Implement multimedia campaigns using theatre, film, print media, discussions

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two before-and-after studies in Belize found that black howler monkey numbers increased by 61-138% over 3–13 years after the implementation of a multimedia campaign or the opening of a museum for wildlife education, alongside other interventions.
  • Two before-and-after studies in Brazil and Colombia found that the implementation of education programs focusing on tamarins improved attitudes towards- and knowledge about tamarins.
  • One study in the Republic of Congo found that large numbers of people were informed about lowland gorillas through multimedia campaigns using theatre and film.
  • One before-and-after study in Madagascar found that poaching of diademed sifakas and black and white ruffed lemurs appeared to have ceased after the distribution of conservation books in local primary schools.
  • One before-and-after study in India found that numbers of hoolock gibbons increased by 66% over five years after the implementation of an education and awareness programme, alongside other interventions.
  • One before-and-after study in four African countries found that the level of knowledge about primates of visitors to a sanctuary housing guenons, mangabeys, chimpanzees and bonobos increased after the implementation of an education programme.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A before-and-after study in 1992-1994 in tropical forest in Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize found that a population of wild black howler monkeys Alouatta pigra translocated into an area where the local human community was educated about this project by multimedia campaigns alongside other interventions, increased by 61% over three years. The black howler population increased from 62 in 1994 to >100 individuals in 1997. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this increase was significant. One-month-, 6-month-, 1-year, and 2-year survival rates for the different cohorts released in the dry seasons of 1992, 1993, and 1994, was 81-100%. Birth rate was 20% (n=12) and infant survival rate was 75% (n=9). Education campaigns used TV, radio, print media, lectures and discussions. Entire howler social groups were reintroduced together, and ten of the 14 groups were held in cages for 1-3 days before release with a distance of 700-1000 m to the neighbouring troop. All individuals were individually and permanently marked, and adults were fitted with radio-collars. Hunting was largely controlled in the sanctuary since its establishment. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A controlled, before-and-after-trial in 1988-1994 in subtropical forest at Morro do Diabo State Park, São Paulo, Brazil found that an environmental education programme led to an improvement in student attitudes towards- and knowledge about black lion tamarin Leontopithecus chrysopygus. The average student test score increased from 74% before treatment to 92% after treatment. Control groups that were not exposed to the programme scored 73% before and 76% after treatment. From a total of 144 students aged 10-14 years, 70 were assigned to experimental- and 74 to control groups. Experimental groups were given a slide show about the park, its value, ecological concepts and how to identify plant and animal species. They were then taken on a guided visit to the state park. The attitudes and knowledge of both groups were measured before, directly after and one month after the experimental groups’ visit to the park. Changes in knowledge of ecological concepts and attitude towards nature were measured using questionnaires. No data were provided on the impact of the education campaign on the species’ conservation.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A before-and-after study in 1985-1998 in secondary forest in the Community Baboon Sanctuary, Belize found that after creating a sanctuary museum for wildlife education purposes along with eleven other interventions, the sanctuary’s black howler monkey Alouatta pigra population increased by 138% over 13 years. The population increased from 840 to more than 2,000 individuals, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether this difference was significant. Additional interventions included the protection of the sanctuary by the surrounding communities, preserving forest buffer strips along property boundaries and a forest corridor along the river, constructing pole bridges over man-made gaps, involving local communities in the management of the sanctuary, preserving important howler food trees in large clearings, an eco-tourism and research programme, presence of permanent staff, and monetary (income from employment, tourism and craft industries) and non-monetary (e.g. better education) benefits to local communities for sustainably managing their forest and its wildlife communities. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A study in 2008 in communities surrounding the Lésio-Louna Wildlife Reserve, Republic of Congo reported that through multimedia campaigns using theatre and film, a large audience of people was informed about lowland gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla protection laws and their status of protection. Conservation awareness programmes in nine schools reached nearly 1,000 students and trained 300 police officers via films and theatre plays addressing protection laws regarding great apes among other species. An awareness campaign at the Rural Development Institute was attended by 63 students. Also, nearly 1,300 people visited an exhibition about threats facing great apes; 770 students of primary schools were given a guided tour. Sixty people attended the conference of lawyers which addressed wildlife law enforcement issues in Central Africa. No statistical tests were carried out to determine whether there was a significant change of awareness towards primate conservation before and after the intervention was implemented. Regularly broadcasted national radio announcements and films reached a large audience of people and informing them about gorilla conservation needs and current conservation actions. No data were provided on the impact of the education campaign on the species’ conservation.

