Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Friday 20 September 2013

Listening leads to the right intervention

COMACO is a recipient of the Equator Prize. The award has a database with case studies of all its winning projects. Even when a few are accompanied by a video, they are not easy to read. Telling their success story could help. In four parts (beginning, middle, climax, end) the story of COMACO could be as follows:

Strategic Story Elements
Target audience: other conservationists 
Key point: when you listen to poachers you find out the motives for current and desired behaviour, you then can help the people and by helping them, you help wildlife.
Conflict: poachers 
Hero: conservationist Dale Louis 
Adversary: poachers and our own ignorance about the reasons for poaching. 

The hot beautiful Zambia Luanga River Valley houses an amazing diversity of wildlife, especially elephants, hippos, crocodiles, zebras, wildebeest and other large animals. It has been so for ages. 

But as time goes by and with a growing population the pressures on nature and wildlife increased. The areas became rife with poachers that threatened the natural world more and more. Dale Louis of Wildlife Conservation Society, a passionate blond conservation biologist tried everything in his power to stop these negative trends of illegal hunting. For many years he and his devoted team of rangers tried to enforce the law by patroling the enormous area and trying to catch the wicked poachers. But somehow - as if the devil played with it - they alsmost always came too late. 

One day far out in the field, waiting in an ambush, he suddenly realized that so far they had been trying to outsmart the poacher, without any success: “We never got out of our cars to talk to them, question them, who they were and why they poached.” He and his colleagues decided to do just that and entered villages and the small and simple homes of the people. What they found out was that the men were poaching because they and their families were starving. So Dale and his colleagues decided that to help the animals they had to help the people. They started Community Marketing for Conservation to transform poachers into farmers. 

Poachers trade guns for new skills, seeds and a guaranteed income from their farming. Now after a few years the elephants, wildebeest, crocodiles and other species are recovering. Communities are not anymore starving but living from farming with the help of the cooperative. 

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