The Imact of Captive Facilities in Provision of Conservation Education: A Case ot the Nairobi Safari Walk, Nairobi, Kenya.
Meteti, Joseph Sarara
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Present captive wildlife facilities embrace four .important justifications and objectives for keeping wild animals in captivity: recreation, conservation, education and research. Although critics of captive animal displays agree that captive wildlife facilities add to conservation education they point out that little research has been undertaken to ascertain impact or effectiveness of conservation education within such facilities. Captive wildlife facilities are uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between people and the natural world through the creation of learning experiences that raise awareness of environmental threats and biodiversity loss. This study assessed the impact of Nairobi Safari Walk (NSW) in providing conservation education to tourists. The study further sought to determine the adequacy of the channels used to convey conservation messages, tourists' perceived roles of the facility, the extent to which tourists exited the facility with its key conservation messages and challenges faced in the provision of conservation education. Methodology for data collection involved a case study survey. Structured questionnaires were used to collect data from visiting tourists and NSW staff while semi structured interviews were directed at the KWS top management. A focal sampling method was used to obtain a sample of 365 adult tourists based on the 2005-2009 visitation data, 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error. Chi-squared Test and Pearson correlation were used to find relationships between variables. Results showed that an average of 70% of respondents reported having received the key conservation messages thus indicating success of NSW in communicating its key conservation messages. The extent to which visitors left the NSW with key conservation messages depended on visitors' personal goals. Positive correlation existed between learning and discovery goal and the NSW Actions message (r365=0.20, p<O.Ol level). Significant relationship between respondents number of previous visits to NSW and the extent of exiting with key conservation messages was only found on the "Human Actions" message which had a Chi-squared value of i=8.222, p>0.05. This implies that the number of previous visits to NSW have no impact on the extent of visitors exiting with its key conservation messages. Wild animals and message boards were the most effective conveyors of conservation messages to over 40% of the respondents in NSW. This suggests that NSW is more dependent on passive channels than interactive ones contrary to recommendations by other studies. Majority of visitors perceived conservation education and recreation as the most important roles of NSW. The study also identified that there are a number of challenges that negatively impact NSW's ability to effectively provide conservation education to tourists. They range from budgetary constraints, shortage of trained staff dedicated to conservation education, overemphasis on revenue generation and lack of an educational program and evaluation mechanism. This study recommends that more resources directed at provision of conservation education be provided to NSW, more interactive channels should be employed in conveying conservation messages and a conservation education policy should be enacted to guide the process. This is envisaged to lead to enhanced . conservation message communication and learning thereby enhancing the facility's effectiveness in meeting its conservation education goal.