Education for the conservation of great apes and other wildlife in northern CongoЧthe importance of nature clubs.код для вставкиСкачать
American Journal of Primatology 72:454–461 (2010) COMMENTARY Education for the Conservation of Great Apes and Other Wildlife in Northern Congo—the Importance of Nature Clubs THOMAS BREUER AND FRANCK BARREL MAVINGA Mbeli Bai Study/Nouabale´-Ndoki Project, Wildlife Conservation Society, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo Key words: bushmeat; conservation education; gorilla; long-term studies; wildlife club INTRODUCTION Challenges of Environmental Education in Rural Communities in Northern Congo Conservation education can play a vital role in increasing knowledge and changing attitudes towards the value of wildlife [Jacobsen et al., 2006]. When combined with other activities, such as law enforcement, access to alternative protein resources, and an increase in the standard of living conditions it can be an important long-term tool that reinforces behavioral changes needed to effectively protect great apes and other wildlife in Central Africa [Tutin et al., 2005]. Nature or wildlife clubs often act as an initial approach for providing environmental education [Dolins et al., this issue; McDuff & Jacobson, 2000]. Increasing the knowledge of children is a prerequisite to reduce the likelihood that the current generation will consume or trade great ape bushmeat in the future, because adult attitudes and behaviors are largely based on childhood experiences [e.g. Jacobsen et al., 2006; Kidd & Kidd, 1989; McDuff & Jacobson, 2000]. It has been shown that higher education and knowledge have a positive influence on attitudes of wildlife and conservation issues in northern Congo [Riddel, 2005]. But there is a substantial lack of knowledge of existing wildlife laws and environmental problems such as nonsustainable bushmeat consumption [e.g. Noss, 1997; Poulsen et al., 2009; Riddel, 2005]. Environmental education is not a priority in the school curriculum and teachers often lack basic knowledge of ecology and evolution, as well as relevant teaching materials. Educational approaches, such as learning by doing, are relatively new to the Congolese education curriculum. Instead learning-by-rote system (learning by memorizing and repetition) is common in Congo’s schools. With a few exceptions, schools fail to offer students basic educational skills such as writing and math, which makes it challenging to introduce concepts of sustainability and conservation. Classes r 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc. most often have too many students per teacher to make education effective. Teachers in public schools are often absent from the school because they have to search for additional income or to provide basic subsistence needs. Many children (particularly Ba-Aka pygmies) do not even attend school or spend prolonged periods in the forest [Riddell & Daley, in preparation]. There exists a high drop out rate due to the lack of regular funding for school fees and material. In Congo, young children regularly fish and teenagers often hunt bushmeat to be able to pay for basic school materials or fees to cover the costs of private schools where they can receive a higherquality education [Riddell & Daley, in preparation]. Girls often leave school at a very young age to attend to responsibilities in their household [see also Kasenene & Ross, 2008]. Bushmeat Crisis in Northern Congo Recent studies indicate that bushmeat consumption and commercialization in northern Congo might be dramatically increasing [Poulsen et al., 2009]. The main threats responsible for the decline of wildlife in northern Congo are the result of illegal poaching and nonsustainable hunting activities in and around Contract grant sponsors: Brevard Zoo; Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund; Sea World & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund; Toronto Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society; Woodland Park Zoo; Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund; National Geographic Society; United States Fish and Wildlife Service; Cleveland Metropark Zoo; Houston Zoo; Jacksonville Zoo; Knoxville Zoo; Little Rock Zoo; Santa Barbara Zoo. Correspondence to: Thomas Breuer, Mbeli Bai Study/NouabaléNdoki Project, Wildlife Conservation Society, B.P. 14537, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. E-mail: email@example.com Received 25 April 2009; revised 24 October 2009; revision accepted 24 October 2009 DOI 10.1002/ajp.20774 Published online 23 November 2009 in Wiley InterScience (www. interscience.wiley.com). Great Ape Conservation Education / 455 protected areas for the bushmeat trade. Several indirect threats also cause wildlife conservation problems in northern Congo. Notably, these include the lack of alternative protein resources, commercialization of bushmeat and increased bushmeat consumption (to unsustainable levels) due to the expansion of mechanized logging which provides greater access to and transport from remote forests and increased immigration to major logging towns poverty and lack of employment unrelated to the bushmeat trade or logging, and the general lack of knowledge about existing wildlife laws and environmental problems [Bennett, 2008; Elkan et al., 2006; Poulsen et al., 2007, 2009; Riddell & Daley, in preparation; Wilkie et al., 2000]. Although antipoaching patrols and control of bushmeat markets and traffic help to control the commercialization of bushmeat in logging concessions, it is essential to work with local communities to change their attitudes toward