World Day of Social Justice is observed annually on 20 February to encourage people to explore how social justice affects issues of unemployment, unfair exclusion, social integration and poverty. In our conservation efforts, LWT strives to include all members of communities, trying to remove social barriers based on gender, religion, age or disability.
One example is the way we approach our community engagement programmes.
Alongside the Department of National Parks and Wildlife and Nyika Park representatives our Education Coordinator Frank recently co-facilitated a meeting in Chitipa District that was open to all. In attendance were eight different community-based Natural Resource Management Committees, with 71 participants in total who comprised of local leaders, community members and students.
At the meeting Frank played our ’30 Year’ campaign video to raise awareness of the stiffer penalties for wildlife crimes introduced by the Wildlife Act of 2017. The session included a combination of visual and tactical aids and a group discussion followed on the critical areas affecting conservation in communities. Attendees were encouraged to share success stories and work together to unpack the challenges encountered in community wildlife conservation efforts.
This session with the Kasuntha and Thelele communities was a follow up to a meeting last year and aimed at assessing progress made on wildlife co-management in the communities since then.
In the past six months they reported successes in convincing fellow community members to stop poaching through both their own awareness campaigns as well as one-to-one discussions with some of their community members. These actions resulted in the voluntary surrendering of two rifles by would-be poachers as well as a group collection of 12 wire snares set by poachers within Nyika National Park.
These are promising examples that highlight the benefits of inclusive education and empowering communities to take an active role in wildlife conservation.
Though our programme in this particular area does not yet support alternative income generating activities – such as through livelihood skills training to further deter poaching – it is our hope that through increased funding this will be a future possibility. If you’re interested in supporting us in this way please get in touch with our Head of Education.