New education resource for citizenship teachers could help British schoolchildren protect great apes from extinction

28 September 2004 General News

The free pack is being launched as a new survey, commissioned by IFAW, shows that almost 60% of British 13-year-olds feel they are not taught enough in schools about endangered species.

The survey also reveals a worryingly low level of awareness about the issue, with only 23%, for example, knowing that the chimpanzee is endangered. Another recent survey by Community Service Volunteers showed that while a huge majority of teachers and pupils enjoy citizenship classes, teachers still need more help with the subject two years after it was made compulsory. Most teachers also feel children need more opportunities to try out citizenship activities at school.

IFAW's Wildlife Trade campaigner Jenny Hawley said: "The fate of highly endangered species such as great apes and forest elephants will be decided within the next decade. It really lies in the hands of today's young people. We hope this pack will prove a practical and informative tool for teachers, as well as spurring children into educating their friends and families about this huge environmental crisis. Each of us needs to know about the very real steps that can be taken right here in the UK to help avert it, such as only buying wood from certified environmentally-friendly sources."

The pack, which gives an in-depth overview of the global trade in wildlife in general, touches on nature conservation, animal welfare, human traditions and development, before focussing more specifically on the bushmeat trade and its legal context. It contains a 12-minute film available on video or CD-ROM, a wide range of activities, photocopiable student notes, quizzes, discussion points and ICT links, plus homework ideas and assessment pointers for teachers. Specially-adapted versions of the pack will soon also be available for use in schools across Africa, where IFAW hopes it will contribute to awareness raising among the potential bushmeat consumers of tomorrow.

Notes to editors:

1) Bushmeat hunting has reached dangerously unsustainable levels in the past decade, largely due to the opening up of the world's previously pristine forests by logging and mining companies, many of them European. It is a particular problem in Central and Western Africa, where endangered species including our closest animal relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, are being pushed towards extinction at an alarming rate.
2) Traditionally a rural subsistence food, bushmeat has now become an urban status symbol, with city diners in the region prepared to pay up to £60 for a dish of monkey or elephant trunk - despite the fact that meat from domesticated animals is often available at a fraction of the price.
3) The great majority of bushmeat comes from species that are not currently endangered, such as cane rats, giant snails and small antelopes. However, larger animals such as apes and elephants reproduce much more slowly and cannot withstand even limited amounts of hunting.
4) While people in the Congo Basin eat up to five million tonnes of bushmeat per year, significant quantities of the meat are also illegally smuggled internationally to cities with large Central or West African communities, including London and Brussels.
5) All bushmeat, but particularly the meat of our closest animal cousins, the apes, also poses a serious global health risk. The handling and consumption of such meat has been strongly implicated in devastating diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Ebola 'jumping the species barrier' to humans.
6) Aside from its impact on endangered species, the commercial bushmeat trade is also rapidly wiping out the traditional protein source for huge numbers of people in forest-dwelling communities, such as the Pygmies of Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To obtain copies of the pack for review, or for pictures or more information on IFAW's bushmeat campaign, please contact Claire Wallerstein on: 020-75876702 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Teachers wishing to obtain a copy of the pack should call IFAW on: 020-75876700, visit or write to Bushmeat Pack, IFAW, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UD.

You can download the pack for free at the IFAW web site

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