As with the Freeland team in Thailand, Phoenix Fund has been in touch to let us know that with the fire season also upon them, rangers are fire fighting in tiger and Amur leopard habitat. To develop a culture of fire prevention, Phoenix Fund has developed resources around the legend of Dym Dymych to educate local children. Read on to find out more about what’s happening in the Russian Far East…
Despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus, anti-poaching teams of protected areas carry on patrolling the assigned territories, because some local people, mostly hunters decided that the best place to get through current hard times is forest. City streets remain deserted because people stay at home, but some irresponsible and careless people got away for hunting. It means that rangers should work without taking a rest. Moreover, the fire season has started in Primorye. Presence of people in the forest during the fire season may result in large forest fires. Thus, rangers also have to patrol the area in order to prevent forest fires.
The Phoenix Fund is also involved in fire fighting by educating schoolchildren to prevent forest fires. In March, we published a teacher’s guide with lesson plans, games and scenarios of performances on forest fires topic. On March 22-24, we held an annual workshop for educators and outreach specialists from protected areas of the south of the Russian Far East. During the workshop, we presented the teacher’s guide and informed how to use it at classes. Moreover, the Phoenix Fund also gave the participants other materials, such as forest fire posters and bookmarks for children with rules of forest fire prevention. When developing the materials we came up with an idea to use a mascot – a little dragon called Dym Dymych (Smoke Smokey) -similar to Smokey Bear in the US to educate people about the importance to protect the forest from fires.
The workshop was a success and we were lucky to hold it just before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that a week, beginning on March 30, would be an extended holiday for workers, with the exception of key business like pharmacies, banks and supermarkets. On April 2, President Vladimir Putin prolonged until April 30, a non-working period across Russia to try and stem the spread of the coronavirus. It means that our educators will have to use online learning now. Staff members of the Phoenix Fund are under self-isolation, but continue working at home.
The Legend of Dym Dymych
The association of Dragon Dym Dymych with forest fire prevention can be explained with a legend believed to have taken place in Terneisky district, northern part of Primorsky Krai. A frozen Dragon’s egg was lying in the mouth of a silent volcano (Mountain Abrek) in Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve for a long time. One day a meteorite slammed into the mountain, heated up the egg; and a little baby dragon hatched out from the egg.
Nobody could teach the little dragon how to live because no other dragon lived nearby. While it was warm enough, the little dragon could find food in rich taiga and became acquainted with the secrets of nature. Then autumn came with cold rains and northern winds. There was less food around. The little dragon was very lonely. One evening he got into the hollow of an elm tree trying to find shelter from nasty weather. The dragon felt as cold as ice, and he began to warm the air in the hollow with his hot breath. Suddenly, the dust of rotten wood at the bottom of the hollow caught on fire. The little dragon hardly got out of the hollow and found himself under pouring rain and strong cold wind. The fire became intense in the dry hollow. The dragon was appalled, but he had the sense to take rainy water into his mouth and extinguish the fire. At dawn, the fire was finally put out.
After a win over the fire, the weak and emaciated dragon fell into a deep sleep. It was here where the little dragon was found by children taking a tour in Sikhote-Alin Nature Reserve. He was dirty, with badly burned scales. The kids decided to help the brave baby dragon. They washed the dragon, healed his injures and gave him a cup of hot tea. Since then, children and the dragon became friends. The kids often visited the dragon, helped him survive through the first winter and gave him a name Dym Dymych. The dragon grew quickly with a pair of huge wings growing from his back. Dym Dymych learned to fly and became a volunteer firefighter.