How to write about conservation online in effective ways is something I’d like to explore in several blog posts.
To fully have an impact, this content needs to engage the audience beyond clicking on cute baby elephant videos or posting ‘wow’ emoticons to emergency rescue appeals.
Generally, the best way to affect change on an issue is to inform and educate the public around facts. However, it can sometimes be a challenge to be heard among the noise caused by sensationalism and content devised to trigger strong emotional reactions.
The antidote, I think, is real old-fashioned quality storytelling using our new technologies on social media. Stories that bring us closer to the people on the ground — so that we can really ‘meet,’ and relate to them — can inspire learning and action.
Here’s an excerpt from my new book ‘On the road to elephants,’ where I take a moment to talk about my intention for the book, and this particular pet peeve:
“For one, I wanted to share some elephant joy. But I also wanted process some of the thoughts and debate around elephant conservation. I wanted to shed some more light on the fact that conservation can be a complex issue. I also wanted to encourage a little more open-mindedness and less judgmental attitudes.
After a few trips to the bush, I’m definitely not an expert on conservation or elephant management … But I think we can safely say that I’m an elephant appreciator of note. And as someone who cares, I think it’s important that we educate ourselves about what’s actually needed to safeguard these elephants – if we are going to weigh in on the debate.
It seems that often the harshest words and opinions are fired off by people who don’t have a clue about conservation, or what’s happening on the ground in Africa. Nevertheless, it’s often those loud and emotional opinions that direct the global debate. They influence what legal measures are taken, and how international aid is spent. Those developments, in turn, impact what happens at the grassroots level. …”
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