18 October 2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society News Release
NEW YORK —WCS’s Peru Program is fighting wildlife trafficking through a campaign that leverages one of the most effective means of reaching a wide audience: Facebook.
Initiated late in 2015, the campaign uses Facebook and other social media platforms to gauge attitudes toward the wildlife trade as well as inform the public about the many wildlife species and ecosystems imperiled by unsustainable exploitation.
“Using a platform such as Facebook to engage Peruvians online about threats to the nation’s wildlife could become a way to stop behaviors that feed into wildlife trafficking,” said Diego Coll, Communications Coordinator for WCS Peru. “We’ve already had a lot of interest in this from many people, a fact that can help us reduce the demand of wildlife as pets.”
Working with Peru’s National Forestry and Wildlife Service, WCS Peru launched their online efforts with a series of images and graphics with simple messages focusing on wildlife trade to test response rates. Messages ranged from “2,000 birds can be sold illegally in one day” to “They kill the moms, so they can sell their young,” a reference to poachers’ method of capturing of baby animals for the pet trade.
The initial response rates exceeded expectations; WCS staff estimated that a total of 247,634 people viewed at least one of the graphics shared on Facebook in only one month. The graphic focusing on the killing of mothers to capture young animals was shared 340 times and viewed by more than 43,000 people. In late August, WCS Peru created an album to compile all of the graphics, which received 758 shares within the week.
“These reactions give us a solid indication that we can use scientific information to generate both empathy and support from people in large enough numbers to make a difference, such as decreasing the demand for wild pets,” added Coll.
The campaign continues on Facebook and Twitter. In partnership with the National Forest and Wildlife Service (SERFOR), and with the support of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), WCS has also organized several workshops and talks on the theme of wildlife trafficking.
Peru is home to a number of charismatic New World species, including the jaguar (Panthera onca), vicuña (Vicugna vicugna), spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), Andean condor (Vultur gryphus), Titicaca frog (Telmatobias culeus), and scarlet macaw (Ara macao).
According to SERFOR and WCS, more than 380 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and invertebrates in Peru and the region are impacted by the wildlife trade as medicinal products, wild meat, and live animals for the pet trade. Wildlife species most threatened by the illegal pet trade include; the canary-winged parakeet (Brotogeris versicolurus); red-masked parakeet (Psittacara erythrogenys); different species of endangered macaws; aquatic turtles such as yellow spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis); terrestrial turtles such as the yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulta); mammals, mainly primates such as black-capped capuchin (Sapajus apella); squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus); woolly monkey (Lagothrix lagotricha); pygmy marmoset (Cebuella pygmaea); brown-mantled tamarin (Saguinus fuscicollis).
Peru has become a hotbed of wildlife trafficking; the country contains more than 40 significant wildlife markets, 18 of which are located in Lima. WCS is working to stem the tide of wildlife trafficking in Peru and throughout the region, and in the next months will launch a nationwide communications campaign based on this project.
WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: newsroom.wcs.org Follow: @WCSNewsroom. For more information: 347-840-1242.
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