Our Postgraduate Scholars
The TBA postgraduate scholarships are part of the TBA follow up support work that helps African biologists pursue their dreams in conservation and research. By 2010, some 30 biologists from Benin, Malawi, Cameroon, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Madagascar, Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya have benefited from the scholarship, many excelling to become top conservation biologists and practitioners in their chosen fields of interest. Here are the professional profiles of a few.
A pioneer scholar of the TBA postgraduate scholarship, Mark is a great ambassador of the programme and is currently pursuing a PhD under a Felix Scholarship at the University of Reading, UK. Having studied Animal Ecology at Kenyatta University, Kenya and writing his MSc thesis on Acacia pollination, Mark gained experience in a wide range of field including a stint as TBA Project Officer working on course co-ordination. Mark has participated in various conservation projects, notably an EU/USAID project promoting wildlife conservation through ecotourism in Kenya as well as pollination research. His work on pigeon pea systems in Kenya has led to the establishment of key farm management practices that can be used to promote sustainable delivery of pollination services and increase yields.
Mark, who has received numerous awards, prizes and mentions at important professional and global meetings, is confident that he can now lead and manage complex conservation programs, especially involving ecosystem functioning anywhere in the world.
On his winning the Felix scholarship he says, “It was almost unbelievable as this scholarship is normally awarded to only one candidate from Africa…The inclusion of TBA in my curriculum vitae is perhaps the “magic bullet” in winning some of the keenest competitions in field ecology, even in those that present limited hope for success.”
Since winning the TBA MSc scholarship in 2003, Mao has gone from one success to another in his career in freshwater ecology. Having graduated with a PhD from the University of Cape Town, a course that was inspired by his MSc at the same institution, Mao currently works as the Program Manager for WWF South Africa’s Integrated Catchment Management Programme.
He continues to publish interesting papers in Freshwater ecology, has presented his award-winning work at diverse international forums and is recognised as an upcoming conservation leader (African Conservation Telegraph (2008), Vol 3(1).
As the first and only female bird ringer in Malawi, Tiwonge is the country representative to the African Bird Club. Tiwonge studied altitudinal migration of the Yellow-throated Apalis (Malawi’s only endemic bird) for her MSc at Cape Town. She regularly writes for the Wildlife and Environmental Society’s monthly newsletter to inform Malawians on bird conservation issues. The sky is the limit for this upcoming ornithologist as she prepares to set up ‘BirdsMalawi’; an initiative to further promote conservation work in Malawi.
“I am eternally grateful to TBA for its support that has helped put me in touch with the best in the field of ornithology and these will be a priceless resource to me for the rest of my career”
Etotépé’s exceptional abilities and dedication to wildlife saw her win the TBA postgraduate scholarship in 2005 to undertake her master’s studies in natural resources management at the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin. Apart from carrying out extensive studies on lion ecology and behaviour, Etotépé has led research on human-wildlife conflict as well as on wild dog conservation in West Africa. Through her projects, she aims to provide vital information towards successful conservation of the endangered carnivores in the region. She is a founder member of the Network on Lion Conservation in West and Central Africa (ROCAL). She is currently finalising her Ph.D. in Conservation Biology at the University of Leiden, Netherlands.
A Community Ecology PhD student at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, Kowiyou attributes the numerous successes in his career to the TBA postgraduate scholarship which he won in 2003. His MSc in Environmental Science at the Abomey-Calavi University in Benin paved the way for him to work at the Ministry of Environment, the highest decision-making organ in Benin on environmental matters, as well as the Benin’s National Forest Division.
McOsano is certainly going places as an upcoming expert on payment for ecosystem services (PES). A 2003 scholarship winner, he is currently working in collaboration with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) as a Graduate Fellow while doing fieldwork in Kenya for his PhD research “Payments to promote biodiversity conservation and the implication for poverty reduction among pastoral communities in East Africa”. McOsano has published work on youth and sustainable development and in June 2009 was selected as one of 13 Emerging Young Environmental Leaders by the Global Environmental Governance (GEG) Project of Yale University and the College of William & Mary, USA.
There is no end to Simon’s ambition to achieve great milestones towards wildlife conservation. A beneficiary of the AELC Masters scholarship fund set up by the European participants from the 2003 TBA course in Tanzania, Simon studied MSc in Environmental Studies, specializing in community development at Kenyatta University, Kenya. A Research Scientists for the National Museums of Kenya, Simon has vast knowledge of birds but has also developed special interests in mammal research and conservation, especially the little known groups such as bats, rodents and shrews. Simon has also worked extensively in the coastal forests of Kenya.
Ofori’s is an interesting career in herpetology, being the only native Ghanaian in history to lead amphibian research in Ghana. His long-time amphibian research has resulted in the discovery of two new species to science, one of them while he was pursuing his TBA-funded masters. In 2009, Caleb’s MPhil was upgraded to a PhD that he will be submitting in 2010.
Only three months after completing his MSc that was funded through TBA,
Richard was appointed to head the Lushoto Silviculture Research Centre,
the largest centre in terms of research facilities, expertise and activities,
and human resources at the Tanzania Forestry Research Institute. John is
among the very few Tanzanians who have studied invasive alien plants; his
Masters’ formed part of the project,
"Combating Invasive Alien Plants threatening the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania".
In recognition of his talents and commitment to conservation, TBA awarded Kwaku a scholarship to study for a Master’s degree at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana in 2005. His studies were soon upgraded to PhD and Kwaku and a partner then set up their own butterfly conservation organization; these insects are considered to be excellent indicators of biodiversity.
Our field courses
Our international field courses help launch careers for committed young biologists from Africa and elsewhere in the world . Many are now championing conservation work in their home countries and still apply the skills they received from their TBA course.
Since his TBA course in 1997, Réné has gone from success to success in the conservation field. After earning his PhD from the University of Antananarivo, he was appointed director on the Peregrine Fund in Madagascar in 2004. He recently re-discovered the Madagascar Pochard, a diving duck species thought to be extinct, and established a captive breeding programme to help increase its population. He continues to study Malagasy biodiversity and to publish his work in internationally recognised journals. He has been named a Disney Conservation Hero for 2010, being one of six people honoured for “their extraordinary commitment to conservation”. Since 2004, Disney has honoured 48 people for their extraordinary conservation efforts around the world; see http://www.disney.com/conservation.
Julie, a pioneer of the TBA courses, has had a tremendous impact in her native Cameroon- first as a Provincial Chief of Forestry and now as the Conservator of the Limbe International Botanic Garden. Her days are filled with programs that help local communities develop floriculture businesses while also ensuring that the garden adheres to international standards and treaties on biodiversity conservation.
As executive Director of the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, Charles works closely with local communities on forest conservation projects in an effort to save the spectacular plants and animals that live in this biodiversity hotspot. He is grateful to TBA for “investing their resources in…young African graduates” and considers himself, “a product of TBA.”