Students at 40 secondary schools in Ho Chi Minh City have been learning about wildlife preservation through extracurricular classes offered in temporary tents set up on their campuses.

The two-day classes began last year and end this month in districts 1, 3, Binh Thanh and Phu Nhuan.

In the tents, students watched films about wildlife, heard sounds produced by rare animals, played games, and took part in a touching exhibition of animal parts that had been saved by rangers.

"The purpose of the exhibition tent is to equip students with knowledge about wildlife conservation," said Do Thi Thanh Huyen, conservation education manager at the HCM City-based Wildlife at Risk (WAR) organisation.

"The most important message from the tent is that consumers of wild animal products are the main cause of the extinction of many species," she said, adding that the work will help kids react properly to trafficking of wild animals and animals.

WAR initiated the idea and worked with the city's Education and Training Department and the Department of Forest Rangers.

The districts where the tents were set up contain the largest number of consumers of wild animal products in the city, according to a WAR survey.

In Vietnam , in addition to the need for fur and leather of animals for products, animals are also used for alcoholic drinks. Foetuses or the bodies of some wild animal species are soaked to make an alcoholic beverage believed to be good for health.

In addition, the blood or testicles of wild animals mixed with alcoholic beverages are used as sexual tonics. Wild animal meat is also consumed during parties as well.

WAR believes that children can pass on the message about wildlife conservation to their parents, as they will feel as if they lost face.

For example, children's awareness about traffic regulations have changed their parents' habit of ignoring red lights when traffic police are absent.

Many of the children attending the classes said they have no idea that eating wild animal meat is harmful to the preservation of the species.

Some of them promised to call the WAR hotline about wild animal trafficking.

The hotline was set up by WAR in collaboration with the Department of Forest Rangers in an aim to fine traffickers and seize animals to return them to nature.

"Don't buy souvenir items made from wild animals," an eighth-grade student at Le Loi Secondary School in District 3 wrote after attending the class. "They're beautiful, but consuming them is wrong."

Another student wrote that she wants wild animals to be safe, and that high-income individual who could afford expensive wild-animal meat and alcoholic drinks made with wild animal part should stop buying those products.

Anh Thu, a ninth-grade student at Truong Cong Dinh Secondary School in Binh Thanh District, said the classes helped her understand the importance of wild animals and nature reserves around the country.

Truong Thi Thanh Nguyen, one of WAR's volunteers, said children, who love nature, have benefited from the programme.

"We did our best to tell stories about wild animals to the kids. We're now happy with what we shared," she said.

Huyen of WAR said she was preparing a new programme with the same format to use at other schools in HCM City for the next academic year.-VNA