An Educational Outreach Strategy for Freshwater Dolphin Conservation: Measuring the Results
Mansur, E. F.;Akhtar, F.;Smith, B. D.
The Shushuk Mela, a month-long boat-based dolphin exhibition aiming to share information about threatened freshwater dolphins and their conservation, and engage local communities in discussions about sustainable livelihoods and environmental changes, reached over 54,000 visitors from villages bordering the Sundarbans between 2011-2014. Results from yearly interview surveys documenting changes in knowledge and attitude indicated an increase from 65 per cent to 100 per cent in the awareness of the presence of dolphins, an increase from 34 per cent to 77 per cent in knowledge that dolphins are air-breathing mammals, an increase from 17 per cent to 54 per cent in awareness about existing laws protecting freshwater dolphins, a decrease from 23 per cent to 0 per cent in attributing blame for declining fisheries to freshwater dolphins, and an increase from 83 per cent to 98 per cent among fisherfolk indicating their willingness to cut their nets to save entangled dolphins. These interview surveys demonstrate the value of our educational outreach efforts in changing the knowledge and attitudes of local communities.

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