Karen’s Sabbatical in Asia 2019 – Part 2

Sabbatical 2019 – Southern Thailand – My 2nd Month

On the second month of my sabbatical, I chose a Marine conservation project in Thailand.

So, after a month, I packed my bags and said my sad farewells, to all my pupils in Laos and headed for Southern Thailand. Although teaching English was also carried out on this new project, I had opted for the conservation side of their work. The village had suffered a devastating tsunami several years ago and when the emergency aid had moved out, other projects were set up to assist the community to rebuild their lives; most of the villagers had lost someone close to them in the tsunami. I did however carry out some teaching, which took the form of an after-school conservation club, where we taught the English to be able to deliver topics, such as butterfly and bird surveying and the value of bio indicator species for their environment.

The core focus, each week was on the Turtle conservation project, with Green turtles; that are listed as an endangered species. As most people are aware in the wild only 1 in 1,000 turtles that hatch out, make it to the sea. This project monitored the nesting sites on a specific island and once hatched, they were transferred to a Marine facility that allowed the turtles to be monitored for their health and morphology. We also maintained good husbandry conditions and treated any sick or infected turtles. Once these turtles got to a larger size at around 6 months, there were organised releases, into the sea; watching such a release was awesome and felt very full filling.

Another exciting part of my work here, was surveying coral reefs, as they too had become devastated in the tsunami, so we were data collecting, for indicators of improved health and general state of the coral in these designated areas. We did see bleaching and crumbling coral, but thankfully areas of living coral were visible and the sea life in those parts was beautiful.

This project was jam backed with bio surveys and some of the other tasks, I carried out were, butterfly surveys, early morning bird surveys and micro plastic surveys on the beach. The icing on the cake on one of the protected islands was the news, that Pangolin had been spotted. Information was guarded as they are the most trafficked animal in the world and protection from poaching was paramount. We checked the footage on the wildlife cameras and reset them regularly so the Pangolin could be monitored. The range of habitats, we trekked throughout my stay, in order to monitor all the wildlife mentioned, ranged from, secondary forests, meadow land, beaches, woodland and Savannah.

The overall aim of all the projects, was to work with local partners within the village, so, when the time came that our organisation’s support is no longer needed, these local partners/people will be able to deliver any future assistance themselves. Getting involved with the community was a wonderful part of the project and each week villagers would request help with the village needs. Some of the tasks we carried out during my stay were, painting the school canteen, mangrove planting, beach and village litter cleans; all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an amazing project and as well as offering my labour and newly learned survey and teaching skills, I also learnt so, so much myself. I was sad to leave this project, but another project was waiting for me in Northern Thailand, in a village in the hills of Chiang Mia province. I will let you know how it went on my next blog.