    Study and other actions tested
  5. A before-and-after trial in 2006-2007 in subtropical forest in Analamazaotra Special Reserve, Madagascar found that after the distribution of conservation-based activity books at two primary schools close to the reserve, poaching of diademed sifakas Propithecus diadema and black and white ruffed lemurs Varecia variegata editorum appeared to have ceased. Both species were hunted to extinction in the past and reintroduced into the reserve. Furthermore, two black and white ruffed lemurs were presumably poached before the project had been launched. A total of 350 activity books for pupils and 22 teacher guides were distributed. No further details were provided.

    Study and other actions tested
  6. A before-and-after trial in 2010 in Los Limites, northern Colombia found that an education programme using print media, led to an increase in knowledge about cotton-top tamarin Saguinus oedipus identification, understanding of its limited distribution in Colombia and its main threats. The programme resulted in an 81% increase in knowledge about species identification, 77% about its distribution and 65% about threats to cotton-top tamarin survival, although no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether these differences were significant. An evaluation tool was used to test approximately 3,000 students from 15 schools before and after the programme. The programme, run in collaboration with Baranquilla Zoo, used a series of classroom workbooks that focused on the cotton-top tamarin and its habitat.

    Study and other actions tested
  7. A before-and-after trial in 2004-2009 in tropical forest in the Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in Assam, India found that hoolock gibbons Hoolock hoolock increased by 66% over five years after implementing an education and awareness programme along with other interventions. The gibbon population increased from 64 individuals in 17 groups in 2004 to 106 individuals in 26 groups (and five solitary males) in 2009. Also, canopy cover increased by 3.5% and degraded forest decreased by 4.1%. However, no statistical tests were carried out to determine whether these differences were significant. The programme reached a total of 33,425 students from primary to college-level within Assam and other northeastern states. Two published books on hoolock gibbons provided the basis for the education programme. In addition, families within local communities that were selected through socio-economic studies were provided with more efficient stoves, bio-gas plants, handlooms and domestic ducks as farm animals in order to improve economic conditions. Local communities also received alternative income-generation through training in mushroom cultivation, honeybee keeping and duck husbandry. Training, monitoring and legal orientation programmes were also carried out for the sanctuary staff. The study does not distinguish between the effects of the different interventions mentioned above.

    Study and other actions tested
  8. A before-and-after study that evaluated education programmes implemented by five primate sanctuaries housing guenons Cercopithecus erythrogaster and mangabeys Cercopithecus sp. (Cercopan in Nigeria), chimpanzees Pan troglodytes (HELP-Congo and Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Uganda), and bonobos Pan paniscus (Lola ya Bonobo in the Democratic Republic of Congo) found that participants had increased knowledge of primates. Nearly three-quarters (74%) of participants were able to answer the questions correctly after participating in the programme. Furthermore, an increase in the proportion of individuals that correctly answered a question (‘performance’) (effect size measured by Cohen’s h >0.78) could be observed across all but one programme content category. The largest increase in performance was observed in community adults and the best overall programme performance in secondary school pupils. Questions to evaluate the education programme that were individually designed by each sanctuary were separated into one of five content categories addressing basic biological knowledge, threats and conservation actions.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Junker, J., Kühl, H.S., Orth, L., Smith, R.K., Petrovan, S.O. & Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Primate Conservation. Pages 431-482 in: W.J. Sutherland, L.V. Dicks, S.O. Petrovan & R.K. Smith (eds) What Works in Conservation 2020. Open Book Publishers, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Primate Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Primate Conservation
Primate Conservation

Primate Conservation - Published 2017

Primate Synopsis

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What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

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