Powell, OH – Recognizing the critical need of wildlife professionals to address escalating conflict between humans and wildlife, four U.S. zoos (Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Denver Zoo, and Houston Zoo) supported the participation of fifteen wildlife conservation professionals from eight African countries in a “conflict transformation” training designed and led by the Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration (HWCC). The participants included conservationists working to save lions, Grevy’s zebras, elephants, rhinos, mountain gorillas, wild dogs, cheetahs and chimpanzees. All fifteen participants face serious daily challenges, such as preventing the illegal killing of lions and elephants in northern Kenya – conflict that is the direct result of increased ethnic violence.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration’s training addresses the theory, principles and practice of transforming complex conflicts into sustainable solutions for people and wildlife. Participants draw on best practices from the peace-building and conflict transformation fields, and in the process their capacity to analyze conflict, anticipate and address conflicts as they arise, and address long-standing conflicts is strengthened and improved. The HWCC training provides tools for wildlife professionals on the front lines of conservation in Africa to determine root causes of conflict, build a foundation for trust and respect among stakeholders, and unearth fertile ground for cultivating sustainable solutions.
Often described as the “missing link in conservation”, HWCC’s approach to transforming conflict between people and wildlife through capacity building can protect increasingly threatened populations of wild animals as well as the people who live near them. Within less than one week of completing the training, the participants were already reporting progress in resolving long-standing conflicts. Said one participant from Uganda, “the training opened up my mind and created a sense of direction to mitigation measures I am implementing in my conservation area.”
Human-wildlife conflict is a serious obstacle to wildlife conservation worldwide and is becoming more prevalent as human populations increase, development expands, the global climate changes and other human and environmental factors put people and wildlife in greater direct competition for a shrinking resource base. Supporting training for African conservationists is one way zoos can contribute.
The Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration launched in 2006 when more than 50 conservation professionals representing 40 organizations gathered in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Francine Madden, HWCC Executive Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 675 species and provides more than $1 million annually to support over 70 conservation projects worldwide. A recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Club, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hosts more than two million visitors annually and was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating. For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.