Conservation Careers Fair Kenya-2020

Young people are stepping out to make a positive difference in the conservation of nature and wildlife all across the world.

With the many challenges facing our environment becoming more pronounced, we need more young people in every household to have a successful career in conservation thus promoting the conservation of nature and wildlife.

However, the number of students taking up a conservation-related course in Kenya has drastically reduced. To be able to change this narrative, Biophilic Conversations will be hosting the first-ever Conservation Careers Fair in Kenya in 2020.

Networking and making important professional contacts are often the most important components of any successful job search. The Conservation Careers Fair Kenya will bring together different potential conservation organizations and prominent Kenyan training institutions offering environmental and conservation-related study programs. This will create a platform for young people in conservation and employers to connect.

The careers fair is for any young Kenyan who wants to spend their career promoting coexistence between our wildlife and people and develop sustainable ways to ensure we live in a planet where both people and nature thrive. For students, this will guide them in a successful conservation career.

“It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible” – Greta Thunberg

Through this careers fair, Biophilic Conversations aims to cultivate an environment more conducive to participation by young Kenyans, who are the future of conservation in our country. By partnering with various representatives from Kenya’s conservation scene, we will demonstrate to young Kenyans that environmental conservation is a rewarding and viable career path to take.

The event includes career talks, panel discussions and various other engaging activities covering a host of career-related topics that open minds to the opportunities available in this diverse sector.

We need your support to be able to achieve this, if you have links with Kenyan conservation government agency, local or international universities that offer conservation-related courses, local and international NGOs, please drop us an email on info@biophilic.co.ke.

We aim at inspiring the next generation of conservationist and we need your help in every step we take. If you are thinking about a career in conservation, then this is for you.

Feel free to tag the conservation organization you have always wanted to work with, and let them join the Careers Fair.

Successful Egg Harvest Breaks New Ground in Saving the Northern White Rhinoceros

There are only two northern white rhinos left worldwide, both of them female. Saving this representative of megafauna from extinction seems impossible under these circumstances, yet an international consortium of scientists and conservationists just completed a procedure that could enable assisted reproduction techniques to do just that. On August 22, 2019, a team of veterinarians successfully harvested eggs from the two females who live in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya — a procedure that has never been attempted in northern white rhinos before. The eggs will now be artificially inseminated with frozen sperm from a northern white rhino bull, and in the near future the embryo will be transferred to a southern white rhino surrogate mother. The successful procedure was a joint effort by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) BerlinAvanteaDvůr Králové ZooOl Pejeta Conservancy and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

With neither Najin and Fatu, the two northern white rhino females, able to carry a pregnancy, the future of the northern white rhino now rests solely on pioneering artificial reproduction techniques. The successful harvesting of their eggs means that scientists are one step closer to being able to save the northern white rhino from complete extinction.

The procedure was the result of years of research, development, adjustments and practice. “Both the technique and the equipment had to be developed entirely from scratch”, says Prof. Thomas Hildebrandt from Leibniz-IZW and Dr. David Ndeereh from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), who headed the procedure. “We were able to harvest a total of 10 oocytes – 5 from Najin and 5 from Fatu – showing that both females can still provide eggs and thus help to save these magnificent creatures.”

The procedure was conducted with a probe, guided by ultrasound, which harvested immature egg cells (oocytes) from the ovaries of the animals when placed under general anaesthetic. “The anaesthesia went smoothly without any complications although these animals had not been immobilized for the last five years,” says Frank Goeritz from Leibniz-IZW.

“The number of harvested oocytes is a wonderful success and proof that the unique cooperation between scientists, experts in zoos and conservationists in field can lead to hopeful prospects even for the animals that are imminently facing extinction”, adds Jan Stejskal from Dvůr Králové Zoo, where the two rhinos were born.

It was the partnership between Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and KWS that led to the translocation of Najin, Fatu and two male northern white rhinos from the Czech Republic to Kenya in December 2009, when it was hoped that breeding would be stimulated by the rhinos being closer to their natural environment. Although mating attempts were witnessed, there were no pregnancies. “We came to the conclusion after a health assessment in 2014 that, owing to various health issues, neither Najin or Fatu are able to carry a pregnancy”, explains Dr. Robert Hermes from the Leibniz-IZW. Two males – Suni and Sudan – died of natural causes in 2014 and 2018 respectively. Their sperm was cryo-preserved in the hope that assisted reproduction techniques would advance enough so that they could pass on their genome to a new generation.

