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Feature story

Wild Olympians: using sports to raise public awareness of large carnivores

Overview

Sports are always a good option for raising awareness of large carnivores and rethinking how we deal with conflicts. WWF Ukraine used the Winter Olympics to promote the capabilities of different species such as the wolf and lynx, and developed an online strategy to reach out to the public. 


Story by

Tetiana Karpiuk

Contact

Occupation

Conservation/Nature Parks

Location

Kiew

Province

Kiev, Ukraine


Chapter 1

The idea

In February 2018 the whole world was talking about the Winter Olympics in South Korea. According to Google Trends, this has become one of the most popular sport events for Ukrainians. Based on this knowledge, we decided to use the event for situational marketing, transfer the topic of winter sports to wildlife protection and depict the abilities of different species to raise awareness for their protection and coexistence.

We analyzed disciplines that are of interest to Ukrainians. The most popular of these are the biathlon, skiing, hockey and figure skating, followed by skateboarding, skeleton, snowboarding and jumping. We analyzed the main features of each discipline and chose species that could become the representatives of the selected sports. Thus, the wolf became a talisman for hockey, lynx was chosen for mountain skiing, a polar owl was selected for the biathlon, a bald eagle was used for figure skating, and so forth. The idea was that everyone who identified with one type of sport also gets curious to know more about the dedicated species. 

The Wolf as a Mascot

In Russia the public voted for the Worldcup mascot 2018: a wolf.

Chapter 2

TOOLS

Online marketing with digital content

Online marketing can be a powerful tool to reach people that are difficult to reached otherwise. A separate landing page can help to brand the project and to be found in online searches. Sometimes it helps to address a different topic that is trending and to connect it to the human wildlilfe conflicts or species, e.g. using a big sports event that is of big interest. An online campaign can be another possibility to address certain wildlife topics - one important key is to use the right keywords, appealing pictures and if possible also video material.

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Campaigns

Sports are a very good option for reaching people that usually would not usually be interested in the conservation topic or the species. Sports make it particularly easy to reach million of people. Using animal mascots to make people aware of them is a common approach to address those topics in a more emotional way and allows people to identify with the animals. Aside from major events like the World Cup or the Olympics, it is always possible to cooperate with sports clubs that use large carnivores as mascots or connect the idea of teamplay to conflict resolution matters.

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Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

The « Défi des foulées » is a sport event. The idea is to run in order to raise money for an association. There are challenges to take up all along the campaign and during the final weekend, every 2 kilometers, Natures & Découvertes’ Foundation donates 1€ to an association. In 2017, the CROC and the Centre ATHENAS were the two recipients as Nature & Découvertes wanted to take part and committed to protect the lynx. There were almost 7,000 persons involved in this campaign, who run or walked to protect the lynx and our teams were very motivated by this cause. Email of Vanessa Madrières : vmadrieres@nature-et-decouvertes.com This was a non-binding measure implemented by Nature & Découvertes in the frame of « Défi des foulées » in the whole country in the This was a global French campaign which even took place in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Every Nature & Découvertes’ shop was involved and we also created a microsite on Internet: http://ledefidesfoulees.com/fr/home.. It specifically involved General public. It operated in 2017 and received partial financial support from Nature & Découvertes’ budget for the campaign itself and the Foundation’s funds for the donation to the CROC and the Centre ATHENAS.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Claude KURTZ.

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

NGO working on nature protection/conservation. Communication around a testing project for signage dedicated to the lynx in the accident-prone areas. The reception of the general public was favorable. Preliminary contacts and work meeting were held with Departmental Roads Services to define a road sign project. This was abinding measure implemented by Centre ATHENAS in the frame of Lynx dedicated road signs in a transboundary region in the French Jura Massif (Bourgogne Franche-Comté and Rhône-Alpes regions). It specifically involved Journalists, General public, Administrative staff (government). It operated for 3 years (from 2014 to 2017) and received financial support from Own funds, Private donors.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Alain LAURENT.

