GRACE Uses Radio for Conservation Education
The Tayna Nature Reserve, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, is managed in partnership with the local community and is home to the critically endangered Grauer's gorilla (Gorilla beringei graueri). In response to Ebola and COVID-19, the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center opted to utilise radio for conservation education as an alternative to in-person programming in 2021.
Very little data exists on the ability of radio programming to positively impact conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours, so GRACE used this time to evaluate our efforts. GRACE educators and international zoo advisors created a new radio campaign focused on the threats of human-wildlife disease transmission. Pre-/post-evaluations were conducted with 200+ individuals across 21 community neighbourhoods (Barazas). Solar-powered radios were provided. Programming was delivered in local languages and a variety of formats.
Knowledge increased, when the campaign was run, as was shown in the post-evaluation scores: 100 % of respondents reported that gorillas can get sick; 99 % said gorillas and humans can get the same diseases; and 89 % said practicing good hygiene can prevent gorillas from getting sick. In addition, 88 % of respondents correctly reported information, which was only delivered through lyrics of a song written specifically for the campaign. Furthermore, post-evaluation data indicated that radio can be effective at encouraging action: 100 % of people surveyed told friends to listen to conservation programming on the radio. In the context of community led conservation, spreading awareness amongst the community is an important action for gorilla conservation. Findings support the use of radio, including the use of culturally relevant song, as an important and effective tool for conservation education.
Building on our findings, GRACE educators have designed and plan to launch and evaluate a new radio campaign in 2022 focused on the connection between human, forest, and gorilla health. The new campaign is expected to air beginning in October 2022. "Stay tuned" for updates on this exciting new radio outreach program!
Fawcett, K. et. al. (2022): Radio as a Tool for Conservation Education. International Zoo Educators Journal (International Zoo Educators Association) 58, 32-35