Rafiki wa Faru (Friend of Rhino) Environmental Education Project
Using education to ground-truth the conservation effort
Mkomazi is Tanzania’s newest National Park. Upgrading a Game Reserve to National Park status can cause resentment with local communities since restrictions that impact on livelihoods are enforced. The Rafiki wa Faru (Friend of Rhino) environmental education project was launched with the aim of building positive relationships with communities living close to the Park.
‘Privileged’ access to the Park was perceived with suspicion and rumours spread regarding the legitimacy of activities inside the Park. We hoped to address this by organising students and their teachers on educational visits to witness the conservation effort for themselves thereby nurturing a positive attitude. We recognized the value of targeting school children since they can act as message multipliers in their family groups. Their teachers were also considered a target audience since they are often respected community members.
The project has been closely monitored to gauge levels of success and some esoteric methods of data collection developed in order to survey children. Our research shows that some of the misconceptions about the operations of the project have been addressed. Our research also shows us where we need to be more effective.
COMMENDATION for the BIAZA Awards 2012 Malcolm Whitehead Award (Best Education Project: Schools and Educational Institutions)