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EDGE Awardees

By on July 5, 2021 in EDGE Fellows, News, EDGE Heroes

You will have been introduced to these people throughout the years when they were our Fellows, but these alumni have continued to dedicate themselves to saving their EDGE species and have been granted various scale up awards within EDGE!

EDGE Affiliates, alumni who maintain close links with the EDGE team and scale up their work from the Fellowship, can apply for follow-on funding over two years through the EDGE Heroes Award. Segré-EDGE Fellows with a similar determination can be awarded over one year through the Segré Species Survival Award (SSSA). Two of our EDGE Heroes have also won a Whitley AwardKini in 2021 and Ali in 2020.

These opportunities enable these Affiliates to put their Survival Blueprint into action, and ultimately improve the chances of bringing their species back from the brink of extinction. We decided to catch up with some of our EDGE Awardees to ask how their projects are going.

 

What are you doing now that your Fellowship is over?

Emmanuel – West African slender-snouted crocodile – Ghana – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

We are currently working with the communities, how to establish protected areas so, so far, so good. At the moment not much of fieldwork because most of the project has completed, and we are looking forward to some funding. I’m also doing my PhD so occasionally I go to that field to monitor my nest.”

Kini – Hooded grebe – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“I’m still working out that with Davi because since last year, with the pandemic, we basically delayed the end of the Hero Award. My average day is lot of computer work, doing a lot of logistics, work on communication, a lot of meetings with colleagues – because of the EDGE program, the project grew up a lot, so now we are about 24 people working almost full time. Although I keep doing a lot of fieldwork, most of my work now is more coordination of those projects.”

Mica has continued working on conserving her EDGE species, the Chacoan peccary, in the Gran Chaco region in Argentina. She is currently analysing the data collected during her Fellowship and running two projects – ‘Project Quimilero’ and ‘Somos Monte’. They aim to stop deforestation by strengthening conservation initiatives in local communities and communicating with policy makers.

Ali – Hirola – Kenya – Fellowship cohort 2011-2013

“Now, because of the building blocks that I’ve built over the years, I will continue to support the recovery program for this species and continue building capacity of the local communities. One of the critical projects is restoration of their habitat and in the initial phase of the project we’re just trying to see how we can put grasses back on the landscape. Eventually, I want to see how that will bolster their population growth, their survival rate, their pregnancy rate, and their recruitment. So, I still have a lot of work to do, and I’m committed to seeing all this happen in the coming decade or so.”

 

What made you want to carry on working with this species?

Sandeep – Purple frog – Kerala, India – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“From my country’s perspective, most of the research and conservation efforts are more around larger animals like tigers, elephant, rhinos. Of course, they all should be conserved but at the same time, several lesser animals – even our purple frog – all deserve to be conserved. At the moment, the area where I focus more is to shed light on these less represented animals.”

EDGE Hero Lili said that there are still many doubts about where the Colombian Dwarf gecko is found in and around Tayrona National Park. The need to collect Lepidoblepharis miyatai, verify that previous records are not from closely related species, and resolve the confusion about this gecko’s distribution is the main reason Lili wants to learn more about them.

Emmanuel – West African slender-snouted crocodile – Ghana – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“I took a lot of risk working on the species, capturing crocodiles to tag them and working in the night. I feel like it’s something we should ensure the long-term legacy. That’s why I’m currently working to establish a protected area, so that at the end of the day we have that joy from what we started through the EDGE Fellowship becoming something that will be there forever, even beyond our generation.”

Kini – Hooded grebe – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“In the past, I was not really a fan about waterbirds. Actually, I was more into forest birds. But when I got to Patagonia the first time, what makes me want to stay there was the challenge that was to study this species in that kind of habitat.”

Mica – Chacoan peccary – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“I think it’s a great species as a flagship for the Dry Chaco. This species lives in such a dry area – there’s no superficial water for months. It’s endangered and it’s endemic. I think that if we speak of the Dry Chaco this is the most characteristic species of the region.”

Ali – Hirola – Kenya – Fellowship cohort 2011-2013

“I see hirola as part of my heritage, and as part of our landscape. They occur completely outside formal government protected areas in communal areas. So, we have a huge responsibility to ensure that they have safe space on behalf of the world, to make sure that we don’t lose them. We want to convert the landscape from a sink into a source of many hirolas, where we can use that source population to introduce them back into their native range. Given that we share this space, we are determined to see that they persist.”

 

What has been one of the biggest impacts of your work so far?

Emmanuel – West African slender-snouted crocodile – Ghana – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“The discovery of this current population. It was through my EDGE Fellowship that we were able to interact with people and eventually found out that there is a community where the species is protected by tradition. We have the record that they are being hunted into extinction outside protected areas, so this traditional protected area is very, very important for the species’ long-term conservation.”

Sandeep’s research indicated that initiatives which successfully raise awareness of lesser-known species made connections between the animal and the community. As the purple frog only comes out briefly, it showed some similarity to the mythology of King Mahabali. They trialled a poster during one of the Indian festival periods in 2017, which was picked up by several media outlets. Now, talks with stakeholders has shown a significant improvement in the number of people that recognise the species. Sandeep has now submitted a proposal for the purple frog to be the state amphibian for Kerala, which has gone viral nationally.