the intrinsic value of wildlife in general and the importance of conserving the great apes in particular. To improve environmental education in schools the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has initiated a wildlife Club in several villages around the Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP). Here, we report on the experiences and challenges of this long-term conservation education program that may provide useful insights for similar projects. Conservation Activities in Northern Congo NNNP was created in 1993 by WCS and the Ministry of Forest Economy (MEF). It is part of the Sangha Trinational Complex which represents an important stronghold for western gorillas, central African chimpanzees and other endangered forest mammals, including forest elephants and bongos [Tutin et al., 2005]. The Nouabalé-Ndoki Project aims to work with the local communities living in the villages of Bomassa and Makao-Linganga through educational programs, infrastructure development, preferential employment, alternative livelihood activities, and a village development fund linked to tourism revenue. The Mbeli Bai Study as part of the Nouabalé-Ndoki Project is a conservation research and capacity building project at a natural forest clearing and has been ongoing since 1995 [e.g. Breuer et al., 2009; Parnell, 2002]. WCS, MEF, and a logging company (Congolese Industirelle du Bois (CIB)) also have created a project to mitigate the effects of logging and bushmeat hunting in the buffer zone of NNNP (e.g. Kabo, Pokola, and Loundoungou forest management units (FMUs)) (see Fig. 1) that is based on sustainable land-use planning, anti-poaching patrols, and alternative livelihood activities [Elkan et al., 2006; Poulsen et al., 2007, 2009]. Appropriate land-use planning for hunting and the development of alternative activities to bushmeat Fig. 1. Location of the villages around Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park in northern Congo, where Mbeli Bai Study researchers have been conducting environmental education through its Club Ebobo (Credit of map: Patrick Boundja/WCS-Congo). Am. J. Primatol. 456 / Breuer and Mavinga extraction are currently lacking in the logging concessions east of the NNNP (Ipendja, Lopola, and Mokabi FMUs) (Fig. 1). Club Ebobo: Environmental Education in Schools Around NNNP Audience and objectives of Club Ebobo: In 1998 gorilla researchers of the Mbeli Bai Study in coordination with the park authorities and other WCS staff have started ‘‘Club Ebobo’’ (Ebobo is the local name for gorilla) to teach local children about gorilla biology and conservation. Club Ebobo first started in the primary school in Bomassa/Boncoin (see Fig. 1), the village nearest the park’s headquarters that was built and is maintained by WCS. Since then we have expanded our activities by promoting relevant conservation topics to other schools in the vicinity of NNNP (see Table I). In both Bomassa/Bon Coin and Makao, we have an official agreement between the Nouabalé-Ndoki Project and the villages that includes Club Ebobo. In Thanry-Congo, we approached the school directors for their interest in participation. Teachers in this private school are paid by the logging company. Other towns and villages in the CIB logging concessions (e.g. Kabo, Ndoki 2, Loundoungou) are visited by education staff of the buffer zone project [e.g. Elkan et al., 2006; Poulsen et al., 2007]. The aims of Club Ebobo are to (a) increase knowledge of environmental issues in order to promote awareness and concerns for nature conservation, (b) inform children about the fauna and flora of the region so that they learn about the importance of the forest, its products, and its wildlife. We hope this will encourage students to take pride in the biodiversity that exists in their region, (c) we inform children and encourage their respect for the existing Congolese wildlife laws to reduce illegal activities, and (d) we introduce important conservation concepts (e.g. sustainable use, pollution avoidance) to promote active participation in nature conservation. Activities of Club Ebobo: Sessions are typically conducted once or twice per month during the school year (from October to June) by Congolese research assistants of the Mbeli Bai Study together with teachers from the local schools. Before each session we distribute to the teachers session details, worksheets and informative material, including animal fact sheets. Sessions are typically held in the local language Lingala and in French and last 2–3 hr. Generally, all children that frequent the school participate in Club Ebobo. We always split the school children into different age groups. Sessions are conducted in a fun and dynamic atmosphere and generally take place in the class room. However, we occassionally include outdoor activities to make Club Ebobo more attractive to the students. We follow rote learning techniques and do more basic activities with the younger children (songs, role plays with animal puppets, arts, and crafts, or ‘spot-the-difference’ pictures, card games) (Fig. 2). Older children are encouraged to think more about conservation-oriented issues with the help of an environmental education activity book which is designed to encourage creativity among students (see Table II). We frequently incorporate songs and other activities and show wildlife videos and photographs during all sessions together with stories of real-life experiences from the Mbeli Bai Study research staff. We use animal comics as an educational tool and recorded a music CD with conservation songs. Challenges With Evaluating Successes of