Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN) has joined forces with Internews’ Africa Program to launch our latest project focused on boosting coverage of conservation and wildlife issues in East Africa.
This work comes at a time when global biodiversity is facing severe threats from environmental change and degradation and an increase in poaching has allowed the illegal wildlife trade to thrive. These threats are particularly severe in parts of Africa native to species, such as elephants, rhinos and pangolins that are in high demand for their meat or parts.
With that in mind, the project will focus on improving media coverage of conservation issues, including wildlife trafficking and human and wildlife conflicts in East Africa through workshops that build reporting skills, story grants, stipends to support investigative reporting and roundtables for journalists working on investigative features. The project is being supported by a joint grant from the US Department of Interior and the US Agency for International Development.
By supporting journalists in East Africa to produce high-quality solutions-focused stories about conservation and its threats, the project aims to raise awareness about an increasingly critical issue and give citizens, policy-makers and businesses an understanding of what’s needed to protect the region’s species and environment.
“Internews in East Africa is well known for its health, democracy and governance trainings and support to the media. This conservation and wildlife project presents new and topical issues that journalists need to focus on in the region,” said Fatuma Sanbur, senior program officer for Internews’ East and Southern Africa programs.
Reporting workshops will involve local experts and include field trips to places that serve as examples of successful conservation efforts or highlight conflicts and threats facing local ecosystems. Some of the themes to be covered in the trainings and roundtables include the impact of new infrastructure, such as ports and railways, on wildlife and conservation.
As with EJN’s other ongoing projects, the East Africa Wildlife Journalism project will also provide funding and mentorship to selected journalists to produce stories on under-covered conservation and wildlife issues for the local media. Keep an eye on the EJN website and future newsletters for updates and announcements about related opportunities.
As part of this project's second phase, EJN launched the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, partnering with media organizations to support the production of stories and organize regular convenings to build the capacity of East African editors, producers and media leaders to learn more about the importance of biodiversity and encourage the reporters under their charge to cover biodiversity-related issues.
Now in its third phase, journalists in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan and Rwanda will be trained to “follow the money” or conduct financial investigations to help combat illegal wildlife trafficking and other environmental crimes, in collaboration with the Centre for Global Advancement.
Project activities conducted in this phase will include:
- Training workshops for senior investigative editors and journalists in wildlife-rich African countries where environmental crime is rampant. Workshops will include sessions on digital and physical safety.
- Workshop participants will be awarded investigative story grants and receive close mentorship from veteran journalists, media leaders or investigative experts.
- An online workshop between African and Asian journalists to help both groups understand the intricacies of environmental crime, from source to market, with lessons in basic financial investigative techniques.
- Media grants to newsrooms in East Africa to pursue investigative reporting on transnational wildlife crimes, perhaps in collaboration with Asian journalists.
- Editors’ roundtables for editors in Africa and Asia to orient media managers on the use of financial investigative tools.
- Virtual and ongoing training in social media forensics for journalists to understand how social media and messaging platforms are used to traffic wildlife.
These activities aim to improve journalists’ knowledge and skills, to equip East African media to hold governments and the judiciary system to account for failure to protect nature.