Kini – Hooded grebe – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“Thanks to the Fellowship in 2015, I was able to create a much stronger and long-term plan, and with the Hero Award I was able to accomplish that plan, at least the first steps.”

Ali – Hirola – Kenya – Fellowship cohort 2011-2013

“My EDGE Hero Award supported the restoration of the landscape. We have designed a long-term conservation plan for this and that is allowing us to put food back on the table at full speed. We are eliminating invasive species from the landscape by putting more grass cover in the area and eventually we are increasing hirola population. We are hoping that this would be the game changer for the species, and I think you will be able to witness that in the next few years.”

 

What have you enjoyed most about working with EDGE?

Lili – Dwarf gecko – Colombia – Fellowship cohort 2018-2020

“Many things. I find I know the EDGE team like a family. They really make me feel that I am not alone in this process. I don’t feel like just a Fellow – you really make me feel like I am a human. You recognize that I have personal troubles, and I have bad feelings. That makes me feel comfortable with all the team. Even personally, I feel like friends.”

Sandeep – Purple frog – Kerala, India – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“The collaboration and support I was getting from the team, especially Ben who has been my supervisor and my mentor all these years. Currently, with the EDGE Hero project, Jyoti also stepped in and both of them are really helping me out. The support that we people as Fellows or EDGE Heroes receive from the EDGE team is something that I value most.”

Luan says that the team brings him to a new level of conservation – “I have more knowledge to save the species living in my home country.”

Emmanuel – West African slender-snouted crocodile – Ghana – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“They always want to make sure that you come out the best that you can be. It’s interesting to see some of our reports going back and forth. If you look at the final version and you look at the first one, you see that was significant improvement. In fact, after my EDGE Fellowship training we had in Madagascar, I’ve learnt a lot through conservation, and I must say that it has been the turning point in my conservation career – there is no two ways about that.”

Mica – Chacoan peccary – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“I love the courses. I had the first one in Costa Rica, and the second one in London. It was interesting interacting with people from London because the culture is different. Everyone in the team I had to interact with was always super nice. Sometimes conservation gets really hard, and it’s really nice to know that there’s a group of people far away that can help you with something. Even if you don’t need anything, knowing that you are not alone in the middle of the forest just makes you feel connected.”

 

What are you most excited about for the future?

Luan – Botsford’s leaf-litter frog – Vietnam – Fellowship cohort 2018-2020

“I have learned a lot of knowledge and skills from this project, from the EDGE team. Many species of amphibian in Vietnam are facing extinction, facing the same problem of tourism activity in high mountains, so I will bring this knowledge to work with other species in order to save them before they face the same problem as EDGE species.”

Lili – Dwarf gecko – Colombia – Fellowship cohort 2018-2020

“Many things. For example, EDGE helped me to be more serious with my career as a conservationist. We started to create NGO, a government foundation related with geckos in Santa Marta, and we start to communicate with other institutions in the area and talk about this species, start to find new funds to continue this project. I fell in love with this project and all the support EDGE gave to me help me to realise that I really want to do this.”

Sandeep – Purple frog – Kerala, India – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“During the course of this project, being involved in working in all these awareness and outreach activities triggered the teacher in me because I really love learning and I’m confident that I could reach out to students. I’m actually guest faculty at a college at the moment, so learning about these animals and at the same time passing it on to the future generations is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Though the West African slender-snouted crocodile happens to benefit from some protected areas that are already established in Ghana, Emmanuel is excited to create a protected area specifically for this species.

Kini – Hooded grebe – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“I’m collaborating with one of the new fellows. A girl from Mexico has this project with these seabirds in some islands of Baja California, so I’m working with the Davi and her as an advisor, so that’s kind of really cool to keep working on helping the new cohort of Fellows.”

Ali – Hirola – Kenya – Fellowship cohort 2011-2013

“For the future, I’m able to use the history and the lessons and the knowledge I’ve built so far to continue fighting the extinction of this species and I want to this to be a textbook example of a successful conservation story in a part of the world that not a lot of people expect a successful conservation story.”

 

In one word or short phrase, summarise your experience working with EDGE.

Lili – Dwarf gecko – Colombia – Fellowship cohort 2018-2020

Oh my God, exciting. One thing that I think EDGE does for us to improve, is to empower you. To take really seriously your position as a conservationist.”

Luan – Botsford’s leaf-litter frog – Vietnam – Fellowship cohort 2018-2020

“Great experience.”

Sandeep – Purple frog – Kerala, India – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

“Amazing. It’s a really interesting journey with all the interactions, collaboration, and amazing times in the field.”

Emmanuel – West African slender-snouted crocodile – Ghana – Fellowship cohort 2017-2019

Amazing. The experience is just amazing.”

Kini – Hooded grebe – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

A career changing experience.”

Mica – Chacoan peccary – Argentina – Fellowship cohort 2015-2017

“I became more professional in my work and I got to consolidate the groups I work with. I scaled up in the role I have in conservation.”

Ali says “It has been a great supportive conservation family that has helped me tackle a complex conservation problem with really tangible solutions.”