The sound of laughter and discussion fills the community hall in Merak village. Five groups of Brokpa men and women are sitting in circles with a bunch of sticks arranged in the formation of a fish. They have been given the task of turning the fish formation upside down using only three sticks. It is an exercise in problem solving as a team. A loud shout goes up as one team works it out. Earlier, blindfolded herders formed a circle outside whilst holding a rope which they had to shape into a square without looking. They had to learn to trust one another intuitively. The training led by Dr Karma Tenzing from Charles Sturt University, covered group formation, group dynamics, managing conflict, building trust and drafting group constitution and by-laws.
A total of 90 herders were trained in two groups over two weeks in November. Building the group capacity and leadership of Brokpa herders will assist implementation of sustainable rangeland management and conservation of red pandas in their tsamdros (high altitude pastures).