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African Manatee Outreach Expands in Gabon

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no wait, it’s a MANATEE!

This past month an expanded West African manatee educational outreach program hit the streets, or more accurately, took to the water for a tour of Banio Lagoon in southern Gabon. My colleague Aimee Sanders, who has designed and produced almost all my manatee educational materials for Africa (posters, educational panels, t-shirts, and we’re working on an educational video), has also developed a fun, interactive educational program for people of all ages to educate them about the importance of protecting manatees. My funding this year also allowed us to create a manatee costume to be used for skits, and it was a big hit with both children and adults when Aimee did her events.
Aimee visited 6 villages and had a total of 84 attendees this time, and she said people were very receptive to the programs. Discussion and skits included information about threats to manatees, their habitat needs, etc.
A boy acts out getting caught in fishing net, a common threat to manatees in Africa
Everyone got manatee coloring/activity books that were developed for my project in French by Save the Manatee Club

 Kids at Yoyo village with their manatee coloring books and the costume

 Even the adults enjoyed the coloring books!

 A little girl “feeds” a manatee toy from the bottle used to feed Victor, the orphan manatee.

Next time we hope to give out the manatee t-shirts we designed and printed this year (logistics have prevented us from getting them to Gabon yet, but we will!) to further inspire people to conserve manatees! We also plan to bring these educational programs to other African countries.  

Thanks to Naomi Parnell for all of the photos above!!

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