Manatee informational posters in French that I created with Aimee Sanders, a graphic design and outreach speacialist working in Gabon, are now printed and ready to be distributed! These posters were created with funding from my USFWS Wildlife Without Borders grant for training and outreach work to help conserve West African manatees. I’m really happy with the way they turned out! The main caption reads (for those of you who don’t speak French): West African Manatees are rare…they need your help to survive! Text boxes on the left side explain that manatees reproduce slowly so hunting increases their risk of extinction, that they need clean water and healthy habitats to survive so please keep waterways clean, and to please tell your friends and family not to hunt manatees or buy or eat manatee meat. The range map on the right side says that manatees are found in rivers, mangroves, lakes and coastal waters of central and west Africa.
Unfortunately since it’s extremely difficult to get good photos of wild manatees in their natural habitat (believe me, I’ve been trying for 3 years!), I had to use photos of Florida manatees, but the species look quite similar and I was careful to use photos of animals in darker water similar to African habitat (although clearer).
Most people have never seen a live manatee and because they are hard to observe, people see them as shrouded in mystery and/or are even afraid of them, so the idea is to give some general information about them, to show some photos to hopefully remove some of the mystery and to raise awareness that they need protection. This poster was purposely designed to be very general because it targets a wide range of audiences, from school children to national park staff, tourists, teachers, resource managers and the general public. It was also designed to be used in multiple Francophone countries to help spread the awareness message as widely as possible. I’ll start giving them out in Gabon and Senegal, and I hope to get them to colleagues working in other countries as well.