Abstract # 8029 Event # 105:

Scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2017 03:15 PM-03:30 PM: (National Ballroom Salon B) Oral Presentation


THE ROLE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS IN PRIMATE CONSERVATION: EXAMPLES FROM UGANDA

S. J. Gessa1,2 and J. M. Rothman3,4
1Makerere University, Department of Journalism and Communication, Kampala, USA, 2Uganda Wildlife Authority, 3Department of Anthropology, Hunter College of the City University of New York, 4New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology
line
     Within developing countries primate conservation is not only important locally in communities neighboring primate habitats, but is also critical at the national level because all citizens have the ability to influence conservation decisions for the country. While local community engagement typically features in conservation programs, people geographically distant from primate habitats are often uninformed about biodiversity and economic benefits of protecting primates. For example, ecotourism is now the largest foreign income earner in Uganda, but few citizens know the threats facing primates. Here, we outline three examples of successful ongoing public relations campaigns to promote conservation of primates and other wildlife at the national level. First, a tour with journalists and politicians spanning a few days a month was launched to explore protected areas, highlight their significance in the mainstream media, and encourage tourism by Ugandan citizens. Second, intramural sports teams were organized among the police, military and wildlife authority to encourage positive exchange and mobilize additional government support for conservation. Third, national participation in international wildlife events through school programs in cities, sports events (e.g., wildlife marathons), public lectures and city exhibits emphasized the important role Uganda plays in hosting a good portion of the world’s biodiversity. This public relations approach provides a new dimension to primate conservation, and highlights the importance of integrating the public into primate conservation nationwide.