This week 25 conservation educators from PASA member sanctuaries across Africa came together in Yaounde, Cameroon to develop programs that will help their local communities learn about the value of protecting native forests and wildlife, and stop the killing of apes, moneys and other wild animals. PASA provides this advanced training free of charge to its member sanctuaries annually to promote conservation education in local communities, empower local educators with professional skills, and enable all our member sanctuaries to share and benefit from each others’ experiences. It’s been very exciting to hear about the innovative solutions that are being developed with local communities – one sanctuary works with a group of local single mothers who collect and clean plastic trash and make it into purses to sell. They are working through village chiefs to build energy efficient cookstoves out of local materials that reduce firewood consumption by 2/3rds. 40 villagers now have these stoves, which also help local women improve the air quality and safety of their homes by venting the smoke outside the building. Member sanctuaries are reaching thousands of school children in 12 countries to build appreciation and care for local wildlife…And it’s working! One PASA sanctuary recently had a former bushmeat hunter arrive at their center to turn in his gun to them, because he said he now realizes it is a mistake to kill bonobos and other endangered animals. Another sanctuary educator was stopped by a mother in the grocery store who told her how much she appreciated their work to teach her children to care for local wildlife. These are just a few examples of how PASA sanctuaries and PASA conservation education and community collaboration training are really making a difference. In fact, by the end of the week-long workshop, the translator we hired shared with us that he himself had been a bushmeat hunter and had grown up setting snares in the forest, but after hearing the discussions at our workshop, he now realizes wildlife is worth protecting and he is inspired to change careers to become a conservation educator!
Empowering 22 African Communities to Protect Primates
Project Report, November 2012
Thanks to your support, PASA is making a difference for Africa’s primates and the human communities that share their habitat.
There are currently 22 PASA member sanctuaries in 12 countries stretching from Gambia in the west to Kenya in the east. A survey of PASA sanctuaries showed their conservation education and messaging reaches more than 400,000 people each year on-site, as well as many thousands in local communities. PASA sanctuaries each employ 26 people on average and add a cumulative value of more than $3 million to local community economies every year!
Over the past two years, PASA collaborated with the Disney Education and Science Team to develop a grassroots public awareness campaign called Communities for Primate Conservation. Pre/post evaluations demonstrated that the campaign created positive changes in knowledge and attitudes about primates. It also served as the starting point for 28 community projects to promote conservation, including jewelry making from recycled paper, community farming, and conservation-themed community performances (Birungi, 2012; Bettinger et al., 2012; Fawoh, 2012; Lehnhardt et al., 2010).
Building on this success, we are now directing our conservation education efforts toward human-wildlife conflict, an issue that is particularly prevalent in many African countries. Human-wildlife conflict refers to direct conflict between the goals of people and animals (such as when a chimpanzee raids a crop or attacks a human), but also involves conflict between humans about wildlife and conservation. This commonly occurs when communities feel that wildlife organizations care more about wildlife than people and can result in the loss of community trust and support for conservation initiatives. Click here to see news from CSWCT (Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Uganda) about human-wildlife conflict in their area.
As the ambassadors for their sanctuaries, as well as respected leaders and wildlife authorities of their communities, PASA educators are frequently asked to address human-wildlife concerns. PASA will collaborate with human-wildlife conflict experts and organizations to bring PASA sanctuary staff training on specific wildlife conflict mitigation strategies, allowing educators to transform conflicts into sustainable solutions for both humans and non-human primates. Our first step will be to launch the Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution Program at the February 25 - March 1, 2013 PASA Educators Workshop in Yaounde, Cameroon. This first phase of the program will empower the local educators and conservation leaders to work directly with their communities in resolving specific cases of conflict with nonhuman primates.
The second phase includes a needs assessment of human-wildlife conflicts in local communities, community meetings and surveys, data analysis, and the development of specific community Conflict Intervention Plans. Phase 3 will include a second, intensive training for PASA sanctuary educators preparing them to deploy Conflict Intervention Plans (CIPs) in their communities. This will be followed by implementation of the CIPs, and ongoing evaluation and adaptive management of the CIP projects. By developing and implementing a Human-Wildlife Conflict Program, PASA can better facilitate a long-term strategy to foster peaceful coexistence between humans and African apes and monkeys.
Thanks to support from you and our partners, we have secured funding for the February education workshop. Please help us reach our goal of raising $50,000 to fund new community projects that protect forests, primates and people.
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