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AWF Leadership Training Update - Changing the Future of Africa

  • Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Given poverty levels and overly stretched public budgets, and growing pressures on wildlife throughout Africa, the need for continued support for wildlife education and training initiatives is perhaps greater today than ever. And so, AWF continues its strong tradition in this area. This work is perhaps best exemplified by AWF's Charlotte Fellowship Program.

Established in 1996, the program honors the life and work of staunch conservationist and AWF friend - Charlotte Kidder Ramsay. The program was established to provide financial assistance for master's or doctoral degree-level training and research. The Program is committed to enhancing the effectiveness and impact of African nationals in the field of conservation through the increased knowledge, skills, and credentials obtained through an advanced degree.

To keep you informed about leaders in African conservation, the following profiles several Charlotte Fellowship recipients and the influence they now carry within the conservation community.

Before her fellowship, Berita "Betty" Loibooki served as a senior park warden in charge of tourism for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). Among other accomplishments, she headed the tourism department at Serengeti National Park, where she was deeply involved in the design and construction of the very impressive Serengeti Visitor Center. According to Betty, "support from AWF" through the 1999-2000 Charlotte Fellowship Program, "allowed me to obtain my master's degree in Environment and Development" at the University of Natal in South Africa. Betty's research, titled "Tourism and Local People's Livelihoods" focused on the tourism impact of porters, guides, and the local communities surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro National Park of Tanzania. Betty has used the knowledge she gained in several advisory positions within TANAPA and in her current position as the Senior Park Warden for Lake Manyara National Park. In this role, she is a key partner for AWF in the Maasai Steppe Heartland.

Gladys Rhoda Walubuna Kalema served as the first veterinary officer for the Ugandan Wildlife Authority where she collaborated extensively with AWF and the International Gorilla Conservation Program. Her 2000-2001 Charlotte Fellowship supported a master's degree in Wildlife Zoological Medicine at the University of North Carolina. Her research topic focused on the prevalence of certain types of tuberculosis in African buffalo and cattle and their interface with humans in and around Queen Elizabeth and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks in Uganda. This study also had important implications related to medical issues within Bwindi's wild gorilla population as contagious diseases are a constant concern in any endangered species population. After completing her degree, Gladys founded and continues to serve as the Chief Executive Officer for a grassroots non-profit organization called Conservation Through Public Health. The organization is dedicated to promoting "conservation and public health by improving primary health care to people and animals in and around protected areas in Africa," with Uganda as a primary focus.

AWF elephant researcher Alfred Kikoti - a 2004/2005 recipient - is presently studying for his Ph.D. in Ecology at the University of Massachusetts. Alfred has extended Cynthia Moss's ground-breaking research on elephants in Kenya's Amboseli NP across the border into Tanzania. His research to date has already provided scientific baseline data to guide land management decisions in Tanzania's West Kilimanjaro region for the benefit of elephant conservation.

Bernard Kissui, awarded a Charlotte Fellowship during the 2003/2004 season, has been researching lion demographics and human-lion conflicts in and around Tarangire National Park as part of his doctoral program in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota. His research will be of great value to AWF's conservation efforts in the Maasai Steppe Heartland where lions are a focal species. Bernard's work will hopefully pave the way to ensuring a future for lions and other large carnivores throughout northern Tanzania.

Because of an incredible foresight and a planned annual investment, the Charlotte Fellowship Program is making a large impact on the future of many talented Africans and in turn on the future of African wildlife conservation. AWF is helping more and more Africans gain the knowledge and skills necessary to preserve Africa's awe-inspiring wildlife for the benefit of current and future generations - both in Africa and around the world.

To learn more about other Charlotte Fellows, click here.

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