2018 Scholar Profiles

Agnese Mancini

Boomerang For Earth Conservation, France

Agnese is the Co-Founder, Managing Director, and current President of Boomerang For Earth Conservation. She says that the “scope of the organization was to run community-based conservation and education projects in the hope that the projects would then be ‘adopted’ locally by either local NGOs or the community. Most of our work occurred in Mexico and Egypt and was related to marine turtles. In the last few years, we focused on environmental education, including citizen science projects, especially in the Egyptian Red Sea where we collaborated with a local NGO to gather data on abundance and distribution of endangered marine turtles.”

About her work, she says, “I have also led a few research projects in various countries, my idea is that you lead by doing and showing things in a hands-on manner, you brainstorm frequently with your team and you encourage people in pursuing their own ideas.”

 

Alexandru Ciutea

Greenpeace Romania

Alexandru “began working for Greenpeace in August 2016, as a volunteer for the Romanian Forest Rescue Station.” About his present work, he says, “I am leading a small, but very passionate, GIS team of Greenpeace volunteers. Together we are doing the GIS work in Greenpeace Romania.”

According to Alexandru, “the most effective way to learn and to improve your GIS skills is by participating in such events and be part of communities like SCGIS. I could take as reference the SCGIS conference in Russia or the mapping skill share in Netherlands, for example. There, in a few days, I can say I learned a huge amount of things related to GIS and I meet many wonderful and passionate people. Not only that these meetings changed my life, but also I think they were really important for the future of GIS and eventually for the protection of the environment in Romania.”

 

Animesh Ghose

Creative Conservation Alliance, Bangladesh

Animesh has “been working with Creative Conservation Alliance (CCA) since 2011.” His “journey began with the Bangladesh Python Project team as a volunteer.” Animesh recounts, “We went to forest early in the morning with VHF receiver to track our radio tagged Burmese python and elongated tortoise. Later in 2016, members of Bangladesh Python Project formed [an] organization and named it as ‘Creative Conservation Alliance’ (CCA) and I joined here as ‘wildlife biologist’ officially!!”

About one of his current projects, Animesh says, “We’re now positioned to affect real change in the region, but this is no small task! Change requires a multi-directional approach culminating in a holistic program engaging both local stakeholders and government agencies.”

 

 

Bob Rudo Mandinyenya

African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), Zimbabwe

Bob works “as a principal researcher with the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.” About his work, he writes that it “involves carrying out large predator occupancy surveys, monitoring of herbivore populations and distribution, vegetation mapping and also carrying out trials for human wildlife conflict mitigation methods within the surrounding communities.”

About using GIS to create maps Bob says, “During my bachelors` degree, I spent a year doing a work related learning placement with ALERT and during this placement I often had to listen and also talk to different people about how the landscape is changing and how that is affecting wildlife distribution and populations and it was during some of these conversations I felt it would be great if I had the ability to show these changes on a map and help people understand better what I was talking about.”

 

 

Dr. Carlos Andrés Delgado-Vélez

Universidad CES, Colombia

Carlos is a Lecturer in the Programa de Ecología at the Universidad CES in Medellín, Colombia. He writes that “the Ecology undergraduate program at UCES seeks to train professionals with high academic quality, competent to conduct investigations to produce knowledge and propose solutions to environmental problems.”

He says that “the most important part of international experiences is to share with others that cannot travel overseas what you learn. This has always been the aim of my trips. In this case, I hope to share with Colombian communities the GIS techniques I can manage during the scholarship because one of my intentions during the following one/two years is to build a series of biodiversity conservation workshops where GIS at community level can be taught. One of the aims is to empower locals with geographic tools that can be used to map biodiversity and monitor environmental transformation factors such as toxic elements, deforestation and forest degradation.”

 

Dr. Cecilia “Ceci” Passadore Real

Uruguay

Ceci “just returned to Uruguay after 5 years abroad doing a PhD,” with a desire “to continue working with GIS to produce essential knowledge on the spatial ecology of marine mammal species to inform for their management and conservation within Uruguayan waters.”

About her experiences, she says, “As a leader of ARENAS Project, I participated in the organization of workshop and training of school teachers in the ecology, functioning and conservation of coastal ecosystems. We gave teachers tools to perform activities with their children and engage them in the conservation of coastal environments in Uruguay. We encouraged teachers to do environmental education activities at their schools inspired in answering questions on the functioning of coastal ecosystems; we also joined them during fieldwork activities with the children to learn together about their local environment.”

