In many chimpanzee range areas, people don’t know that chimpanzees are endangered and protected by law. What’s more, legislation often is insufficient and governments don’t have the political will or means to aggressively protect chimpanzees. From the park ranger and forestry agent to the judges who must adjudicate wildlife laws, implementation capacity is extremely weak. Human resources are insufficient, training is nonexistent, and logistical resources inadequate.
All of this makes awareness efforts a critical part of conservation. Only when local communities understand chimpanzees’ precarious state, similarities to us, value to local economies and role within ecosystems will they work for chimpanzee survival.
To address the lack of public awareness and understanding, JGI implements a number of initiatives in great ape range countries in Guinea and Sierra Leone and in targeted communities in the Republic of Congo:
- Large-scale awareness campaigns using media such as radio, television and newspapers, and advertising
- Smaller-scale efforts using traveling plays, billboards, posters, and flyers
- JGI’s Roots & Shoots environmental education program for youth, which plays a vital role in educating young people about endangered species and conservation issues
We also focus on the legal and enforcement apparatus necessary to protect great apes and their habitats, conducting reviews of existing legislation, and providing training and awareness materials for law enforcement personnel.
In Uganda, JGI has developed an Environmental Education Teachers Guide to help teachers include relevant chimpanzee issues in curricula. JGI-Uganda also carries out “sensitization” briefings for local leaders and politicians to raise their awareness of environmental concerns and the efforts needed to address them.
Spreading the word across the globe
Around the world, Jane Goodall is one of the most recognizable champions of chimpanzees. She travels and speaks more than 300 days a year, telling individuals and large audiences about her life and work, the threats facing chimpanzees and other great apes, and JGI’s conservation, development and education work. JGI also has a Speakers Bureau of staff experts who make public presentations on Gombe research, chimpanzee behavior, community-centered conservation, youth education and more.
Educating Zoo Visitors
In 1984, JGI founded ChimpanZoo, an international program dedicated to the well-being and understanding of chimpanzees in zoos and other captive settings. Participating zoos and JGI staff train students, caretakers and volunteers to record behavioral observations and work with zoo keepers to improve the lives of captive chimpanzees and compare their behavior to that of chimps in the wild.