Celebrating our alumni accomplishments (January – March 2024)

March 06, 2024

Many congratulations to our alumni on their impressive achievements this year, which we highlight below. After receiving their first, second or third CLP Team Award, and participating in our training, it is a pleasure to see our alumni go on to pursue their professional, academic and personal goals so successfully.

Awards success

Not just one, but two, CLP alumni have been shortlisted for a prestigious Whitley Award this year. The shortlisted alumni include Alice Reisfeld (Brazil) for her proposal, “Rewilding the Atlantic Forest to save the Black-fronted Piping-guan”, and Leroy Ignacio (Guyana) for his proposal,  “Strengthening community-based conservation of the Endangered red siskin.” Alice and Leroy are two of 15 shortlisted Whitley Award applicants selected out of 100 applicants from the Global South.

Esther Githinji, our intern with WILDLABS, designed promotional materials for the WILDLABS Women in Conservation Technology Programme that won a Canva Community Award (Campaign Champions category). Esther has now secured a permanent position with WILDLABS as the East Africa Conservation Technology Coordinator. Read more about her career placement here.

Letícia Benavalli (Brazil) was one of seven conservationists nominated for a Future for Nature Award 2024 for her proposal ‘researching and conserving jaguars and their ecosystem in Brazil.’

New NGO established

Letícia has also just established a brand new NGO, Pró-Onça Institute, which is dedicated to large carnivore conservation in the Brazilian Cerrado, women’s empowerment in science, and climate change mitigation in Latin America. Follow this important work on Instagram.

2023 CLP award-winner and 2024 Future for Nature Award nominee, Letícia Benavalli © Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP)

Fulbright scholarship success

Camila Kass was one of only 10 Argentinian researchers to receive a Fulbright scholarship in 2023. This grant has funded Camila’s postdoc research stay at Ohio University in the USA for the last four months (December 2023 – March 2024). She has been studying the effects of global warming on two lizard species (specifically their thermal physiology) one of which is the target species of her 2023 CLP-funded project (the thorntail mountain lizard – pictured below).

As well as developing her research skills and learning important distribution modelling techniques, this research will feed into Camila’s CLP project by helping to establish long-term conservation strategies that address the ongoing threats this lizard faces.

The thorntail mountain lizard is a threatened lizard in Argentina © Federico Izasa

Camila said: “I’ve had the chance to participate in different seminars and events in the university, and meet new colleagues. I was also invited to give two presentations on my conservation project, one at the University and one at a Nature Reserve. But the most important thing is that I learned about the cultural values of other people and their country.”

She added: “I also came here with my 3-year-old daughter (my partner had to stay at home for his new job). For me, this experience has been a chance to show that, even though motherhood is hard just on its own, it’s possible to be a great mum and work!  She goes to pre-school while I am at work, and she has made friends, learned a lot of English, and we are having a great time!”

Camila Kass (right) chats with another CLP awardee, Irianies Gozali, while taking part in our 2023 Conservation Management & Leadership workshop in Mexico © Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP)

Conference invitations

Pedro Pereira has been invited to talk at the 23rd International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (12 – 16 May 2024). Pedro will present his findings from his 2021 CLP Follow-Up project conserving coral reefs in Brazil’s largest federal coastal marine conservation unit, the Costa dos Corais.

Sarika Baidya and her team have been invited to the 1st Asian Bird and Butterfly Meet in Gajoldoba, West Bengal, India (22 – 27 March 2024). Here, they will have the opportunity to interact with many national and international delegates, including those from Bhutan, giving them an opportunity to discuss future collaborations to conserve the beautiful butterfly, Ludlow’s Bhutan swallowtail.

2023 CLP award-winner, Sarika Baidya (right) with a local woman in India showing awareness-raising images of the beautiful Ludlow’s Bhutan swallowtail © Sarika Baidya

Publications success

Merlijn van Weerd has published a short article in Current Conservation based on work initiated in a series of CLP projects by the Mabuwaya Foundation in The Philippines, which aims to conserve the Critically Endangered Philippine crocodile. The article was published as part of a special section of the journal on human-wildlife coexistence. Other authors who contributed to the article are Marites (Tess) Balbas, Myrna Cureg and Jan van der Ploeg (all CLP alumni). Tess and Merlijn both continue to run the Mabuwaya Foundation (Tess as Director of Operations and Merlijn as Executive Director).

The Mabuwaya Foundation team get ready to release Philippine crocodiles into the wild © Mabuwaya Foundation

Reshu Bashyal and her co-author published an article in Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation, in a special issue on wildlife trade, in January 2024. The article reports on their systematic survey of the online trade of caterpillar fungus – a highly valued ingredient in cosmetics and medicines, and as an aphrodisiac and dietary supplement. The online trade of this fungus is growing and is an emerging conservation issue.

Gaurav Vashistha and his co-authors published an article in Oryx – The International Journal of Conservation in December 2023. The findings, which showed a surprising stronghold of Critically Endangered gharials in a little-studied unprotected area of northern India, was recently covered in a CLP article and shared widely by some of our partner organisations.

The Critically Endangered gharial is endemic to the Indian subcontinent © Gaurav Vashistha

New professional ventures

Rafid Shidqi (Indonesia) has started a new position as a member of the Expert Committee at Ocean Community Empowerment and Nature (OCEAN) by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK).

Want to see more updates like this?

Look out for further exciting updates from our alumni throughout the year! If you’d like these updates sent straight to your inbox, then please sign up to our newsletter. Plus, find out more about how to win a CLP Award to support your conservation project and boost your career!

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