RIMBA The Card Game was developed to raise environmental literacy and empathy around the awareness of deforestation and biodiversity in Malaysia. As an Important Biodiversity Area, the rapid rate of forest loss is putting pressure on ecosystems and biodiversity. Conditions are made worse by poaching for the wildlife trade and traditional medicine. Reflecting back on my childhood and my experience camping, visiting nature reserves I could help to feel hopeless as I thought of how unfortunate it would be for young Malaysians to lose the opportunity to know our biodiverse heritage and experience local rainforest landscape. As we did some research we realized that most conservation NGOs focused on a small selection of often similar animals leaving out the larger picture of forest fragmentation, food chain disruption and ecosystem services provided by the various animals.
Most of the information was about how cute, majestic, strong or vulnerable the animal was – we wanted to change that. This gap was mostly due to the lack of programming of this information to young people, our challenge was set. To mainstream biodiversity education, we needed to be fun, challenging and playable across a wide age range while having credible information and images.
Once we published RIMBA we played it across the country over 10 months, sold it in many stores and engaged heavily in social media. Since day 1 our vision is to get a minimum of 1 deck of RIMBA The Card Game in every public school across Malaysia by the end of 2021. To do this we are working towards engaging teachers and schools to participate in our Biodiversity Corner program. We are encouraging schools to make a bookshelf available to hold all their books on forest, animals, ecosystem and biodiversity to complement the learning brought by RIMBA into the classroom. At present we have piloted the Biodiversity Corner with SKJ (T) Bayan Lepas; a session with teachers helped them to identify and apply the RIMBA learning opportunities with students using STEM pedagogy. 550 students from this school attended gameplay session in turns as a means to familiarize them with the different games that can be played with the same deck of cards. Working with smaller groups of students allowed us to teach them how to be the game master, shuffle the deck and set up the various modes.
RIMBA team with the principal of SKJ (T) Bayan Lepas.
This type of engagements encourages young students to role-play, take turns and pushes them out of the comfort zone to participate by learning new things in this case name of animals in Bahasa Malaysia and English. we have observed quitter students become more assertive and speak up when playing as they need these traits to have a winning chance while noisier ones tend to quiet down to listen to what is happening. These dynamics encourages social learning among students, enrich their knowledge on biodiversity, build vocabulary and language. We have seen young people from kindergarten have similar experiences too. They are very excited when they learn the name of all the animals and successfully match the animals.
With primary school students, we are always asking them questions that are available on the information cards and some that are not for example “Is the Pangolin is a reptile or a mammal?”. This type of questions encourage them to explore more information related to the game that will help them play the game Who Am I?
We hope RIMBA will inspire young people to explore careers in the science field, participate in conservation efforts in their home town, feel proud of our rich natural heritage and inspire others.