Yaxcabá: Puppet theatre as an environmental strategy in remote communities

Published: 08 July 2020
Last edited: 22 September 2020
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Young people in the rural areas of El Triunfo do not have real opportunities for development, and most of them migrate or start a family at an early age. These communities, as they are located within a biosphere reserve, are visited by environmental education groups, generally from the city of Tuxtla, with high transportation and logistics costs. The YAXCABÁ Group is an alternative to the two challenges mentioned; on the one hand, it is a local group of young people who, through puppet theatre, produce environmental education works and bring conservation stories to children and adults in the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in an efficient and effective way; and on the other hand, they provide a development alternative for creative young people in the region.


Yaxcabá is a clear example of how a group of young people have succeeded in transforming themselves, overcoming obstacles, and through theatre and entertainment, mobilizing people and changing behaviour to preserve one of the most biodiverse regions on earth.


North America
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Outreach & communications
Traditional knowledge
Other theme
entrepreneuriat des jeunes
éducation environnementale
Lack of access to long-term funding
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with associations


Montecristo de Guerrero, Chiapas
Show on Protected Planet


  1. Young people are among the most vulnerable populations in rural communities in protected areas, because they have no land and have no opportunities for development.  Most of them migrate to cities or to the U.S.A, risking their lives in the process. Girls who stay behind get pregnant at a very young age (13 or 14) and this accelerates the cycle of poverty. There is a lot of talent in young people and a great desire to contribute to the welfare of their community and the natural protected area where they live, but they do not have the skills or opportunities to do so.
  2. Environmental education in the communities within a natural protected area is one of the primary activities to ensure the conservation of the site. However, in the case of El Triunfo, this activity involves a very high cost because it is not easy to access the 34 communities that live in the reserve, especially if those who carry out activities come from the state capital.


  • 5 young self-employed members of Yaxcabá.
  • More than 2,000 children who have received a conservation message.
  • More than 100 children with access to a library.

How do the building blocks interact?

The leadership opportunities and training allow young people to develop projects that in turn can be offered to different organizations who pay for that service. These new resources generated then help grow the theater, both in skills and infrastructure, allowing the youth to be able to reach more communities.



  • 5 young self-employed members of Yaxcabá.
  • More than 2,000 children who have received a conservation message.
  • Construction of a library in the neighbourhood of Puerto Rico.




One way or another, all of us can make a contribution. For Sandra Anahí Perez, this is key. She is a young person who despite her impoverished state and the few opportunities she had, has fortunately managed to live within the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, the most enchanting forest in the world. This love for the location in which she lives is shown and communicated by here every day.


She belongs to the Yaxcabá group, who through a puppet theatre relays a message of love of nature. People are made to reflect through the laughter and stories of their theatrical works. After just three years, their performances have reached over 2,000 children in the most remote communities of the Sierra de Chiapas.


Sandra and her Yaxcabá group are a clear example of love for nature and of #NatureForAll, a global movement whose mission is to inspire love for nature.

Contributed by

#NatureForAll IUCN #NatureForAll

Other contributors

Sandra Anahí Perez