 

Dibyendu “Dibs” Kumar Mandal

Wildlife Institute of India (WII)

Dibs is “a final year PhD student at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).” He says, “For my doctoral study, I am trying to understand how striped hyenas persist in such high densities in human dominated landscape by studying their survival rate, resource utilization pattern (den site & habitat selection, diet, their relation with other carnivores and humans) and sociality. I am also trying to understand how reintroduced tigers use areas, cope up with the new environment and their diet.”

About his work, he says, “conserving large carnivores among humans has been a daunting task for managers and conservationists. Since, village relocation from inside the reserve is a contentious issue and resource intensive, identifying ecological requirements such as suitable breeding sites, den sites of large carnivores and protecting them from an ever increasing human pressure has been the primary concern. However, identification of such ecological requirements of large carnivores not only requires robust ecological data, but also prowess in GIS.”

 

Dirga Daniel

WWF Indonesia

Dirga works “as a World Wildlife Fund GIS Officer with scope areas of Maluku and West Papua Province.” His “main responsibility is to lead spatial analysis and research related to [their] core program such as marine spatial planning policy, marine protected area and fisheries.”

Regarding conservation work with his organization, he writes that their “approach is consistent with the concept of Conservation Efforts which also includes the dependence of small island developing nations on healthy marine and coastal and sustainable use of marine resources, especially in the fisheries and tourism sectors. Basically, conservation effort is designed to promote human welfare, the sustainability of the world's wealth and natural resources for multi-stakeholder use; providing clean water, food, energy, and protecting people's livelihoods.”

 

Enathe Hasabwamariya

Antioch University New England, Rwanda

Enathe is a current student in the Environmental Studies program with a concentration in Conservation Biology at Antioch University New England. About her current project, she says, “I am using GIS in my Master’s project to understand the ranging patterns of chimpanzees in relation to forest edges and human activities in Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda.”

According to Enathe, “My interest in conservation comes from growing up around Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda.  My main concerns were about the interaction between human and wildlife, which pushed me to study biology and conservation.” She says that from her “research in Nyungwe, chimpanzees were found using areas adjacent to humans, destroying beehives in the search for honey. GIS skills help to understand the land use changes and its impact on biodiversity conservation. However, the lack of trained GIS experts is a challenge to conservation in many developing countries.”

 

Fernanda Gonzales

WWF Ecuador

Fernanda is a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the World Wildlife Fund in Ecuador. About her experiences, she says, “Early in my life, I discovered that one way to accomplish my dreams was studying.  Currently, for millions of people, to have the opportunity to share a classroom and learn not only from the lectures but also from the classmates, the professors and the education system is a privilege that not many people can have. Studying is not only important to develop a career and improve their living conditions, that of their families and society in general.”

Fernanda concludes that “Study is always good, but sharing your studies with people from other countries is even better.” She adds, “I also had the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds, that changed my perspective of things in several ways.  When I finished my master, I felt different, I had more empathy for others and, most important, I became a better person professionally and personally. After this process I wanted to keep working with nature but also with people and try to improve their live conditions if possible.”

 

Jackson “Zozo” Katampi

Department of National Parks and Wildlife, Zambia

Zozo is a Senior Wildlife Veterinary Officer with the Zambia Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Chilanga, Zambia. He says about his work, “My role in the department is to provide scientific and veterinary support for the biological management of wild fauna.” Also, “I am more recently involved with the Wildlife crime prevention program in which, the objective is to identify key spot areas for carnivore poaching.”

Regarding his work with GIS, he adds “My work with GIS has mainly involved mapping seasonal distribution of mammal species, mainly working with the white rhinos in Mosi-oa-tunya National Park, Sable, Lions and Elephants in Kafue/Sioma Ngwezi National Park. This involves collecting GPS positions of the animals when sighted, collecting the environmental conditions at that particular position i.e. abundance data, vegetation type, soil type, water levels and creating a data base of these locations.”

 

Nelson “Nellie” Mwangi

Save the Elephants, Kenya

Nellie is a Research Assistant for GIS and Animal Tracking at Save the Elephants in Kenya. About his organization, he says, “Save the Elephants is a Kenyan based NGO founded in 1998 with a mission to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between human beings and wildlife.”

Regarding the use of GIS, he says, “I happen to be part of this group of young Kenyans who have shown a keen interest in using GIS in conservation and wildlife management and I cannot begin to explain how useful GIS has been as a conservation tool.”

