I apologise for the long pause in posting a blog. I have temporarily left the study site to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Wildlife Conservation Practice offered by the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and funded by the Panthera Foundation. WildCRU is a unit of the Department of Zoology and is led by Professor David Macdonald. The unit is based in Tubney at the Tubney House, located in the countryside of Oxfordshire approximately 16 kilometres outside the Oxford city centre.
The course started on Monday April 27th and will run until November 27th 2009. It is a Master’s level course in wildlife conservation and management for professional conservationists from the developing world and is designed to help participants:
1. Work on practical skills for conservation action;
2. Understand the theory behind the above-mentioned skills;
3. Plan, manage, analyse and appraise their research and conservation actions; and
4. Create lifelong collaborations with other conservationists from other parts of the world.
The course is directed by Prof. Macdonald and is coordinated by Dr. Lucy Tallents. Our senior tutor is Dr. Claudio Sillero and Lynne Larkman is the course administrator. There are seven students from different parts of the world, namely (excluding yours truly):
1. Herizo Adrianandrasana from Madacascar (critically endangered species of Madagascar);
2. Anthony Kasanga from Kenya (lion, Panthera leo);
3. Hemanta Kafley from Nepal (Asiatic rhino, Rhinoceros unicornis, and the Royal Bengal tigers, Panthera tigris tigris);
4. Karma Jigme from Bhutan (different mammalian species, including the Royal Bengal tiger);
5. Godfrey Mtare from Zimbabwe (white rhino Ceratotherium simum, black rhino, Diceros bicornis and lions of the Hwange National Park); and
6. Afredo Romero Muñoz from Bolivia (jaguar, Panthera onca; puma, Puma concolor, Geoffrey’s cat, Leopardus Geoffrey; and ocelots, Leopardus pardalis)
Collectively we are called the WildCRU Panthers, Panthera wildcruensis (I just made that one up!). So far our lessons have gone very well and everyone seems to be on the same page and the camaraderie is high. Everyone is looking forward to a rewarding year.
Next week I will introduce you to Nndzumbeni Tshikalange, who is taking over the Leopard Project while I’m away.
Joining AWF in 2007, Nakedi is the latest addition to AWF's team of species researchers in Africa. Working in the Limpopo region, where he's from, Nakedi's studying the great cats to shape conservation strategies that will benefit communities he's known all his life. Looking at Nakedi's focus areas as a zoologist – Cytogenetics, Molecular Biology, and Geometric Morphometrics – it's easy to see he is serious about conservation. Leopards as a species especially interested him because they are both powerful and elusive – making it a challenge to study and protect them.
AWF Blogs bring you to the African Heartlands, where conservation benefits both wildlife and people alike. The blogs are written by our staff - men and women who have dedicated their lives to Africa's wildlife, people and wild lands.