Community engagement decreases poaching
Recent research in Thailand has shown just how important community engagement is in achieving Zero Poaching.
Rob Steinmetz and his team from WWF Thailand, documented the changes in poaching activities and wildlife numbers over a 4-6 year period in Kuiburi National Park, Thailand, with some remarkable results.
Rob has been working in similar community outreach programs since the 90’s but this is the first time that the effect on poaching and subsequently species recovery has been measured scientifically, proving that proactive park outreach activities can suppress poaching and spark wildlife recovery in South-East Asia.
"A big question was how to change people from passive by-standers into actively engaged and caring about protected areas" - Rob Steinmetz, WWF Thailand-Greater Mekong Region
In total, 116 outreach programs were conducted throughout the study period, aimed at adult farmers, community leaders and children.
As part of the project, Rob and his team initiated a Wildlife Recovery Network with 11 local schools. Teachers drafted and implemented a curriculum focused on wildlife recovery and organised anti-poaching parades and wildlife viewing events at the park.
One of the problems Rob and his team faced was demonstrating to local communities the value of saving wildlife within the park to their own day-to-day lives. Many of the villagers depend on non-timber forest products (NTFPs) – natural products from the forest that do not require the felling of trees, such as fruits and nuts. Knowing this, the team were able to demonstrate the value of tiger prey species, such as gaur, which play a vital role in distributing the seeds of plants that provide several NTFPs.
Now, many of the villagers are involved with the monitoring of prey species using camera traps.
"Me and my friends are going to help conserve wildlife and are going to tell our parents and relatives not to harm wildlife" - Primary School Student, Praek Tacaw school
At the end of the study, results from a survey with over 300 participants from each of the 12 villages showed that between 69–81% of the respondents had noticed a decrease in the six different types of poaching signs the research investigated.
These results were reflected by decreases in poaching pressures measured in every single patrol zone that was used for the purposes of this study.
Rob has been involved in other community outreach programs, like this one, in several different other areas, each one demonstrating that community engagement is a fundamental step in achieving Zero Poaching.
Zero Poaching or Zero Wildlife? - the choice is ours - the choice is now
SYMPOSIUM: TOWARDS ZERO POACHING: ASIA
In February one of the most significant anti-poaching meeting ever held is to take place in Nepal. The ‘Symposium: Towards Zero Poaching: Asia’ will be hosted by the Nepal Government, bringing together the greatest global anti-poaching minds to take part in presentations and discussions aimed at ending the Asian poaching crisis.
The Symposium will be attended by government representatives from more than 13 Asian countries. Nepal is the natural host for this meeting as the only country to date to have achieved Zero Poaching.
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