Primate diaries: Education and awareness-raising activities in Indonesia
Taken from IAR's blog, Primate Diaries:
Volunteer Tine Rattel reports...
International Animal Rescue recognises the importance of public education as an integral part of conservation outreach, with the ultimate aim of changing attitudes to conservation, resulting in pro-conservation behaviour.
Part of our education and awareness-raising involves analysing local people’s attitudes, knowledge and values concerning animal welfare and conservation. Our efforts focus on expanding the community’s capacity to improve environmental quality by educating both children and adults. The fundamental aim of our education efforts is that pro-conservation behaviour will be adopted within those communities currently exploiting natural resources, in the form of a reduction of resource extraction to sustainable levels and the elimination of illegal activities such as hunting of endangered wildlife. The central message we disseminate is that people need to protect their environment to ensure that successive generations have a chance for a good future, with the same ecosystem services they rely on. We encourage people of every age within and outside their community to work collectively by addressing their common interests. Our long-term aim is to balance the inevitable conflict between short-term needs of local people and long-term benefits that conservation programmes can generate. If local people and the government recognise that preserving the environment provides socio-economic benefits, rainforests will survive as functional ecosystems, and the future of their inhabitants will be secured.
Our Education and Awareness Coordinator, Indri Hapsari, is currently focusing on community education aimed at children from ages of 10 up to 18 by giving presentations about biodiversity conservation and animal welfare at schools and our Slow Loris Awareness Campaign Coordinator, Indah Winarti is carrying out awareness activities by having information stands at local markets in the cities and at universities, as well as giving workshops in villages in habitat areas. Both are additionally raising awareness by providing important information and answering questions about the wildlife trade and conservation issues using social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Engaging with young people to facilitate their personal, social and educational development and encourage them to become an active member of our awareness activities is a vital part of our work. We believe that educating the future generation at a young age to appreciate and conserve wild species will increase the effectiveness of our programme.
Another important part of our Slow Loris Awareness Campaign is to conduct seminars for governmental authorities to increase the awareness for this low-profile species.
There are three species of slow loris in Indonesia and all are threatened with extinction. The Javan slow loris has even been included in the “IUCN Red List of 25 Most Endangered Primates of the World”. Whilst habitat loss was once deemed the major threat to the survival of the slow loris, it has recently been suggested that trade, both for the pet market and traditional medicine, is having the greater impact on population numbers. Despite the national and international laws prohibiting the trade in slow lorises, they are sold openly in animal markets throughout Indonesia. The following-through of law enforcement is essential if current legal protection for Indonesian wildlife is to be effective.