Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in a Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration (HWCC) course. It was an intense four day training that packed a punch! It provided essential tools enabling me to handle conflict in any setting, but specifically focus around human-wildlife conflict. The term “human-wildlife conflict” is a bit misleading. You may be picturing students in a room with a wild tiger, being told to “work things out”, but let me be clear: people have conflicts with other people about wildlife.
Participants hailed from all over the US. Many of them were from organizations having the same goal of conserving wolves, but not having a history of working well together. The dissonance between the group was so palpable, that at first we were asked not to reveal where we worked. By the end of the training, all of the organizations were working together in harmony and happily revealed who they were during the last case study. It was a testament to the HWCC course itself to see these groups working together and watch a history of conflicts resolved by the end of the training.
The course focused on providing tools to maintain peace for continued progress in wildlife conservation efforts. It prepares participants to recognize the potential signs of conflict and handle them in the earliest stages. In the world of conservation, time is of the essence. Endangered species often don’t have time for humans to fight amongst themselves. Conflict can bring species protection efforts to a complete halt, which is why this training is so valuable in wildlife conservation.
We are always looking for practical ways to assist our wildlife conservation partners in the field. HWCC held a training last week in Kenya, and we were able to fund a park guard from the Niassa lion preserve in Mozambique, the lead conservation biologist of the Niassa Lion project in Mozambique, the lead education officer of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe, and a researcher from the Senegal chimp project.
These are a few of the responses we received from the participants after the training:
“Today we finished the training on Human Wildlife Conflict Collaboration at Ol Pejeta in Kenya. I would like to express my gratitude to you for every thing you have done to give to me the opportunity to participate in this training.
I will take this course seriously. I have learned as much I could to improve my contribution for conservation in Niassa National Reserve inMozambique. This course exceeded my expectation and I’m very happy to have this opportunity.”
Mbumba, Niassa National Reserve
“Well, I can honestly say that was the best and most useful workshop I have ever attended. Thank you and the Houston Zoo so much for not only introducing us to HWCC but also for sponsoring Mbumba and I and paying for the travel costs. We very much appreciate it. Both of us walked away with lots of new ideas and tools to help us deal with conflicts and also make sure that we don’t inadvertently create more conflict as we move forward. My head is buzzing! The timing was perfect as NLP moves into engaging community guardians, finding solutions to bush meat snaring and developing the Environmental and Skills training centre. It was an amazing group of people that attended from Kenya, Uganda,Tanzania mainly with Kelly from Senegal and a few others from other projects. Peter from the Grevy’s Zebra Trust was there and it was good to see him again and speak about their Guardian programs, and I had a long talk to Wilton from PDC about the bush school program which he runs. So it was so productive on all fronts.
So thank you, it made a big difference. Already I am thinking of other people I need to encourage to do the course as I think it should be essential for anyone working in conservation.
Kind regards, and many thanks again.”
Niassa Lion Conservation
We are very excited to announce that we are hosting the HWCC training at the Houston Zoo in November for our local partners. Conflict has collapsed conservation efforts in the past, but this training is equipping armies of conservationists with the tools to advance in the battle to save wildlife.