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

NGO working on nature protection/conservation/education. Schools. School awareness campaign to present the wolf, its biology, its diet, its life cycle, etc. and to give a clear, fair and unbiased information on this large carnivores. Provision of a “I love wolves” educational kit for teachers including • An exposition • A wolf leaflet for adults “Campaign for the knowledge and the protection of the wolf” • An inter-associative brochure “WOLF, to stop the false truths about pastoralism and hunting” • For each child: A participative flyer I love wolves!”. https://www.aspas-nature.org/campagnes/protection/connaissance-et-protection-des-loups/jaime-les-loups-enfants/ This was a non-binding measure implemented by ASPAS - ASSOCIATION POUR LA PROTECTION DES ANIMAUX SAUVAGES in the frame of Campaign « I love wolves » in the whole country in the France. It specifically involved General public. It operated during 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and operated without any external financial support.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to Marion FARGIER, juriste à l’ASPAS.

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

NGO working on nature protection/conservation/education. Internet page showing on a map : - the areas where reinforced defense fire and shootings are allowed, - the areas of naturally killed wolves, of wolves killed by accident or slaughtered legally and illegally. The aim is to inform the general public about the french policy of the management of the wolf by shooting, and to compile information from the field (presence or absence of herds, level of their protection, etc.) in order to identify the inconsistencies between political decisions of shooting and the field reality. https://www.aspas-nature.org/campagnes/protection/connaissance-et-protection-des-loups/vigiloup-protegez-loups-promenant/ This was a non-binding measure implemented by ASPAS - ASSOCIATION POUR LA PROTECTION DES ANIMAUX SAUVAGES in the frame of Vigiloup: Protect wolves while walking! in the whole country in the France. It specifically involved General public. It operated during 2016, 2017 and operated without any external financial support.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to PEYRET Pierre (vice president / wolf coordinator), DARMSTAEDTER Jean François (president).

Beatrice Jouenne

24.08.2018

NGO working on nature protection/conservation/education. Communication action in areas where wolf is present in France (PACA - Rhône-Alpes). Volunteers supervised by a project manager bring objective information on the wolf to local populations and summer tourists (distribution of booklet on wolf, survey). The idea is to obtain a global and objetcive point of view of the wolf presence acceptance. Volunteers visit every day markets, shops, holiday centers, hotels and restaurants, tourist offices, etc. https://www.ferus.fr https://www.ferus.fr/benevolat/parole-de-loup Other email : contact.ferus@orange.fr This was a non-binding measure implemented by ASSOCIATION FERUS in the frame of Parole de loup in Where wolves are present in France in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and Rhône Alpes regions.. It specifically involved General public. It operated for 5 years (from 2012 to 2017) and received financial support from Own funds, Other sources, Public funds (State) / DREAL Rhône Alpes.Please reply to this post for more information or reach out directly to BOFFY Patrick (vice president / pastoralism coordinator).

Chapter 3

The success

As soon as the competition in one olympic discipline started, a subpage was published a and explained the capacities of its animalistic representative. Icons, pictures and text describe the main biological characteristics of the animal, threats, conservation status, interesting facts, as well as how it is possible to help protect this animal and what projects or programmes (if any) in Ukraine are working to preserve them. When someone started to search for a discipline, Google would automatically lead them to the website.

The eco-educational innovative approach showed good results in terms of promoting ways to talk about species protection and conflict resolution issues. The website with 11 articles was active during the three weeks of the Winter Olympics. We also used social media to spread the news and push the campaign via WWF Ukraine's channels. The total number of views of the campaign materials reached 70,000, plus another 50,000 contacts through social media and media coverage.

This campaign was an experiment, but it worked quite well. After the idea was born, we implemented it in a simple way and reached a lot of people.

 

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Wild Olympians: using sports to raise public awareness of large carnivores

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