Club Ebobo Since 1998 the number of different children reached has increased from approximately 100 (one TABLE I. Demographic Detail of Towns and Schools Where Club Ebobo is Active Town Approximate Initiation population date of Club size Ebobo Type of school Bomassa/Bon Coin 517a 1998 Public primary school Makao-Linganga 670b 2005 Public primary school 2700c 2005 Private primary school Thanry-Congo/Sombo 2008 2008 a Ekoutouba Bobomela unpublished report 2009. Mavah unpublished report 2005. Cited in Riddell and Daley, in preparation. b c Am. J. Primatol. Private college Private primary school Number Number of sessions Age of children per year classes involved 11 Ethnic groups 6–9 74 Bantu and Aka (Bangombe pygmies) 10–15 6–9 21 123 10–17 5–7 40 185 Bantu 8–9 10–13 10–24 6–20 160 61 99 53 Bantu Bantu Bantu Aka (Mbenjele pygmies) Bantu and Aka (Mbenjele pygmies) Great Ape Conservation Education / 457 Fig. 2. Photos showing different activities employed during Club Ebobo sessions such as singing and arts and craft. school) to more than 800 in 2009 (five schools) (see Table I). Since 2005 we have maintained an almost monthly presence in all three towns. Participation is very regular but drops at the end of the school year. We provided basic school materials and t-shirts to pupils and teachers, which increased their pride in being part of the project. This also served to reduce the amount of time children spent fishing and hunting to obtain money needed to purchase these items. We have introduced several new teaching styles that expand the rote learning system and encourage the children to see animals and the ecosystem as a complex and interesting web of interactions, rather than just a natural resource to be exploited. Additionally, the parents saw this as a great distraction for their children, and so were keen to continue sending their children to participate. To see whether we have increased environmental awareness and knowledge we conducted various evaluations (here we present results from two questions) [see also Kuhar et al., this issue]. Given our staff constrains (one–two educators) we have distributed written questionnaires in all three villages. Most of the children in public schools cannot read and write. We found a significant difference in performance between children of different schools with children from the private school performing best (Fig. 3A: Kruskal Wallis H-test: environmental problem: w2 5 8.579, df 5 2, P 5 0.014; environmental solution w2 5 14.972, df 5 2, Po0.001; n 5 78 questionnaires). When we conducted labor-intensive interviews, these children performed much better and a slightly different picture emerged. In particular, children with the longest exposure to Club Ebobo had the strongest results (Fig. 3B: environmental problem: w2 5 60.696, df 5 3, Po0.001; environmental solution w2 5 31.180, df 5 3, Po0.001; n 5 106 interviewees). A detailed analysis of the evaluation is currently been conducted to look at difference related to each particular question, but Am. J. Primatol. 458 / Breuer and Mavinga TABLE II. Lesson Title and Goals Used in our Environmental Education Activity Book Lesson title The environment The tropical forest The animals and their habitat The diversity of animals Threatened species The chimpanzee The gorilla The role of animals The conflict between humans and wildlife The protected areas and your role in their protection The Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (NNNP) Goal Learn about the role of air, water, and soil as vital elements of the biosphere and why environmental pollution threatens these basic elements and essentially any living being Learn the concepts of different habitats and ecosystems and in particular the composition, ecology, diversity and importance of rain forests Learn about the different biomes of the world and how animals living in them have adopted to their environment Learn about the diversity of animal life and how to categorize the different animal taxa as well as current threats to biodiversity Learn why some species are threatened and protected (e.g. slow reproduction, low numbers,y) and what one can do to ensure their conservation (e.g. do not hunt, trade, or consume these species) Learn about the taxonomy of great apes and the anatomy, behavioral ecology and cultural diversity of chimpanzee populations Learn about the anatomy, behavioral ecology of gorillas and inform about the legal status and ethical, cultural, economic, and ecological importance of great apes, as well as the risks of diseases (e.g. Ebola hemorrhagic fever) resulting from the consumption of their bushmeat Learn about the food chain, the role of carnivores (particularly leopards), and other animals in the forest regeneration Learn about the human caused wildlife and environmental threats (poaching, overhunting, deforestation, y) and ways to mitigate those threats, including concepts of sustainable use Learn about protected areas in different parts of the world, the activities permitted in national parks and the role of protected areas in wildlife and habitat conservation as well as ways how each of us can help to ensure their role Learn about the wildlife living in the NNNP and inform and promote about the conservation and research activities undertaken within NNNP overall these preliminary results indicate that we have increased children’s knowledge about environmental issues. It remains challenging to evaluate the impact of Club Ebobo on changes in attitudes and behavior, because changes in behavior are most easily identified many years later (e.g. through bushmeat market studies and