“On the one hand Ol Pejeta is saddened that we are now down to the last two northern white rhinos on the planet, a testament to the profligate way the human race continues to interact with the natural world around us.  However we are also immensely proud to be part of the groundbreaking work which is now being deployed to rescue this species.  We hope it signals the start of an era where humans finally start to understand that proper stewardship of the environment is not a luxury but a necessity,” says Richard Vigne, Managing Director of Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

“The concerted efforts to save the last northern white rhinos should guide the resolutions the world makes at the ongoing CITES meeting in Geneva. The assisted reproductive technique should galvanize the world’s attention to the plight of all rhinos and make us avoid decisions that undermine law enforcement and fuel demand for the rhino horn,” says Hon. Najib Balala, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife.

“We are delighted that this partnership gets us one step closer to prevent extinction of the northern white rhinos. This is particularly touching given the heartbreaking death of Sudan, the last male, who died of old age last year in Kenya,” says Brig. (Rtd) John Waweru, the Kenya Wildlife Service Director General.

“Yesterday’s operation means that producing a northern white rhino embryo in vitro – which has never been done before – is a tangible reality for the first time,” says Cesare Galli from Avantea, the Italian laboratory of advanced technologies for biotechnology research and animal reproduction. Avantea will now fertilise the eggs in vitro using the cryo-preserved semen of Suni and Saút.

The procedure is part of an international research project named “BioRescue”, a consortium to which Leibniz-IZW, Avantea, and Dvůr Králové Zoo are a part, and which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). As well as harnessing the collective knowledge and expertise of the consortium to conduct the in vitro procedure, the project will also lead the development of techniques and procedures to create artificial gametes from stem cells. This will involve transforming stored tissue from northern white rhinos into induced pluripotent stem cells, and then into primordial germ cells. Germ cells can then be matured to develop into eggs or sperm cells – essentially widening the genetic basis and the quantity of the gametes. The stem cell approach is primarily carried out by BioRescue consortium members Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Germany), Kyushu University (Japan) and Northwestern University (USA).

The whole procedure was conducted within an ethical framework that has been developed beforehand by ethicists and the other scientists and veterinarians involved in the procedure. “We developed a dedicated ethical risk analysis in order to prepare the team for all possible scenarios of such an ambitious procedure and to make sure that the welfare of the two individuals was totally respected”, says Barbara de Mori, the conservation and animal welfare ethics expert from Padua University. In addition, the procedure was conducted in compliance with Kenyan laws, policies and the relevant international requirements.

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Identification of Predators Responsible for Kills

As a wildlife officer, one of the skills I have realised one has to have in his fingertips  is the identification of predators responsible for kills be it in the bush “my office” or while responding to Problematic Animal Control (PAC), these skills come in handy when identifying the predator responsible for the kill so as to come up with the ideal solution for the specific animal.

A basic autopsy of the animals killed i.e shoats or cattle can reveal so much; dies the animal have a bite mark on the neck, was it constricted, which parts have been bitten off and how many of them have been killed can be key to identifying the culprit (predator) of which the most common are; Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lions and wild dogs among other small carnivores.

 

For understanding the impact of predators on prey species, it is obviously necessary to know about their feeding: what prey species are they killing?  What proportion of them do they take?  What age, sex, and condition are these prey?  And how do they compare in number and agesex distribution with the live prey population?

It must be remembered that most predators are extremely flexible in what they eat.   Their diet certainly varies from place to place, depending partly, of course, on what prey species are present in different areas.  For the samreason, the diet may vary with season as the prey species present change.   Even if the numbers of different prey species in an area do not alter, there may be differences·itheir catchability, due behaviour of the prey.

It is extremely difficult to sawhat proportion of prey animals are truly “available” to the predators.   And there are certainly differences between individual predators in the prey animals they take. 

Kills can be examined by waiting until the predator has finished feeding, or if this is impossible (e.g. because of lack of time, or because a small prey animal is likely to be totally consumed) by temporarily driving it from its kill. Predators can usually be made to withdraw by driving slowly towards them and separating them from their kill which can then be observed from close range.  Although most predators will flee from a human on foot, this method disturbs them considerably, and they may not then return to their kill.

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CONSERVATION EDUCATION INTERPRETIVE SKILLS

Conservation education always sounds easy “talking about the advantages and importance of conserving the environment” anyone can easily do it until you find yourself in front of a group of rowdy incorporative pupils, then you’ll realize its never that simple.

I recently attended the Northern Kenya Conservation Education Working Group (NKCEWG) workshop which expounded my interpretive skills, got practical solutions on how best to improve public speaking skills which I believe will be of immense value to you.

Icebreakers and Attention Getters

Icebreakers and attention getters are important to capture attention at the beginning of a lesson and throughout the program. An introduction sets students up for success by communicating the agenda, goals, and tone for the program. It builds interest in the program content and establishes rapport with the audience. This can also be where you introduce your attention getters for the day so students know what to do when you use them.

