Storytelling helps understand tiger-human conflicts

By Erlinda Kartika, member of IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication.

Story-telling helps school children understand tiger-human conflict in Indonesia

Storytelling and participatory video are powerful educational tools that are being used in new ways to help school children and adults in Indonesia understand tiger-human conflicts. Participants seem very excited to be involved in this innovative programme which has seen a number of useful results.

The problem of tiger-human conflict in Siguntur, West Sumatra, has emerged due to a number of factors. One of these is believed to be a lack of knowledge about tigers and their importance in the ecosystem.

Our environmental education project aims to rectify this situation. Conducted from January to September 2014 with support from the Rufford Foundation, the project was divided into two segments that focused on children and adults. For children, the environmental education was delivered through storytelling. For adults, it was delivered by a participatory audio-visual campaign.


In West Sumatra, children usually go to regular school in the morning and Islamic school in the afternoon to learn the Qurán – the religious text of Islam. In order to deliver environmental education programmes in Siguntur village, West Sumatra, we went to a junior high school and an Islamic school to carry out storytelling activities. We found that students were very enthusiastic to hear the story of tigers and their ecosystem. To help the students understand, we used the local language, Minang instead of Bahasa Indonesia, the national language.

After the storytelling, we invited students on a voluntary basis to participate in our workshop entitled ‘How to Become a Good Storyteller’ We also invited high school students to join the workshop. The goal was to train kids in storytelling techniques - to be a storyteller who can deliver environmental messages to other students.

Participatory video

Participatory videos are a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to be creative and tell stories. This process can be very empowering, enabling a group or community to take action to solve their own problems and to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and other groups within the community. As such, participatory videos can be highly effective to engage and mobilise marginalized people to implement their own sustainable development activities that are based on local needs.

The process of creating a participatory video began by talking to local people about the problem of human-tiger conflict in their area. After several conversations, we delivered a workshop on how to use a camera or camcorder.

After the workshop, the villagers were given an assignment to produce a video that focused on the perceptions and traditional beliefs of people as it relates to the tiger-human conflict. This project is still ongoing. However, all videos made by villagers will be shown in the village together with a cultural show exhibition.

Erlinda Kartika is the founder Wild Eye, an NGO in Indonesia that specialises in community engagement for conservation. She has Masters degree in Forest and Nature Conservation from Wageningen University, The Netherlands.

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