We recently have a friendly chat with two students of College of African Wildlife Management (CAWM) in Mweka and here is what they have to say about the project.
Agripina Cletus Machaninga and Mbilinyi Lazaro are two students enrolled at CAWM Mweka and participating into the educational activities of CONTAN Project. They have very clear ideas on CONTAN project and goals, as they have for their own life as professional researches to be.
Would you say CONTAN project is an important educational experience for your future and why?
Agripina: In my opinion, CONTAN project is life changing project to most students and upcoming researchers like me. This project helps to uncover sense of simplicity in data collection and analysis techniques. It is a project which adds new knowledge, familiarity and experience to modern techniques and tools which allow students or researchers to add value to their findings. In other way, this project has helped me to identify my strength in all activities related to projects monitoring and evaluation.
Mbilinyi: The project is a very useful tool for learning for now and future generations. Introducing technological skills in biodiversity monitoring and conservation such as camera traps helps much in getting more information on what we have. Technology plays a very big part in providing information at points where human skills cannot be put on the field and help researchers to work smoothly but get enough information that will help add information on biodiversity science. To be honest, I am very thankful for the project because it gave me a clear summary of what will happen when I will be studying for my Master’s degree in African wildlife ecology and conservation where the skills that I acquired from different lecturers and lessons are useful in my studies.
What do you appreciate most of CONTAN lessons, trainings or methods? Is there something (collected data, moments, discoveries, etc.) that has particularly impressed you up to now?
Agripina: Being honestly, I did love CONTAN lessons. The classes were engaging, more practical than theory. I got chance to see and use most of tools which before I didn’t have access to. I enjoyed the way I got to interact with all trainers most especially foreign trainers who were very passionate with what they are doing best. They inspired me to choose something that I can do passionately. Lessons on camera traps, methods to sample insects, how to identify new plant species, lessons on reptiles and amphibian species plus data entry and analysis lessons left with something I can’t forget and I am very grateful.
Mbilinyi: Training and methods were the best part that I appreciated in the project and this is because of the good knowledge of biodiversity conservation that I acquired from MWEKA. The addition of the training and more advanced technology skills was very impressive to me and I can say even to other students because they were nice and smart. Data collection on different devices such as camera traps, Bioacoustic devices, Range finders, Microscope usage for invertebrates, and establishment of vegetation pots were very awesome and important for sharpening our skills in conservation. In addition, the lecturers that were providing these lessons were wonderful and friendly, and through that environment it was very easy for me to understand everything that was taught by them and it was amazing.
Do you think biodiversity monitoring and conservation is an urgency from what you see in your surroundings? What is the importance, from your point of view, to act globally even for local issues?
Agripina: Biodiversity monitoring is a very important aspect to consider in conservation. We have witnessed major biodiversity extinction which has been caused by human induced activities on natural areas. When we have good monitoring approach, expertise and resources, I think we are going to detect upcoming threats before they start causing major damages to biodiversity and ecosystem.
Mbilinyi: Biodiversity monitoring and conservation are very important and need much attention for the planet that we are living on doing our daily life activities. Ecosystem services are produced from the biodiversity that we have and that is very wonderful: for example, bees help impollination which helps in the provision of food for humans and animals. They are wonderful. I like insects and they are very impressive. Tourism also helps in the generation of income in the living standards of people and international recognition for the country by having unique species in their ecosystem. Climate support through the forests that we have and mountains help much in our planet’s survival and so biodiversity monitoring and conservation are very important.
Is there a moment or something that has happened in your life that you remember as the very special moment that made you choose to work in this field? Tell about it.
Agripina: I am nature lover; this is the only reason which made me choose this field. As a young lady who is in love with nature, I have to learn on how to take responsibility of conserving nature and make difference.
Mbilinyi: … It was on the research project that I conducted when undertaking my bachelor’s degree in wildlife management at MWEKA. I am very interested in and in love with pyro entomology and with this project, I will get more knowledge that will be very useful in making my dream come true for being an entomologist that focuses on fire interaction with insects. And I was also having some difficulties understanding R statistical software and through the project, I was taught and that helped me much with my knowledge and my master’s project that will come soon.
From your point of view, which are some of the primary issues that need to be faced to foster conservation?
Agripina: I think there are so many conservation activities taking place as we speak. Despite of that fact, attainment of conservation goals is an issue to discuss. We are facing this problem because we lack good monitoring approach. We still rely on old methodologies with low efficiency because we lack enough capital, expertise and knowledge to access modern technology.
Mbilinyi: The most crucial issue to be fostered is developing the curriculum for biodiversity monitoring and conservation that will be using more technology applications to get enough information that will help us in understanding more about what we have in our ecosystem. Also, different projects like CONTAN are much needed so as to provide extra knowledge and also if it’s possible you can increase the section and offer it twice a year that will be much helpful.
As we can hear front their own words, we are on the right path but we still have much to cover to deserve the life we share with so many other species on this fragile Planet. CONTAN project hopes to add a little contribution to conservation, to preserve the richness we should take care of.