Saving lives and livelihoods during the pandemic

August 17, 2020

The resilience and resourcefulness of our alumni knows no bounds, based on what we’ve been hearing over the last few months. Despite facing unprecedented challenges themselves, many of our alumni have taken the lead and initiated ways to help vulnerable local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these initiatives have supported livelihoods by employing local people (many who were otherwise unemployed) and generating income for the community. Others have potentially saved lives by raising awareness about the virus and implementing protective measures in local communities. Find out more about these inspiring leaders below and the creative ways they’ve responded to the crisis.

Purnima Devi Barman has coordinated the creation of over 11,000 handmade protective face coverings in Assam, India © Dhiraj Das

Purnima Devi Barman, who leads a previously CLP-funded project to conserve the Endangered greater adjutant stork in its last global stronghold in Assam, India, has coordinated the creation of over 11,000 protective face coverings, some with designs inspired by the stork. Local women are being employed to make the face coverings, which are being distributed to people in the surrounding villages. Some masks are also being sold and the income is going directly to support local communities.

One awardee from 2016, Yuzhou Gong, has co-authored a Letter to the Editor of the Journal of Medical Virology (JoMV) in response to earlier research published in JoMV indicating that snakes were a likely intermediate host of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2).

Vikram Aditya, who previously led a 2014 CLP project on the effect of landscape change on mammals in the Eastern Ghats, India, has co-authored two popular press articles to raise awareness about COVID-19 related issues in India. One article describes how the lockdown sadly appears to be allowing pangolin poaching to flourish, while the other comments on how the pandemic is affecting forest-dwelling communities.


Andean cat infographics developed for social media to raise awareness about safety measures during the pandemic © Andean Cat Alliance

The Andean Cat Alliance, which includes CLP alumni Mauro Lucherini (our recent interviewee), Cintia Tellaeche and Juan Reppucci, recently launched a series of three infographics about COVID-19 on social media (see images above). The initiative aimed to inform the local communities in the Andean cat range about how to protect themselves from the virus, and show how they (and the Andean cat!) are striving to be there for them during the pandemic.

Khima Balodi, who leads a previously CLP-funded project to conserve vultures in Uttharakhand, India, has coordinated the creation and distribution of face coverings among local communities, including a ‘Save Vultures, Save Nature’ message. He plans to employ local people to make 100,000 more masks. Having recently been elected to Chairman of a local government body (Panchayat), he has coordinated the weekly sanitisation of local households by a Health & Sanitary Inspector and arranged for village quarantine centres to be available for migrants from cities.

An initiative to protect local communities from COVID-19 in Liberia © James W. Gbeaduh

James W. Gbeaduh received a Wells Mountain Initiative (WMI) COVID-19 Response Grant (USD $250) to promote protective measures in his local community in Liberia. James and his team distributed over 300 reusable face masks, created posters and flyers to encourage social distancing and other safety measures, and installed hand-wash stations at three strategic locations. James previously undertook a CLP internship with FFI in 2015 to investigate the conservation status of the pygmy hippopotamus in Liberia.

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