A few kilometres from Ifakara town, Isidory Matandula, is outside their local radio station practicing how to use a smartphone to film biodiversity content.

Unlike in normal usage of his smartphone, Isidory, the Chief Editor of Pambazuko FM, is filming details of a small maize farm near their radio station for a story. The farm he is filming is one of the few in town that has been planted with trees to conserve the area.

Pambazuko FM, where Isidory and his three other fellow trainees are working, is one of the eight local media located near or along three wildlife corridors of Nyerere Selous-Udzungwa, Kwakuchinja and Amani-Nilo that are currently undergoing digital transformation mentorship by Nukta Africa.

The training and mentorship program to report quality biodiversity conservation stories is funded by the American People through USAID Tuhifadhi Maliasili Activity.

This biodiversity reporting project for 15 local media began last August and will end in July 2024, benefiting 45 journalists and producers and 15 editors.

Other seven local media under digital transformation mentorship are Babati-based Manyara FM, Orkenerei FM in Simanjiro, Arusha Press Club Blog. Others are Korogwe FM, Pangani FM, Coast Region Press Club Blog and Radio Ukweli FM in Morogoro.

At Pambazuko FM, journalists and editors from Ifakara-based local radio have been trained and mentored on how to build a strong digital desk for biodiversity content, establish cloud database of biodiversity sources and ways to engage audiences online. They have also learned social media management, investigative journalism and data journalism application in biodiversity conservation.

With training and mentorship from Nukta Africa’s mentors, Pambazuko FM has aired at least 10 stories on biodiversity conservation in their radio station and is now determined to publish more such content online.

Isidory said they have established an online TV channel on YouTube dubbed Pambazuko TV where it has started publishing biodiversity content and they are now busy updating their social media pages. The team is formalising all digital platforms and Nukta Africa is developing their first news website as part of the project activities.

The team has made promo videos featuring Isidory and other mentees inviting their audience and sources to follow and engage their digital platforms or share story tips including biodiversity stories.

Kilombero district, where Pambazuko FM is based, is one of the areas in Tanzania rich in biodiversity as it hosts Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Kilombero Game Reserve and dozens of forest reserves.

The district is also a home to a wildlife corridor called Nyerere Selous — Udzungwa where the government in partnership with conservation stakeholders such as STEP and Reforest Africa have worked hard to remove human activities and restore the area.

“This training and mentorship is very good and it has come at the right time. Our task is to produce more multimedia biodiversity content for radio and our digital platforms…our audience will really love the transformation,” Katalina Liombechi, Pambazuko FM journalist said after a two-day in-person training session held at their radio station. The session was facilitated by Nukta Africa’s Chief Executive Officer, Nuzulack Dausen.

Dausen said Pambazuko FM has the power to influence its audience on biodiversity conservation because it is one of the most trusted local media in Morogoro. The radio station has been broadcasting in the area for more than 15 years.

“The management and trainees have shown great commitment on biodiversity conservation reporting and digital transformation…if this interest continues, it will help influence positive behavior of the public in protecting biodiversity,” Dausen said.