Saving Great Apes:
Great Apes Public Awareness Project
The indigenous people of the Congo Basin have been sharing the forest with great apes for thousands of years, yet most know very little about them, nor have they actually seen one. The regions of Cuvette Central, Cuvette Ouest, Sangha and Likouala in the Congo Basin have one of the highest great ape populations on the African Continent. The indigenous people in this region have been sharing their habitat with these species for thousands of years, yet most know very little about them. And as INCEF’s surveys have revealed, most of the population has never even seen a great ape.INCEF is working with local media specialists and scientists to produce and disseminate videos to teach villagers about gorillas and chimpanzees and raise awareness about current threats to them.
The bushmeat trade (hunting and commercial sale of wildlife for human consumption) is taking a toll on great ape populations in the Congo Basin. It is also bringing humans and remote wildlife populations into closer and closer contact, creating a significant increase in disease transmission within and between human and wildlife populations. The risk to humans who hunt and consume the meat of infected animals is enormous. The Great Ape Public Awareness Project promotes prevention of disease transmission and offers insight into the ecology and behavior of great apes: long-overdue education for people living in close proximity to gorillas and chimpanzees.
During and after the 2003 Ebola outbreak in the Republic of Congo, several media organizations put together news pieces and film projects about the virus, its threat to both the gorilla and human population, and the implications for biodiversity and global health. Unfortunately, none of these reports and films were shown locally or translated into the local language.
New conservation strategies are needed to integrate issues of biodiversity with public health outreach. INCEF combines these issues with the power of moving images and sound, providing locally-produced videos featuring local people speaking in their own words.
INCEF Education Teams have brought villagers throughout the northern regions of the Republic of Congo, face to face with gorillas and chimpanzees – usually for the first time - through video-centered education outreach.
INCEF’s approach begins by introducing audiences to Chimpanzees and Gorillas.
Gorillas and Chimpanzees: Both films are made up of footage donated to INCEF by scientists working in the region. Edited to local music, they show audiences what they look like, their intelligence and social structure, and how much they resemble humans.
Great Apes: So Like Us: The film examines our relationship to the Great Apes, what the threats are and explains in-depth their social behavior, how they help secure the integrity of the forest, and why their preservation is so important.
All films are produced by local media professionals who learn to focus on clear and culturally appropriate messages. All films are voiced over in local languages. INCEF trains education outreach teams to use battery operated projection systems and to use a standardized methodology that includes pre- and post-screening survey questions and participatory discussion of the films.
From June of 2007 through August of 2008 these films were disseminated to over 90,000 individuals by four educators traveling more than 2500 kilometers, mostly on foot.
2008 Republic of Congo Performance Report - Great Apes and Ebola