Sample Introduction:

Warm greeting

Agenda for the day

The theme for the day

First set of instructions – limit to 3 things to do at a time

Introduce attention getters

Attention Getters:

“When I say Water, you said Shed!” “Water!”… “Shed!”

Repeat after me: clap 2 times, wait for kids to mimic clapping sequence. Repeat with various clapping patterns. Can do this with stomping, whistles, animal sounds, etc.

“Everyone catch a bubble in your mouth”- wait for students to puff cheeks out with mouth closed.

Listening check: “If you can hear me touch your head.” Wait for students to touch their head. “If you can hear me cross your fingers.” Etc.

Knowing Your Audience

Relate to your audience based on their needs, to keep engagement and set students up for success. Build rapport with them from the beginning. When engaging your audience, remember:

RMP – Relevant, Meaningful, and Personal.

Various Student Ages

  • Adults: Can only handle 7 +/- 2, relates back to themselves, change is tough- help make it easier, use various methods to teach (like kids!). Don’t forget to use humour. Challenge them, or include teamwork.
  • Preteens – teens: What others think about them is important. They can only handle 5-7 pieces of info at a time. Their brains are still developing – starting to understand generalization, deductive reasoning, and problem-solving. They are learning to think about abstract concepts. Use visuals, and a structured program is helpful. Remember different learning styles when engaging this group.
  • Ages 5-9: There can be a lot of self-doubt at this age. Engage both the body and the mind at the same time when teaching. They are developing better motor control. More self-centred thinking. Be clear and direct, very short instructions, short attention span/mix it up, can use puppets and games, be fun and silly, use Total Physical Response (TPR): adds physical movement in with language. Using physical movement to react to verbal input: reduces student inhibitions, lowers effective filter.

 

Coaching Styles – Which One Are You?

  1. Teacher

You are an expert in the field and coach by instruction, giving feedback, and demonstrating skills. You work from your knowledge and experience and focus on skill-based issues like performance skill. You coach on an ongoing basis over an extended period to build a broad but specific skill set. You often create development programs that lead coachees through a sequence of learning steps over time

2. Parent

You are committed to the long-term development of the coachee. You take a directive approach because of your hierarchical position or superior knowledge base. You may know better than your coachees, but your goal is to help coachees achieve equal status and effectiveness.

You are prone to giving career advice and take a strong interest in the coachees growth along many dimensions. You typically coach over an extended period of time and see coachees evolve significantly.

3. Manager

Your job keeps you very busy so you coach only in response to a specific need, focusing on the isolated skill or task you think needs improvement. You typically have a hierarchical relationship with the people you coach.

Your experience and expertise often make you more knowledgeable than coachees, so you tend to make performance observations, give feedback, and set expectations. You expect to see short term improvements.

4. Philosopher

You interact with your coachees only occasionally, and when you do, you are mainly concerned with the development of the whole person. Your guidance comes from a position of superior knowledge, expertise, or moral certitude – though your advice is not typically spiritual in nature. You often coach by telling stories or relating experiences from your own life. You enjoy using “words of wisdom” to assist coachees.

5. Facilitator

You have a long-term interest in helping coachees develop, and you focus on specific skill-based growth needs. You are often more highly skilled than coachees, but prefer that coachees work through issues themselves. You see your goal as helping others help themselves, and you refrain from giving advice or exercising authority. Often you are a team member or peer of those you coach and have a mutual coaching relationship.

6. Counsellor

You take a broad view of your coaching responsibility and strive, through a series of regular sessions, to help coachees develop the full spectrum of their capabilities. You believe in self-development, so you are encouraging and supportive, but refrain from telling coachees what they should do. You may not always be a subject matter expert and not necessarily has highly skilled where coachee wants help. Your role is to guide others through self-discovery.

7. Colleague

You often have a peer relationship with the coachee, and your preferred mode is to act as a thought partner or sounding board for your coachee. You generally coach only when asked, and focus entirely on specific skill-based needs. You may tell a coachee how you have done something previously, but you mainly coach by asking questions, listening, and thoughtfully responding to questions in order to help coachees solve problems for themselves.

8. Mentor

You serve primarily in an advisory role. You are generally older and far more experienced than the coachee, and you act as more of a shepherd – gently guiding in the right direction, choosing questions to help others discover a path

for themselves. You coach by example, setting a model with your own work and life. You coach infrequently because of your position or stature, but your coaching is likely to be very impactful.

Adapted from Effective Coaching (Bacon,1997)