Malagasy pioneer

The first Malagasy to attend a TBA field course, Réné de Roland Lily-Arison joined the 1997 course in Kibale, Uganda. It was an experience which laid the foundations for a remarkable career in conservation.

Today, as National Director of The Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Project, Lily-Arison is his country’s figure-head for this international NGO. The organisation is dedicated to protecting birds of prey, building national capacity in  conservation, and carrying out environmental research and education.

The conservation challenge in Madagascar is particularly important because of the high diversity of endemic species found there, and the rapid rate of habitat loss and degradation threatening these unique species.

Lily-Arison is playing a key role in meeting this challenge. Under Lily’s direction, the Peregrine Fund in Madagascar is at the forefront of ensuring that important sites for biodiversity are included under the Madagascar Protected Areas System. This status would help to protect the Madagascar Fish Eagle and the Madagascar Serpent Eagle, as well as other threatened and endemic fauna.

Crucially, he has built the capacity of many other Malagasy passionate conservation biologists – many of whom have been on TBA courses.

It would be hard to find a Director with greater commitment than Lily. He re-discovered the Madagascan Pochard — a diving duck thought to be extinct which is now a focus of intensive and successful conservation efforts.  In 2010, he was one of just six Disney Conservation Heroes named that year for their outstanding contribution to global conservation. Lily told us “I believe this honour will be a source of inspiration for my TBA colleagues”. Lily has also co-authored more than 20 research papers.

Lily is encouraging and supporting the next generation of his country’s environmental scientists, and local associations who work in natural resource management.

“The TBA training helped to broaden my original horizon in conservation and helped to build my capacity as leader in conservation biology in Madagascar….this has been pivotal in my work and has enabled me to impart these skills to the other Malagasy TBA alumni”