JGI raises chimpanzee awareness in West Africa

In many chimpanzee range areas, people do not know that chimpanzees are endangered and protected by law. 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.

In biodiversity-rich Guinea and Sierra Leone, JGI conducts a variety of awareness-raising efforts. These include billboards such as those pictured here, in both French and local languages. Since March of 2007, the JGI team serving these countries has distributed thousands of posters, stickers, t-shirts, pamphlets and chimpanzee fact sheets. 

Our message reaches far and wide
The Chimpanzee Conservation and Sensitization Program also produces radio spots with conservation messages and jingles. Radio is an efficient way to spread awareness in places with low literacy -- and to reach remote areas. Perfect example: recently, one of our staff members traveled to an ultra-remote village – she was in pick-up truck for 4 hours, on a motorbike for another half-day, and then trekked through the forest for a day. She was tired when she finally arrived, but delighted and quite surprised when she heard children in the village singing the jingle from our radio spot!

We partner with communities
In addition to generating awareness, JGI builds the capacity of Guinea and Sierra Leone communities to develop sustainable economies that can ensure the long-term survival of chimpanzees.

We train community leaders to be para-technicians in sustainable natural resource management. The community leaders inventory the natural resources that their communities use. Are there chimp populations nearby that could be a basis for eco-tourism? Are there areas that might support forest reserves, or fast-growing indigenous tree species for fuel-wood supply? With JGI’s help, the paratechnicians learn to manage and develop these resources and identify business opportunities.

JGI then provides training in small-scale business development and marketing, and, after a competitive review, funding and implementation assistance for the best plans. Training, planning and implementation are variously supported by the US Agency for International Development and the Alcoa Foundation.

We see results
Says Program Director Marie Claude Gauthier: “With our activities and particularly our radio broadcasts, the plight of chimpanzees is becoming a topic of discussion among functionaries, journalists, policemen, schoolchildren, NGOs. This doesn’t mean everybody is willing to stop all destructive practices, but it does mean that people think about chimps, talk about chimps and will, more and more, take action to protect chimps!”


 

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