Call for Reporting Grant Applications: Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation Solutions in East Africa

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InfoNile invites journalists in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan to submit proposals for in-depth investigative multimedia journalism stories on wildlife trafficking and conservation. These stories are part of a series of stories and will feed into a final data journalism project including interactive maps and stories. 

While national parks and private conservancies in East Africa have served to protect large numbers of threatened species, the population of these species continues to decrease precipitously. Wildlife habitat decline, wildlife trafficking and poaching are major threats to the region’s wildlife and to local people who depend on wildlife and natural ecosystems for their livelihoods. The international wildlife trade, the bushmeat trade and human encroachment on wildlife habitats is also linked to the rise of new diseases: The COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world is said to have originated from wildlife sales in a Chinese market, and the deadly SARS, MERS and HIV/AIDS viruses are all linked to human-animal contact.

Governments and conservationists are struggling to develop approaches to protect East Africa’s spectacular natural heritage and reduce the potential for new health threats due to wildlife trade and habitat destruction.

But there are many local solutions. For instance, in Uganda, the African Crane Conservation Project is using information technology to monitor and conserve the Grey Crowned Cranes. In Kenya, WildlifeDirect spearheaded by Dr. Paula Kahumbu is creating a generation of wildlife warriors. Across the region, the creation of community conservancies such as Tanzania’s new Wildlife Management Areas has not only increased community participation in wildlife conservation, but also improved community livelihoods through providing benefits such as tourism profits, common markets for livestock, and access to life-giving water supplies.  

Both the extent of the problem and these working initiatives are little-known, and thus effective solutions exist in silos.

We want you to:

  1. Uncover critical stories about wildlife habitat decline, wildlife trafficking and effective responses and solutions to these problems in East Africa. 
  2. Relate the environmental and livelihoods impact to the public health impact.
  3. Communicate these stories through innovative digital multimedia storytelling formats including interactive maps and data visualizations. 
  4. Connect the science, research and data to the reality of the wildlife trafficking and conservation efforts being made in your country. 

You can choose to propose EITHER:

An investigation into wildlife trafficking in your country: the drivers, systems and players, and why the problem is persisting


An in-depth feature highlighting an innovative solution to wildlife trafficking and/or wildlife conservation in your country

Possible questions to answer in your story: 

  • What is the extent of wildlife trafficking in your country, and why is the problem persisting? Who are the drivers, facilitators and beneficiaries of trafficking networks? 
  • How is wildlife habitat decline and wildlife trafficking affecting wildlife in your country? 
  • Why does conserving wildlife matter to the people, environment, economy and politics of your country? 
  • In light of COVID-19, how does wildlife trafficking, trade and habitat destruction affect the rise of disease – for instance in Africa and Asia where much of the trade is centered? What are the threats to public health, and how has wildlife trade led to the spread of disease? 
  • How can we prevent the rise of a new pandemic related to contact between wildlife and humans? 
  • Which local initiatives and cutting-edge technologies are helping to fight wildlife habitat decline and/or wildlife trafficking? 
  • How are wildlife and the local population benefiting from these solutions? 
  • Which data or other evidence can you find that proves that the problem is happening, and/or impact of these solutions? 
  • Which are other potential solutions to be learned from that are being implemented in other areas of the world?

Integration of Data: Your story pitch should contain a plan to integrate data analysis and visualization of wildlife conservation issues on different sectors or topics relevant to your story; i.e. trafficking networks, disease outbreaks, declines in wildlife species, habitats, human pressures, degradation, protected areas, conflict with local communities, government policies, etc. “Geo-coded” or geographical data is the most preferred, since we will use it to create interactive maps and visualizations. However, please feel free to integrate any other sources of credible data.

The output should be an in-depth multimedia story incorporating text, video, photography, audio and data visualization/mapping. Please see these examples of our past stories to get an idea of the kind of multimedia stories we envision: Sucked DryThe Dark Side of Sudan’s OilSwamp City#SavingSwamps in East Africa (4 stories)

The top 15 applicants will be invited to a special online training on Data Journalism and Effective Wildlife Reporting.

Please note that if you receive the grant, you will get technical support with designing graphics, data visualization and mapping. However, you will be required to shoot video footage and interviews. If you do not have that expertise, please propose a videographer you can travel with who can collect footage.

Stories can be published in other languages but should also be translated into English.

This project is supported with funding from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

InfoNile is a collaborative cross-border group of environmental “geo” journalists with a mission to uncover critical stories on water issues in the Nile River Basin of Africa through data-based multimedia storytelling. We work on investigative multimedia data journalism projects on critical issues of water and environment across the Nile Basin. Past investigations have included issues of land grabs across the Basin, community-based solutions to wetland destruction in East Africa, and the environmental and health impacts of Sudan’s oil and gas industry. 

How to Apply for the Grant: 
Please submit the following to not later than 15th April, 2020:

-A one page proposal outlining your story idea. Proposals should be clearly structured, stating briefly at the outset what the story idea is, followed by how and where the story will be researched, what it aims to reveal or contribute, where you will publish (specific media organizations), and the intended impact of the story. The proposal should also include a plan for incorporating data. Please note how you will use multimedia (video, photos, audio, and graphics along with text). You should also include:

-A  moderate proposed budget of no more than $400

-A resumé/CV;

-Two samples of published/broadcast work. Links to the published stories are also accepted.

-Letter of support from your editor, stating that your media house/s will publish / telecast / broadcast your story.

NOTE ON COVID-19: Please note that we will be proceeding with awarding these grants. However, we will work with selected journalists individually to assist in safe ways of reporting and adapting projects during the ongoing pandemic.

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