Bloggers in the Mist

by Roger Alford

There is an amazing story posted over at Harvard Law School’s Global Voices about how park rangers in the Congo are partnering with elementary school children in Colorado Springs, Colorado to raise money and awareness to protect endangered gorillas from poachers. The rangers blog about their experiences and the children sell pickles (50 cents each) as part of their “Pickles for Primates” campaign to pay for the park ranger’s $250 monthly salary, housing, and benefits. Quite an amazing story about how blogging is highlighting issues neglected by the mass media and providing opportunities for unusual partnerships like never before.

Here is a posted exchange between Joseph Aloma, a Congolese park ranger, and Dominique, a student at Stratton Elementary School:

Dear Aloma, You are the greatest man in Congo I know!I am glad you help the gorllias they need a lot of help and you and the other rangers can do that WELL! Me and my class love listening to Africa music it is so cooler than my music here. My school and my family are right behind you. Your FRIEND, dominique

Thank you so much Dominique, Stratton Elementary is the greatest school I know! The gorillas do need our help, and the great thing about this blog is that now together we can give them that help. What other types of music do you like listening to apart from African music? It is great to know that your support will always be there. To everyone at Stratton Elementary, I want to say that I am very happy to receive the messages that you have sent me. Strong courage for all the work that you are doing to help us. I am always with you and I sincerely thank you for all that you are doing. Stratton Elementary, you are the best. Joseph Aloma

This is part of a larger project called Wildlife Direct, which represents a remarkably successful story of blending technology with conservation. As reported here:

Through the website that contains blogs and video from the rangers on the ground, … they hope to build a community, disseminate the word and raise money to help the conservationists…. It’s real simple. We’re not trying to raise millions from top donors … [w]e’re trying to raise $10 for a pair of shoes for the rangers. It’s the little things that are making a difference. We know we can’t save the world, but we can do little things in bits and pieces. When you give these guys batteries, they are so happy because now they can patrol at night. Visitors to the website can choose from a number of blogs from rangers in the field on several different topics and watch video depicting the rangers’ work or the gorillas in their natural habitat. Visitors can also donate money earmarked for specific items such as a daily patrol ration of food for five rangers for $15, boots for $35 or a housing supplement for $50. The list of needs is long, and 100 percent of the money donated goes toward what the donor requests…. One month after the site launched, $20,000 was raised, more than 600 comments and messages from the public were received and approximately 300 articles were written in the international media about the Wildlife Direct’s endeavors…. Today, nearly three months after its launch, close to $60,000 has been raised through the site…. Wildlife Direct has an impact because there is a buildup of thousands and thousands of participants that want to know more. …It’s amazing we have this opportunity to transform things so radically in such a fundamental way. Everybody is thrilled and optimistic, and it’s bringing us into this incredible global village.

If your school wants to become a “Gorilla Conservation Associate” and partner with park rangers to fight gorilla poachers in the Congo, you can find details here. It will cost you less than $250 a month to support one park ranger.

2 Responses

  1. Roger, very many thanks indeed for your kind post. It is a huge source of encouragement for us to get that kind of feedback. Emmanuel (WildlifeDirect)

  2. Very impressive. Keep up the good work!

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