A new conservation movement aimed at young people is making waves in Uganda. Launched by WildAid in collaboration with Wildlife Clubs of Uganda (WCU), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and Elupe House of Comics and Animation, the Beatrice’s Wildlife Adventure graphic novel programme aims to empower Uganda’s youth to become champions of their natural heritage, and change the way they think about wildlife conservation.
From July to November 2022, the programme reached over 23,000 students at 137 primary and 99 secondary schools across Uganda between the ages of 12 to 15. The initiative recognises that at this age, there is a great opportunity to instill lasting values of respect and stewardship for wildlife and the environment. Children can be important agents of change in their families and communities, meaning that engaging and inspiring young people is vital for the future of wildlife conservation in Africa.
Alongside the graphic novel, educators are equipped with a 44-page manual, outlining 21 interactive activities to captivate and inspire young people in a fun, hands-on way. These activities encourage participants to engage the natural world around them, nurturing a caring and empathetic attitude that will help deliver a sustainable future for wildlife.
The initiative’s impact doesn't just stop at distributing the books, and is more than just fun and games; it has already resulted in real behaviour-change, creating a ripple effect in the minds and actions of students.
After learning with Beatrice:
94% of children said they would say no to plastic or polythene or reduce use,
96% said that they would not eat bushmeat,
94% said that they would share information about conservation with family and friends,
99% said they wanted to find out more about how to help wildlife,
96% of secondary school students said they would report wildlife crime.
In addition, six radio drama episodes based around the novel were broadcast on radio stations around key national parks in Uganda, as well as played in classrooms. A wildlife club patron in Mbarara, in the mid-western region, remarked that “After listening to the radio drama episodes, some students could explain the roles played by insects such as wasps, and reptiles like snakes, that they previously considered as man’s enemy.”
Going forward, the Beatrice’s Wildlife Adventure programme’s focus is on providing more localised, children-centered solutions that tackle wildlife challenges. Additional versions of the materials are being developed for children in Cameroon and Tanzania. The vision is to create an engaging platform that not only makes wildlife clubs more appealing to students, but also inspires a pro-conservation ethic among young people and their communities.