And there is much to celebrate! Natutama, founded with WDC help in 2005, is ten years old. The Natutama team have worked successfully together with local communities to protect wildlife and the surrounding environment of Puerto Narino in the heart of the Colombian Amazon. Together they have achieved some incredible things; not least saving river dolphins, manatees, giant Amazon fish, herons, turtles, sloths and ceiba trees! The Natutama education and wildlife guardian programmes are covering more children and more ground than ever. This reflects the growing commitment of the indigenous educators and guides that make up this dedicated and committed team supported by WDC.
The Natutama education programme now touches every single family in Puerto Narino and every age group (pre-school, primary and secondary), as well as people in more than 20 other communities including those in nearby Brazil and Peru. Ticuna and Yagua elders from these Amazon Indian communities take part and share their knowledge with the Natutama educators and teach children indigenous songs, dances and stories; encouraging and motivating them to take care of wildlife and natural resources in their Amazon environment.
The successful Natutama ‘Model’ combines community education and wildlife monitoring and guardianship as a way of encouraging conservation; and this is now becoming well-established in conservation circles throughout Colombia. Together WDC and Natutama are spreading the word about the Natutama Model and the importance of community participation in conservation efforts to other neighbouring South American countries and communities sharing the flooded forest with river dolphins.