wildlife monitoring) [see also Kuhar et al., this issue]. However, we need to be aware that ape populations can continue to decline (due to diseases such as Ebola) even in the face of reduced poaching. Lessons Learned From Club Ebobo Include teachers and expand teaching styles: Most parents cannot afford the $6 per month to pay for their child’s education in the private school [Riddell, personal communication]. Therefore, it is essential that teachers in public schools are paid regularly, as happens in private schools, are in a position to teach every day, and have adequate training and equipment. It is essential for teachers to be engaged in environmental education for our programs to be successful [Brewer, 2002]. We plan to conduct workshops and provide detailed lesson plans so that the teachers are motivated to integrate Am. J. Primatol. environmental education into their classroom as part of an important tool in promoting the new Congolese wildlife law. WCS and other partners are currently working with the MEF and Ministry of Education on an official agreement to sustain our education activities [Massamba, personal communication]. However, guidelines for working with teachers have to be planned critically because if children lack disciple in the classroom, then teachers feel that their authority is undermined. We have found that rote learning using the local language works best for younger children. Hence, separating classes into students of different ages and adopting the teaching style and language that is most effective for students of particular age groups is crucial for successful message transfer. Evaluation of student learning and the success of particular teaching plans should include the use of oral questionnaires for students. However, we need to make certain that teachers understand the importance of these evaluations and do not inflate the results in an attempt to show that students in their classroom are well educated. Include a diversity of teaching materials and topics: A variety of activities have been shown to work very well during Club Ebobo sessions. This is particularly important for pupils with a limited Great Ape Conservation Education / 459 Fig. 3. Comparison of correct responses between different schools using written questionnaires (A) compared with oral questionnaires (B). The first question relates to knowledge of two environmental problems in the forest of northern Congo and the second question asked children to identify two ways in which they or others can help wildlife or the environment. Bars indicate mean results1standard deviation. Asterisks indicate significant differences in pair-wise comparison using Mann–Whitney U test. education. Multi-media materials are an important education tool in large classrooms and provide insightful knowledge about the biology of protected species and the activities conducted in a protected area. Songs and other arts programs have shown to be one of the key ways to transfer knowledge and motivate participation [see also Jacobsen et al., 2007]. The creation of our activity book has taken a great deal of time and effort but it can now serve as a template that can be used for other education projects. Although not all topics are directly related to the threats wildlife faces in northern Congo, the activity book helps to increase environmental knowledge and basic education including literacy. This is essential as higher education and knowledge has a positive influence on attitudes concerning wildlife conservation [Riddel, 2005]. In addition, it is essential that the children take an active role in environmental conservation. Therefore, we involve them in programs such as tree planting or plastic bag cleaning days. Include children that do not visit the schools: Most children that do not go to school will likely be involved in illegal and nonsustainable wildlife activities in the future. Therefore, it is important to conduct activities, such as nature clubs, outside of the classroom in order to encourage these students to more regularly participate in public schools. We do this by providing them with basic school materials. Dealing with ethnic conflicts also is important. Ba’Aka children are occasionally bullied by Bantu children, despite constant attendance, and this can create a difficult dynamic for the school teacher to deal with. Do not limit your education to one audience: Adults, not children, are mainly involved in the illegal activities and should be the principal target of conservation education [Jacobsen et al., 2006]. It is not clear if children can change their parents’ behavior especially when they are facing day-to-day struggles for survival. In order to archive more immediate changes, we plan parents’ days to better reach the parents of the Club Ebobo members. In recent months, we also started conducting evening presentations for adults. These presentations include photos and videos of protected wildlife and discussions about wildlife and the park. Through informal discussions, we hope to change illegal hunting practices (e.g. no cable snare hunting, no night hunting). In the future we also will invite influential Am. J. Primatol. 