TAAG inaugural African Students’ Conference

Hello Africa! You must have already heard about this, but allow me to re-introduce you to a very exciting forth-coming event organized by the TBA family- the maiden TAAG student conference in the land of Africa.

My name is Badru Mugerwa, a Ugandan conservationist and forest ecologist. I am privileged to be among the thousands who have received TBA’s generous and prestigious training in biology and conservation. I am currently serving as the secretary for the Local Organizing Committee for the TAAG’s maiden student’s conference, Nairobi, 2013. Continue reading “TAAG inaugural African Students’ Conference”

Meet one of the rarest primates: The Greater bamboo lemur

Prolemur simus (formerly known as Hapalemur simus) is one of the most critically endangered lemurs if not the most endangered one. Commonly known as the greater bamboo lemur, fossils records indicate that it was once widespread on the island of Madagascar. However at present, its populations are patchily distributed and restricted to rainforest areas in eastern and southeastern Madagascar, occupying less than 5% of its former range. As the name implies it is the largest of the bamboo-eating lemurs. Feeding is their second main activity with a specialized diet comprising mostly of one species of bamboo: Cathariostachys Madagascariensis (95% of the diet).

Continue reading “Meet one of the rarest primates: The Greater bamboo lemur”

Interview with David Quammen: Science as story

I do not know about you but at times I get lost in some scientific papers. As I try to understand everything to make sense of all the complex equations, graphs and statistics, I sometimes get distracted from the main message. So I can only have a guess at how much our scientific language may look like hieroglyphs to others. Yet as conservation biologists or simply biologists, we surely do not want our research- into which we put so much effort- to be understood by only a group of people. Getting the general public to understand our work is one step forward to translate scientific language on paper into concrete actions. Here I wish to share a short interview with David Quammen (Science writer, Author of The Song of the dodo and contributing writer for the National Geographic) based on the workshop entitled Science as Story: Communicating Scientific Material to a General Audience, that he animated at the SCCS Conference in Bangalore, India (2-4 August 2012).

I hope you get inspired to take your research one step further: beyond publication in scientific journals.

F.M: Do you believe it is essential for conservation biologists to share their findings to the general public?

D.Q: I do think it is important for conservation biologists to see their findings translated to the general public. I don’t necessarily think it’s the responsibility of the scientists to do that. There are people in the in-between space like myself who are science writers, whose job is to translate science to the general public and that’s the way science informs policy. I don’t think science determines policy but it informs policy and it is important for the information to pass along that path, from scientists through responsible journalists and science writers to the general public. Continue reading “Interview with David Quammen: Science as story”

One species hiding another

An endemic sapotaceous tree Calvaria major found on the island of Mauritius is nearly extinct because its seeds apparently required passage through the digestive tract of the now-extinct dodo Raphus cucullatus…’’

Temple, 1977

If Temple’s fairy tale was true, we should at present have coffins ready for the remaining ca 1000 trees of Calvaria major (Now Sideroxylum grandiflorum). But except for some outdated textbooks it is now widely recognized that there was no obligate mutualism between the dodo (below) and S.grandiflorum which turns out to be more threatened by invasive species. Yet though there was no evidence for this theory, it acquired quite some fame. Why? Maybe because of the aura already associated with the dodo or simply because species interactions are mysterious enough to trigger our imaginations.

Continue reading “One species hiding another”

Meet one of the world’s rarest snake

The first threatened species to be featured on the blog is the Round island boa also known as the Round island keel-scaled boa (Casarea dussumerii). It is the only member in its genus and one of the rarest snakes in the world.  Endemic to Mauritius (Indian Ocean), it used to occur on the main island and some offshore islets. However past habitat loss and introduction of invasive species have restricted its population to a single 215 ha islet, Round Island, found off the northern coast.

Round Island, the only place where the boa is found (and also a pandora’s box for herpetologists)

Continue reading “Meet one of the world’s rarest snake”

TBA field course: The video

Some of you may already have seen the new video on the TBA field course. We all probably learned a lot during the course, no matter which location we were. You can also have a look at it here and live the memories again.

Also with this first video on the blog, we wish to share more videos linked to the environmental world. So you are welcome to share your own personal videos or one you may have found on the web (Email address:  tbablogging@gmail.com ).


Animal welfare v/s Animal conservation

If you picture a football match between supporters of the animal welfare cause and conservationists, some participants probably wouldn’t be sure which team to play for. There is no doubt that while the two disciplines share common supporters and sometimes work hand in hand for a common cause, their goals may be contradictory as well. But does the public actually make a distinction between the two ?

If  you are working in the conservation field you have probably been asked about a specific individual animal that is ill-treated and you were expected to have all the answers to save it. But we conservation biologists often don’t and unfortunately we sometimes have to excuse ourselves for having little knowledge in a field that is not ours.Though sometimes entertaining this kind of confusion can be problematic. Continue reading “Animal welfare v/s Animal conservation”

View from the other side

The idea of this blog was conceived during a TBA workshop in 2011 on ecosystem services. So it just naturally follows that the first post remains in this field.

Never criticize a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.

American Indian Proverb.

Now how did I go from ecosystem services to American Indian tribes?In our field we hear about destructive practices by communities and may see it with our own eyes. Yet we know little until we get to meet these communities and make the effort to understand the why. All this knowledge and new ideas we are exposed to ,doesn’t it just remain ink on paper or pixels on our screen? Until applied and put into practice. There’s nothing like real-life experience for gaining new insights in conservation issues and allowing you to see things from a different angle. Continue reading “View from the other side”