ORYX Outlook – World Wildlife Day – How do we keep people engaged with conservation?

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World Wildlife Day – “the future of wildlife is in our hands”

The UN World Wildlife Day is the international celebration of the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora, as well as an occasion to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. With the rise of various conservation campaigns such as this using social media platforms it is important to keep people engaged.

There is so much negative news in conservation and often the outlook can be bleak. At times I have felt, as I think anyone with an interest in conservation has, a bit like we are fighting a losing battle. We are constantly bombarded with the news that the natural world is being systematically destroyed. The problem of how to keep up morale in the face of it all and gain public support is a constant concern.

The big question is with how do you balance keeping people interested in the natural world without painting an unrealistic picture or one that is too depressing?

The fact is that most people don’t want to read or watch depressing things. It is extremely hard to get conservation films and TV series commissioned as most people tend to watch nature programs as a form of escapism. Often the resulting programs portray idyllic scenes of African savannahs or lush rainforest teeming with life. The truth is these locations are carefully chosen and edited in a manner that makes them far removed from reality. While gripping documentaries such as Virunga (2014) are made these aren’t the sort of things you want to see when you sit down after a long day at the office. The latest landmark BBC series “The Hunt” attempted to address this balance with one program in the series dedicated to conservation and science.

An area that should be expanded upon is getting more stories about scientists and conservationists working hard on the ground into the public eye. Many of these stories are incredibly inspiring and the passion of these individuals can be infectious. Showing the amazing work being carried out can result in feel good news and break down some of the complex issues that stop people engaging. It is time to start focusing on small victories and take courage from them. Amplifying the positives and keeping solutions as inclusive as possible is the way forward.

At ORYX we feel strongly that there is beginning to be a mind-set change towards conservation. It really is getting to the crunch time and people are starting to recognise that. Big name celebs such as Prince William and Leonardo di Caprio have taken up the conservation cause which generates huge amounts of publicity. Increased social media hype (such as the outcry about Cecil) is starting to get the issues out there and huge numbers of wildlife and nature based petitions are signed on a daily basis showing that many people really do care.

By taking people out to visit our partner conservation organisations, showing them both the incredible wildlife and the scientists working to conserve it and generating income for both Tusk Trust and wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) we hope to do our bit towards the greater cause.

 

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