Promoting Chimpanzee Guardianship Values to Reduce Illegal Wildlife Trade in Liberia

GREENLIFE West Africa and Partners Hold a Workshop to Validate Awareness Raising Strategy

PCI Media, GREENLIFE West Africa (GLWA), Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue Project (LCRP), the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and other partners have designed a Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategy to reduce demand for chimpanzees for bushmeat and pet trade. The strategy fosters guardianship values among urban and rural dwellers including hunters, bushmeat traders and bushmeat consumers. The initiative is funded by the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund, United Kingdom.

In the pilot project, SBCC was used to influence behavior by providing human connection to primates, role-modeling, and a trusted source of accurate information. The project raised awareness of the importance of chimpanzees in Liberia through a three-episode radio drama and talk show series entitled: “Protecting Chimpanzees in Yambo’s Town” that aired on Truth FM covering Monrovia and surrounding areas and Voice of Gedeh covering Zwedru and surrounding communities.

The broadcast was done from December 4-18, 2023. A total of 27 listeners including farmers, business people, teachers, and social workers called the show to ask questions and make comments about alternative livelihoods for hunters and bushmeat traders. Other comments centered around people’s choices of meat, alternative sources of protein, and traditional taboos.

A robust Monitoring and Evaluation system was developed and deployed before and after the radio programs to measure people’s level of knowledge and understanding of chimpanzee protection. The areas targeted in the pilot phase were Duala Market in Monrovia several markets in Zwedru, and Grand Gedeh County in Southeastern Liberia.

GREENLIFE West Africa Darius Barrolle, making a statement in one of the group sessions

On February 20, 2024, PCI Media and partners held a one-day end-of-project workshop in Monrovia that was attended by more than 20 participants from different sectors and non-governmental organizations including the Society for the Conservation of Nature-Liberia, Liberia Youth Climate Actions, GCAP Media, Fauna & Flora, representatives from the British Embassy, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FDA, and the National Traditional Council of Liberia. During the end of the project workshop, the SBCC strategy for chimpanzee protection in Liberia was validated and participants discussed the challenges, lessons learned, recommendations, and impressions from the pilot radio drama and talk show series.

British Ambassador to Liberia, His Excellency, Neil Bradley, making remarks during the workshop

The British Ambassador to Liberia, His Excellency, Neil Bradley, also graced the occasion and briefed the participants on the UK government’s funding of conservation efforts in Liberia. In his closing remarks, Ambassador Bradley thanked the participants and encouraged them to ensure Illegal Wildlife Trade is reduced. “We are very conscious that in Liberia, there is a lot of news out there in terms of human development, education, health care, and creating livelihoods. But with all of that, we must not neglect or forget about our natural environment. These are Liberia’s forests and biodiversity which go hand in hand.”

Mr. James Desmond, Co-Founder LCRP, discussing the challenges, and lessons learned with the participants

Going forward, PCI Media and GREENLIFE West Africa will work together to source funding to implement the full SBCC strategy for chimpanzee guardianship in Liberia which could include a 52-episode radio drama and talk show series as well as community awareness campaigns throughout Liberia.

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