Educational Outreach in the Buffer Communities of the Cockscomb Basin

To conduct an educational outreach campaign in the buffer communities of the Cockscomb Basin about the greater significance of the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, its historical significance, current research in the area, importance of the jaguar as an indicator species and possible ways to mitigate threats to them and their habitat. The project will focus on local community empowerment of the jaguar’s habitat and their ability to positively benefit from the Preserve and the peripheral economic resources jaguar conservation provides.

The Partners

CAVU. Wildlife Conservation Society’s Jaguar Conservation Program (JCP) was one of the leading forces to create the Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve, which is a model for such reserves around the world. As such, JCP’s continued research and involvement is instrumental in the fight to save the Jaguar along the MesoAmerican Biological Corridor from Mexico to Argentina. WCS’s research, field biologists and methodologies are critical to conservation in the area and vitally important elements to convey to stakeholders of the Cockscomb Reserve and more broadly throughout the Corridor. The Panthera Foundation is intellectually supporting the project through and is operating as a guide to the relevance and use of the project internationally.

Finally, the Cockscomb Basin has been co-managed by the Belize Audobon Society since its inception in 1990. They assist in maintaining the park and work with the local Mayan communities, which inhabit the buffer areas of the Preserve. Furthermore, communicating with community members the work of BAS will increase their effectiveness and local support. Their historical, geographic and local knowledge will be paramount to the overall success of the project.

Project Outline

The project was completed within 14 consecutive days in April 2008. The first of the three phases completed was to develop and craft a complete project awareness and scope. CAVU worked with WCS biologists and BAS field staff and park guards to determine the biggest threats to the Cockscomb Preserve. The messaging of the campaign was tailored to bridge the gap in local community awareness of BAS/WCS projects and objectives in the region and how individuals and communities can become involved in the conservation of the jaguar. During this stage CAVU’s project coordinator and producer visited the Preserve and its buffer communities with aforementioned BAS/WCS staff to identify various stakeholders such as ranchers, Mayan townspeople, park guards, field guides and biologists, to learn about their concerns and present the project. This allowed CAVU to survey a broad spectrum of individuals as well as gain a deeper understanding of the threats and opportunities in the region.

The second phase comprised the full CAVU team, where we constructed an educational conservation story in which we cast, shot, and edited in 10 days.

The third and final phase was the projection of the educational media tool, in which CAVU traveled to two communities that were critical to the Cockscomb Basin Preserve as identified by BAS/WCS. CAVU surveyed the responses from communities on video and provided copies of the media tool for partner organizations to use in workshops with focus groups as well as other critical communities.

Principal Objectives

  • Increase awareness among multi-level stakeholders about the importance of the jaguar as an indicator of a healthy forest and its contribution to those that use the buffer areas of the Cockscomb Preserve directly or indirectly.
  • Create general awareness among communities, public opinion makers, policy makers and NGOs, about the interconnectedness of the corresponding forest in the region to Jaguar Conservation while also illustrating tremendous pressures facing these resources, and the importance of appropriate management of the connectedness of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
  • Create an educational tool that is useful to BAS and WCS and Panthera in their ongoing educational and outreach programming.
  • Provide a wider understanding among stakeholders as to the resource of BAS as a conservatory and a partner.
  • Bring to scale JCP’s scientific research in a digestible manner to a wide audience of users by elevating those local voices that echo the results of field biologists.
  • Involve a variety of local voices such as ranchers, developers, tour guides, local women co-ops, park guards and public opinion makers to tell the story of the Cockscomb Preserve and the myth of the elusive Jaguar in Belize.
  • Elevate the idea that LOCAL ACTION MATTERS, all stakeholders can contribute to the conservation of the jaguar and its forest.
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