HWC and IWT are risks that decrease biodiversity, human livelihood and increase zoonotic diseases and One-health related threats. WAP, a nationwide program seeks to mitigate these through collaborative environmental and One Health Education.
Institution: Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic
Thematic Focus: Environmental education
Execution status: ejecutado
Keywords: Wildlife Ambassador Program, One Health, Environmental education, zoonotic disease, Illegal Wildlife Traffic, Human Wildlife Conflict, Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic
Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and Illegal Wildlife Traffic (IWT) are global risks that decrease biodiversity, decrease human livelihood and increase the likelihood and incidence of zoonotic diseases and other One-health related threats. The only means of approaching these issues is through a One-Health approach, taking into consideration the health of animals, humans and of the evironment. The Belize Wildlife & Referral Clinic (BWRC) does wildlife rescue, veterinary and rehabilitation for all wildlife species in Belize. We have seen a similiar pattern of incidence in our wildlife intakes being almost 70% all victims of direct or indirect human incidence, namely HWC and IWT. Hence, we have taken education as a tool to combat lack of knowledge of wildlife and the effect we have on each other. A sucessful approach to this is teaching that our health is related to animal health and that if they get sick or unhealthy, it effects us too. The Wildlife Abassador Program is a nation wide (Belize) program that seeks to mitigate the effects of HWC and IWT through a collaborative and integrated aproach to environmental and One Health Education. We teach almost 15 hours of lectures in IWT, HWC, wildlife legislation, One Health and Zoonoses, Wildlife Identification, safe handling and emergency response.
The first phase of the Wildlife Ambassador Program (WAP) being August 2021 to present funded by GEF-SGP and GIZ Selva Maya was a resounding success needing scaling. 6% of the Belize Police Force as well as NGO partners, Indigenous people and students nationwide were included and the One Health approach helped to achieve 97% of 350 trainees to sign the Code of Ethics. The social media campaigns reached ~200.000 in 20 months also leading to a strong increase in intake of relinquished/confiscated illegal wildlife (94 tracked interventions) and countless other wildlife emergencies due to increased awareness. The first national conference was held and attended by our minister of Sustainable developement, police leaders, community ambassadors and NGO representatives. Certified ambassadors have requested further specific training and further initial training is necessary for more members of enforcement, NGOs and Civil society (targeting also teachers, tour guides, students, women's groups and again indigenous communities) and so the project needs to be scaled in the years to come.