in a post-test form and answer a series of questions similar to the ones presented before the cartoon and documentary film.