North Carolina Zoo and Conservation Efforts on a Global Scale
The North Carolina Zoo's conservation work goes far beyond the Zoo's 2,600 acres of land in North Carolina. The Zoo's UNITE for the Environment program worked with teachers in Uganda, a small country located in east Africa. Within Uganda lies Kibale National Park, which is home to the highest diversity of primate species in the world, including the endangered Ashy red colobus monkey and chimpanzees. These critical species face deforestation as the communities around Kibale National Park have grown significantly, creating a greater need for wood for cooking food.
In 2016, UNITE focused its efforts on reducing the amount of wood cut down from the local forest by the local communities around Kibale National Park. The stoves used by the local people cooked slowly, produced a lot of smoke, lost heat, and most importantly, required a lot of wood. UNITE worked with 120 teachers from 12 schools in the communities to teach them how to build fuel-efficient stoves that required less wood. "Teacher trainings have the potential to influence a large number of people over an extended period," said the North Carolina Zoo's Curator of Conservation and Research, Dr. Corinne Kendall.
The teachers built over 600 fuel-efficient stoves throughout their communities over four years after the training program. The stoves were constructed at the homes of teachers, local leaders, and other community members, as well as at the schools. UNITE staff continued to support the teachers and students by helping troubleshoot construction issues and stove maintenance.
The Zoo's UNITE program's community-focused grassroots approach led to high adoption rates for fuel-efficient stoves compared to previous efforts by other groups in the area.
Last year, the Zoo conducted a study to see how well the fuel-efficient stoves were operating, hoping that the stoves would be using less wood than the previous traditional stoves. The fuel-efficient stoves proved to use less wood, even after several years of use.
Fuel-efficient stoves were built at an average of 150 stoves a year, even several years after the initial training program, which will positively impact and help protect Kibale National Park's forests and the wildlife that live there. "Sustained behavior change is critical for great ape conservation," said Kendall.
Please find out more information about the fuel-efficient stove project initiative in the North Carolina Zoo’s blog post and read the original findings published in the American Journal of Primatology.
Images below: Students constructing a fuel efficient stove and a finished stove