The role that the GSMP plays in education has two focuses; zoo education and community awareness. The sections below describe these two areas. It is hoped that zoos and other organisations wishing to contribute to the conservation of banteng, anoa and babirusa can gain ideas described below. These organisations can also access materials available on this site.
Informing Zoo Visitors
A way that zoos and other ex situ activities can potentially support conservation of Anoa, Banteng and Babirusa is through increasing awareness of the public. Every year an estimated 700 million visits are made worldwide to zoos and aquariums which are members of regional or national associations. Each of these visits presents an opportunity to engage with the visitor and increase their knowledge and understanding of threatened species and conservation issues whilst fostering positive and conservation-friendly attitudes towards wildlife and ultimately lead to a behaviour change that supports conservation activities of wild animals. Especially in Indonesia there is an opportunity to inspire zoo staff and governing authorities, zoo visitors and the wider community to care about and contribute to conservation of their national threatened fauna and habitats and to contribute to building a “culture of conservation”.
Many zoos around the world nowadays have strong education and learning departments with trained and dedicated staff, learning facilities, interpretation materials, and conservation-focussed signage. However, not all zoos are equipped or have access to the best resources; materials and signage may exist but be outdated or not effective and staff may be passionate but not well-trained enough to do as good a job as they could. Therefore the more advanced zoos should assist and support these other zoos, by helping in the training of staff, or in providing the design of effective signage and interpretation materials. Even experienced zoos should engage in the exchange of experience and materials. In a preliminary survey about existing materials on Anoa, Banteng and Babirusa in EAZA and AZA zoos, as well as National Parks in Java, few examples were found for education materials and conservation-focused signage on Anoa, Banteng and Babirusa so this is something even the best zoos can improve on.
Raising Community Awareness
Local communities in range areas play an essential role in the conservation of wild populations. Their awareness, understanding, interest and active involvement may be crucial in the success of projects. Skills and resources needed for community-based conservation initiatives overlap to a high degree with education, awareness and outreach work that zoos do. Many zoos around the world have strong education and learning departments with trained and dedicated staff, learning facilities, interpretation materials, and conservation-focussed signage. These zoos could make an important contribution to in situ conservation if they share these resources and skills with local authorities, National Park offices, NGOs or other projects and initiatives. Zoos could help in capacity building for education work by local or provincial conservation authorities. Protected area management offices (provincial or local authorities, National Parks offices) often use education only as a minor part of their work and often have less skills and resources available. Most of their work concentrates on socialisation such as prevention of hunting in combination with patrolling local communities. Often, their staff aren’t trained in education, but come from the biology sector or other professional areas, or are field rangers. Assisting these authorities in improving the educational skills of their staff and increasing the variety and quality of audiences, tools and strategies, would be a very useful contribution by zoos.
Zoos can also work to assist with strategic planning for conservation education as few in situ conservation authorities have strategic educational plans, and zoos can help with designing these. Educational staff of zoos can give feedback on specific programmes, their aims, methods and evaluation. Another exchange that can happen between zoos and National Parks and potentially local/international NGOs is to assist in the design and implementation of visitor centres. Finally, for bigger offices, such as provincial conservation authorities or National Park headquarters, visitor centres zoo can play a major role in public awareness. The design of centres with effective conservation education could be assisted by zoos.