Samson Elijah Werikhe, Ph.D., is a 2021 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Beth Kaplin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth McCann, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Martha Monroe, Ph.D., Committee Member


Conservation, Mountain Gorillas, Youth participation, Conservation education, Knowledge, Attitudes, Self-efficacy, Intentions, Pro-environment behavior, Developing countries

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Young people can play a vital role in contributing to protecting natural resources. However, their participation in efforts to support existence of the endangered mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) is relatively new and not well understood. Mountain gorillas are critically endangered and continue to face threats from the local farmers, although several mountain gorilla conservation strategies are under way. This study evaluates the potential of involving young people in the conservation of mountain gorillas by assessing their knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy and intentional behaviors. Attitudinal factors contribute to guiding behavior. Self-efficacy and outcome expectations are beliefs that influence young people’s capability to participate in future conservation activities and, intention is the most immediate and important predictor of behavior. I undertook this study with youth who attended schools near Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda. A survey instrument used multiple choice, categorical, scaled, and open-ended questions. I surveyed 342 students between ages of 15 – 18 from October – December 2013. Of these, 209 were females and 133 males from the five secondary schools near the national park. Results show that young people were aware of the gorillas but do not know much about mountain gorilla conservation. Results indicated limited knowledge about effects of human activities on mountain gorilla conservation, gorilla diseases, suitable habitats for gorillas, total number of mountain gorillas in the world and, the fact that capturing baby gorillas involves massive killing of entire family members. Several facts are only memorized because the students lack the ability to explain or interpret these facts to reflect current or past mountain gorilla conservation issues, trends and practice. They also showed support for conservation of mountain gorillas via their attitudes, self-efficacy and intentions but this support is marred by several situational factors like time, knowledge, families, experience and, park staff/rangers that must be addressed before getting involved in gorilla conservation actions. Suggestions are made to help involve young people around Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the conservation of mountain gorillas.


Samson Werikhe

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0003-0370-2510