A delegation of four Buddhist monks and two environmental educators from Mongolia visited the US from April 7 – 22 on a unique exchange to learn more about current conservation efforts. The Exchange was organized by The Tributary Fund, with thanks to grants from the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Charles Engelhard Foundation. The delegates’ two-week itinerary included an intense week in the Yellowstone ecosystem and then a week based at the Cincinnati Zoo for behind-the-scenes inquiry-based training in animal management and outreach, with particular attention to Mongolian species such as pallas cats and snow leopards. The group will return to Mongolia with newly developed curricula, fresh teaching methods and a greater understanding of conservation efforts in both their own backyard and globally. The US participants are gaining a better understanding and appreciation for spirituality and its relationship to conservation. In 2008, TTF launched a “Faith and the Environment Initiative,” a program that works to inspire religious leaders from all faiths to make conservation a priority within their houses of workshop, their communities and their world. These efforts are taking root with Buddhist monks, rural clergy in Montana and in 2009, to Bhutanese monks and Southern Sudanese ministers. All the lamas have nick names which I'll explain in later photos.
Amaraa took copious notes everywhere we went. For obvious reasons, we call him Harry Potter. He is the director of the new environmental program at the Gandan Monastery in Ulaan Bataar (the headquarters for Buddhism in Mongolia).