Successful conservation projects often have productive partnerships that range beyond the conventional collaborations. Several of our projects would not have seen the light of day if not for the active support of the media, social leaders, and of course, the very communities sharing space with wildlife.
Working with the media
Wildlife conservation has sometimes been referred to as an exercise in relationship management. Indeed, without the support of various stakeholders, it would be nearly impossible to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of our projects.
The media has a wide reach in disseminating conservation messages not only to the public but also to decision makers. We work on capacity building activities aimed at journalists from the state as well as local level, and provide timely inputs to conservation stories. In the recent times, over 200 articles have been published in English and vernacular press to which we have provided scientific inputs, increasing the coverage of conservation issues and bringing them into mainstream consciousness.
Public information campaigns
Local people living in or around wildlife areas are the most vulnerable and least equipped to deal with their neighbours. Our conservation volunteers have carried out series of public information campaigns in and around protected areas not only to spread the message of conservation, but also to understand some of the hard issues of conservation. Through street plays, movie screenings, posters, banners and handouts, the impacts of certain activities are brought home to the communities in addition to developing an awareness about handling situations of human-wildlife conflict. Volunteers have also worked on creating awareness amongst tourists, particularly those visiting religious shrines inside protected areas. An important activity they have taken up is to work with community leaders and temple authorities to find solutions to reduce impacts of religious festivals carried out inside protected areas.
Apart from the outreach activities, these targeted campaigns have helped create a network of volunteers from urban as well as rural areas. It also helps build a positive relationship between frontline staff of forest department and local villagers.
In the coming years we aim to engage more with elected representatives from local governing bodies to build a stronger political support for wildlife conservation and protected areas.