460 / Breuer and Mavinga community members, law enforcement officials, and women to our program, and expand our use of communication tools, such as exhibitions, poster, and leaflet campaigns, and broadcasting on local radio and television stations. Maintain a permanent and long-term presence in the rural communities: Ensuring that a project continues encourage people have more confidence in sending their children to the schools Long-term presence will establish the mutual trust that will make conservation education successful [Kasenene & Ross, 2008; Savage et al., this issue]. Over time, this will allow us to conduct additional research to more accurately assess the specific direct and indirect threats to conservation at each locality and to obtain the local support to develop solutions to these problems through active participation. Our aim is to maintain a permanent presence in the villages by employing local people as assistants. This will increase villager exposure to conservation issues and is a critical factor influencing people’s attitudes [Borgerhoff Mulder et al., 2009]. Develop collaborative projects that alleviate poverty and develop alternatives to bushmeat hunting: Many conservation challenges are directly related to poverty [see also Savage et al., this volume]. Rural people in northern Congo (Bantu and Ba-Aka pygmies) are extremely poor and hunting often remains the only source of income. One of our goals is to better understand the links between conservation, reducing poverty, and increasing the standard of living for local people [Walpole & Wilder, 2008]. This will involve identifying the local socio-cultural context that keeps many villagers poor. Although WCS does provide employment and other support such as the medical dispensary in Bomassa and Makao, it has not solved poverty issues [Riddell & Daley, in preparation]. We must work together with the resident logging companies and developmental and health-care organizations to develop a strategy to improve public health and alleviate poverty in rural communities. This includes permanent funding and incentives for children to attend school [e.g. Redford et al., 2008]. Our on-site knowledge can help to identify and mediate with partners in order to alleviate poverty in this remote area where population density is low (around 1 person/km2). One obstacle we face is that alternative protein resources (including information on nonmeat sources of dietary protein and how to produce high-quality protein resource locally) are generally lacking. Finding sources of income and protein generating activities for the local community, and creating community management of resources is essential when mitigating the threats wildlife face in northern Congo [Mockrin et al., 2005]. As a first step we are working on an integrated education approach around NNNP that is tied in with an explicit conservation strategy that involves Am. J. Primatol. socioeconomic outreach, ecological research, and increased law enforcement activities. In 2008 we have already introduced Club Ebobo to the logging town of Loundoungou and now educators are using similar methodologies in their nature clubs in the Kabo, Pokola, and Loundoungou FMUs. An educator and teacher workshop is in preparation that will help standardize objectives, messages, communication, and monitoring tools throughout the region [see also Ormsby, 2007]. In the future we have to monitor wildlife abundance data to fully evaluate whether campaigns like ours, in combination with antipoaching activities are successful. Landscape wide line transect data have recently been available for the great apes [Stokes et al., in preparation], but detailed monitoring data are lacking for the main bushmeat species including monkeys and duikers in northern Congo. This unified approach will hopefully help to reduce poaching of protected species and lead to the more sustainable hunting of wildlife in northern Congo around NNNP. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Our sincere thanks go to the Ministry of Forest Economy for permission to work in the NouabaléNdoki National Park, and to the staff of WCS-Congo Program for crucial logistical and administrative support, particularly all the park authorities and conservation managers. In particularly we like to thank all our other research assistants that have helped in planning and preparing Club Ebobo sessions. Special thanks also to all the local authorities, teachers, and directors of the schools. The Mbeli Bai Study and Club Ebobo are receiving vital support from various North American zoos notably the Brevard Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, Sea World & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Toronto Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Woodland Park Zoo. Further support to the Mbeli Bai Study/Club Ebobo is given by Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund, National Geographic Society, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Cleveland Metropark Zoo, Houston Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, Knoxville Zoo, Little Rock Zoo, and Santa Barbara Zoo. T. B. want to express my sincere thanks to my former colleagues and friends in the primate conservation group of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and in particular to Julia Riedel for their continuous collaboration, especially for the creation of the activity book that is also used for ‘‘Club P.A.N.’’ (Personnes, Animaux et Nature) a similar primary school education program, located around the Taı̈ National Park, Ivory Coast. Tammie Bettinger, and Kathy Lehnhardt provided useful recommendations on evaluation questions. We also thank International Great Ape Conservation Education / 461 Conservation and Education Fund and in particular Cynthia Moses for multi-media support and fruitful discussions and collaborations. Thanks to Julia Riedel, Nalini Mohan, Mike Riddell and two anonymous reviewers who provided useful comments on this manuscript. 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