The annual “Let's protect leopards!” summer camp has been successfully held in the district of Lerik on 20-22 June 2018. Being part of the leopard conservation program, the camp was put together with the support of Lerik District Executive Power and through joint partnership by IDEA Campaign, Azerbaijani Youth Foundation, Ecological, Training and Experience Center of the Ministry of Education, and the representative office of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Azerbaijan. Around 60 children from the villages of Hamarmesha, Guneshli, Gosmalian, Chayrud, Vistan and Nuravud participated in a three-day camp that was set at Gosmalian village of Lerik.
The leopard camp is aimed to raise awareness among the school aged children about the Caucasian leopard occuring in the area, encourage behavioral changes that would reduce threats to wildlife and promote protection of the species. The camp program was split between learning activities and field trips. During the camp, participants were widely informed about the species lifestyle, their habitat and the role in nature.
On the following day of camp, tour trips to Zuvand sanctuary and the waterfall Guneshli were organized. During the excursion, campers engaged in a cleanup activity. Later, participants did practical training on how to identify animal traces and plant species.
Apart from learning, on the final day of camp, young people engaged in thematic games and competitions, and watched the documentary film “The World’s Most Wanted Leopard” created by renowned wildlife photographer and filmmaker Adrian Steirn.
At the final day of camp, participants were given participation certificates and memorial gifts.
Launched by Heydar Aliyev Foundation in 2010, the "Reintroduction of gazelles to their historical habitat areas in Caucasus" program is being successfully implement by IDEA Campaign, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and WWF Azerbaijan. During the past years more than 150 gazelle were reintroduced in their historical habitat areas in Azerbaijan (Shirvan National Park) and the Republic of Georgia, and were monitored since then. As important as protection efforts are, raising public awareness and public understanding of wildlife is one of the key features of successful conservation. Therefore, IDEA camps play crucial role in educating the school aged children about the environment and sustainability. It should also be noted that as a result of successful conservation works, there are now 7,000 jeyrans in Azerbaijan.
IDEA summer camps have been annually held since 2014 in over 10 regions of the country (Ismayilli, Salyan, Neftchala, Goranboy, Samukh, Gakh, Shaki, Masalli, Jalilabad, Yardimli, Lankaran, Astara, Goygol, Gabala and Lerik) and attended by over 500 schoolchildren.