Through the Save The Snakes Support Grant Program, Save The Snakes supported Rosa Roldán and her team in 2021 to educate school children and adults in Guatemala to increase their knowledge of snakebite safety, snake ecology and snakes importance in the ecosystem.

Project Title:

Sneaking our way into human-snake coexistence in resilient communities in Guatemala

Project Summary:

One of the first steps in wildlife conservation is knowledge. Children are a key target audience since awareness and sensitization promote environmental caring, including for animals. People usually consider all snakes as venomous, eliminating any specimen they come across; so, education is a point factor in this problem. This project will provide information on what a snake is, which ones live in the community and their ecological importance. In this way, children are expected to pass on what they have learned to their relatives and minimize the stigma towards snakes.

Moreover, snakes of the Viperidae family live in the area that are venomous and of medical importance for Guatemala including the species Bothrops asper, a snake involved in approximately 35% of accidents. For the Escuintla department it has been reported that 50% of people affected by snakebites were children and youth. Therefore, it is important to explain what to do and what not to do in the case of a snake bite. This project will also provide a new space in their educational program, since they have not been going to school everyday because of the pandemic. They do attend the center 2-3 times a week, for them it is a place where they can learn, play, socialize and even have a mental rest from daily life worries. Thus, this project will be a new and fun learning experience where they will also develop and express their skills (through art, oral speaking, etc.) to communicate what they have learned.

Aims and Objectives:

The project will be held in TIKVA Center, this facility was founded as a support center after the catastrophe of Fuego volcano on June 3, 2018. Several communities were relocated from their homeland into the center of Escuintla department. This represented a change in their livelihood, social interactions, economic income and even adaptation to a different climate (since they lived in temperate region and moved into a tropical zone). Kids have also undergone this transition and although it has not been easy for them they keep a positive attitude and a smile on their faces. We have previously had some environmental workshops at the Center and we know the needs, the strengths and knowledge of the communities but especially, the ones held by the children and youth.

Therefore, we will conduct a 5 sessions workshop focused on the snakes living in the area, by documenting the local perspective of the children (4th to 6th grade), and will integrate both traditional and western scientific knowledge regarding snakes. First for the children, who will not only learn snake-related topics, but will also be provided with a safe and enjoyable environment in which they can have fun and share what they learned with the rest of the community. Especially in this time of pandemic, since confinement has affected children in aspects such as the loss of the ability to concentrate and the feeling of loneliness. Then, to the adults who are part of the community as they will learn facts about snakes, at the same time that they will see their children learn, teach and develop in a healthy environment.

Also TIKVA Center who has been working with the families of these communities since the Fuego Volcano catastrophe, by providing psychological follow up, educational monitoring and even generating livelihoods for families (especially for women). And last but not least, the snakes (and biodiversity in general) that inhabits the area (previous to the settlement of the communities the area was used for cattle and small forest patches), since correct human-snake coexistence will be promoted and people will know the importance of these animals in their surroundings.

Goal:

Our main goal is to empower children, for them to become positive actors and even teachers in their families and communities. Also by giving a safe and happy environment to promote a positive perspective regarding reptiles and biodiversity conservation. As well as enrich the knowledge of all community members (kids and adults) regarding snakes, their ecology and importance in the ecosystem and also, the importance of diminishing the human-snake conflict to enhance conservation efforts.

Support Snake Conservation

Rosa’s project is a recipient of the 2021 Save The Snakes Support Grant Program. Save The Snakes Support Grants are made possible because of the generosity of compassionate people and organizations who are inspired and dedicated to protect threatened snake populations and mitigate human-snake conflict around the world. Please donate today to help us continue to fund projects like Rosa’s snake conservation project in Guatemala. Thank you for your support.