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Environmental Education as a Component of Multidisciplinary Conservation Programs: Lessons from Conservation Initiatives for Critically Endangered Fruit Bats in the Western Indian Ocean

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Abstract: 

Pteropus livingstonii, P. voeltzkowi,and P. rodricensis are three critically endangered fruit bats from western Indian Ocean islands for which multidisciplinary conservation programs have been established that include environmental education programs (EEPs). We describe these EEPs in terms of the strategies used to achieve them and evaluate the educational and conservation outcomes and impacts of the programs. Educational outputs (including posters, stickers, videos, lesson plans, and workshops), primarily linking human needs to the ecosystem services provided by bats, were delivered to schools and community groups, and local environmental educators were trained to further develop the EEPs. Outcomes included increased local awareness about the bats and their conservation, training of environmental educators, inclusion of bat conservation and environmental issues in the school curricula, and establishment of community-based environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Extensive prior planning, presentations in local languages, distribution of outputs through existing networks of educators, training of local educators, establishment of local environmental NGOs, and local capacity-building were all associated with these EEPs achieving their goals in the under-resourced island locations where these bats are found. The EEPs were also important in the development of other components of their respective conservation programs, such as population monitoring programs. Although long-term conservation impacts, particularly tackling habitat loss, are slow to materialize and social and economic issues need to be addressed, these EEPs have already had important outcomes and have established the foundation for future conservation actions.
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Keywords: Océano Índico Occidental; Pteropus; western Indian Ocean

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Ecología y Genética de Poblaciones, Centro de Ecología, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Científicas, Apartado 21827, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela 2: c/o C. Austin, Institute for Development Policy and Management, Crawford House, Precinct Centre, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9GH, United Kingdom 3: Fauna and Flora International, Great Eastern House, Tenison Road, Cambridge CB1 2DT, United Kingdom 4: Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA, United Kingdom 5: Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104, U.S.A. 6: Forestry Quarters, Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, Solitude, Rodrigues, via Mauritius. 7: Action Comores (International), The Old Rectory, Stansfield, Suffolk, CO10 8LT, United Kingdom

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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