In a world where audiences are bombarded with media messages on a daily basis, conservation non-profits are faced with the immense challenge of keeping people emotionally and intellectually connected to conservation. In response, Peace Parks Foundation is introducing a fresh way to share conservation stories, and giving worldwide viewers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the heart of southern Africa’s wild spaces – through a brand new online video channel.
Since the dawn of the Internet-age, the conservation industry has leveraged online storytelling, photographs
and especially filmmaking to build awareness of the importance of conserving our planet’s resources and
bringing the global audience closer to nature across continents.
But COVID-19 has dramatically increased online media ‘noise’ and multi-industry competition for screen time. Travel restrictions have had a devastating impact on tourism, not only cutting off the lifeblood of communities who live and work in and around conservation areas, but also forcing a physical and mental distance between Africa and the rest of the world. This poses significant obstacles to fund-raising and investment in conservation.
In the current environment, the only way to bridge this divide is to find new ways of harnessing digital channels that will allow non-profits to establish a voice that can be heard above the sensationalist and
otherwise highly paid-for media clamour.
It is with this spirit of innovation that Peace Parks Foundation has taken a giant leap forward in its online
communication strategy, with the launch of its unique video platform, Peace Parks TV (www.peaceparks.tv). Developed after careful consultation with local and international communication experts, Peace Parks TV gives viewers unprecedented insight into the challenges, adventures and highlights of the conservation work executed by Peace Parks and its partners on the ground.
In contrast to manicured, high-budget video productions, the Peace Parks TV website features daily footage
captured first-hand by the field staff and other role players who work to realise the dream of restoring
southern Africa’s transfrontier wildernesses to the benefit of all.
“Conservation – and the way people engage with conservation content – constantly requires new approaches. Peace Parks TV was developed with the intent of transforming the conservation narrative,” explains Peace Parks Foundation CEO Werner Myburgh.
“The objective is to give viewers an authentic and informative view of the extraordinary work done by the
men and women in the protected areas where we operate. People from around the world can now gain an in-depth understanding of our conservation efforts from an on-the-ground perspective.”
A novel production line
Videos on the channel are sent by mobile messaging services from some of the planet’s most remote locations. In order to share their stories, teams creatively bridge connectivity challenges by, for example, asking pilots to take their phones along on early morning flights in the hopes of catching signal from nearby cell towers. These clips are then put through a basic editing process and uploaded to the website for viewers to enjoy.
Along with daily updates, viewers have free access to a wide variety of content covering every aspect of Peace Parks Foundation’s work. This includes key conservation activities such as animal translocations and anti-poaching efforts; interviews with conservationists, rangers, community members, partners, and donors; and tourism development initiatives. There is never a dull moment when nature is your office, and videos of memorable encounters with wild animals have particularly captivated social media audiences, with some
reaching over 10 000 views in the first few hours of release.
“Peace Parks TV reveals how the Foundation, along with its many public and private sector partners and donors, is changing the conservation landscape in southern Africa. As envisioned by the Foundation’s founders Nelson Mandela, Dr Anton Rupert and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Peace Parks concept is seeing communities benefit from conservation efforts, while fostering cross-border collaboration and preserving and restoring the region’s remarkable wilderness areas,” Myburgh says.
A translocation like never seen before
In the spirit of connecting the audience with real-life conservation on the ground, the Peace Parks TV channel is running Elephant Week from 28 June – 4 July, with a specific focus on the highly-complex process of relocating elephants.
Tune in to join the adventure of 37 elephants as they are moved from an unprotected area outside the Maputo Special Reserve – where they were competing for natural resources with communities sharing the same landscape – to the protected, resource-rich ecosystem of Zinave National Park.
Every step of the translocation process is covered, from the months of preparation to the capture of the elephants, their transportation, and safe release. This is merely the first of many such opportunities for
audiences to peek behind the curtain of the adrenalin-pumping, heart-wrenching, inspiring and life-changing
work being done at the conservation frontlines.
“Elephant Week is a testament to the overarching goal of Peace Parks TV. We want viewers to become engrossed in our stories and be inspired by the experiences of wildlife, communities and conservationists.We hope that people will engage with us, share our stories and ultimately work with us. It is only through collaboration that we can truly turn things around for our planet,” Myburgh concludes.