 

Noelia L. Volpe

Conservation Bio Lab - Litoral Center for Applied Ecology (CECOAL), Argentina

Noelia is “a PhD student working on the reintroduction project of the red and green macaw (Ara chloropterus) in the Iberá Wetlands in Argentina, where it became extinct during the 1800s.” Describing her work she says, “this is a unique project, as it is the first time someone attempts a macaw reintroduction in a fragmented landscape where there are no wild counterparts that can serve as an example for the released individuals, and thus require and intensive behavioral rehabilitation process. It is quite challenging from the GIS point of view both for the logistics of gathering the GPS locations of the birds but also for the complexity of the models I am planning to run, which will include both spatial and temporal data.”

She says, “I think it is important to attend to conferences and training in person, rather than relying on long-distance interactions. When we are looking for people or knowledge online, we do so biased by where we think the answers will be. This leaves us with a narrow scope of solutions for our problems. In a conference, specially one as large as this one, we get to meet people working outside the spheres of what we are used to, making us face new ideas and concepts. Being exposed this multiplicity of topics might help us find that solution we were looking for in places we weren´t looking at.”

 

Oksana Savenko

Ukrainian Scientific Center Ecology of the Sea (UkrSCES), Ukraine

Oksana is “the research scientist in Ukrainian Scientific Center of Ecology of the Sea (Odesa, Ukraine).” About her work she says, “my work is dedicated to the research and conservation of the marine mammals and birds of the Black Sea; also, I am involved in the monitoring of debris in the marine environment.” She also says that her “wish is to attract people to the observation of cetaceans in the wild – not in captivity.”

About her early beginnings, she says, “During the high school, I conducted observations on the breeding colony of kestrels, located in a semi-ruined church in the middle of an artificial reservoir on the Dnieper River. Without the use of modern GIS techniques, I tried to visualize the foraging sites of different breeding pairs of kestrels. My research project won the first place at the competition of the Minor Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. I have been involved in the research and conservation of marine mammals since 2004.”

 

Phlong “Leng” Nguon Leng

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia

Leng is a Law Enforcement and SMART Coordinator at the Wildlife Conservation Society in Cambodia. About his job, he says, “I am playing a supporting role between law enforcement and conservation practitioners for both NGO and government staff. My spatial work ties in law enforcement specific analysis with biodiversity and cultural monitoring and assessment. Working across governmental agencies is challenging due to a current Cambodia initiative on decentralization and a recent jurisdictional shift of PA management responsibility from one ministry to another that requires extensive new training.”

Leng writes, “KSWS [Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary] is home to more than 60 species of animal and plants on the global Red List that are threatened with extinction, according to the criteria of IUCN, the World Conservation Union. The area is of international importance for the conservation of primates (including the world’s largest known populations of black-shanked douc and southern yellow-cheeked crested gibbons), wild cats, Asian elephants, wild cattle and several species of globally significant birds.”

 

Sean Stephen Karia Bragg

Te Ruunanga o Ngaai Tahu (TRoNT), New Zealand

Sean is a GIS Assistant at Te Ruunanga o Ngaai Tahu (TRoNT), “an iwi/tribal organization that exists for the 60,000 (and growing) registered Ngai Tahu tribal members.” Sean writes, “TRoNT is guided by a whakatauki (proverb) ‘Mo tatou, a, mo ka uri, a muri ake nei – for us and our children after us. TRoNT is all about protecting the current rights and interests of all tribal members and uplifting the aspirations of the people – both now and for future generations.”

Regarding GIS, Sean says that he appreciates “the ability it gives me and others to focus on the finer details, such as organizing and processing large amounts of data, all the while being able to maintain and focus on the ‘bigger picture’ through/via a spatial lens.” 

 

Tin Myo Thu

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Myanmar

Tin has “been working full-time as a Deputy GIS Technician for the WCS-Myanmar Program since 2014.” About his work, he writes, “Examples of the application of my work are to create village land use map, deforestation and threat maps, ranger patrol maps, and other maps that used for planning and management of protected areas and forest department and analysis map for the university students in our region.” In addition, he often works as a translator in support of GIS training.

Tin says that “GIS support is very important for WCS Myanmar and requires the interaction of multiple groups. My role requires that I interact with community members and leaders, NGO and civil society, development agencies, and both State and indigenous governments. Each requires a different level of engagement, I must constantly adapt to the current environment. Most of these interactions are in extremely remote places with limited resources. The broad scope of stakeholder support requires an equally broad scope of data.”