For the past few weeks a former EDGE Fellow, Grace Wambui Ngaruiya has been visiting the UK. EDGE supported Grace’s research in the Boni and Dodori ecosystems in Kenya that led to the discovery of a potentially new species of elephant shrew. Before Grace returned to Kenya she was asked a few questions about her visit to the UK and her future plans by Camellia, who is working with EDGE as part of this year’s Vodafone World of Difference programme.
Camellia: Why are you visiting the UK?
Grace: I came to UK for two main reasons. First, to attend the Student Conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) at Cambridge which was held between the 22nd to 24th April 2011. I presented a poster on some of my work on elephant-shrews entitled “Role of culture and faith on conservation of elephant-shrew”. It was a very wonderful experience meeting many upcoming conservation students with impressive scientific work from all over the world.
Second, SCCS funded me to attend a two week internship course at ZSL under the supervision of Dr. Raj Amin whom is closely involved with Kenya conservation issues. During the two weeks I developed a community biodiversity survey which I will administer to the Awer community next month through questionnaires and focus group discussions. The information will then be used to develop a biodiversity management plan for the almost pristine Boni and Dodori National Reserves, Kenya.
Camellia: Do you still work on elephant-shrews?
Grace: Yes, I still work on the elephant-shrews but with a wider focus our work on conservation of the habitat especially after discovery of the unrecorded species at Boni-Dodori areas.
Camellia: What is next in your career?
Grace: I am starting my PhD studies after getting a scholarship from the German – DAAD organisation to study in University of Hamburg from April 2011. The study will focus on ecosystem services and a little on climate change in conservation of biodiversity in Africa.
Camellia: Do you think EDGE has helped you get to where you are today?
Grace: Yes, EDGE has contributed greatly to my career in conservation. First, funding to conduct my research in Boni and Dodori ecosystems enabled me to discover the unrecorded elephant-shrew species that lead to the discovery of a new unknown population of Ader’s duiker which has emphasised the urgent need to conserve the habitat. Secondly, the training I got as an EDGE fellow in 2008 exposed me to modern conservation strategies like camera traps, how to fund raise for conservation, how to handle interviews and writing short effective communication articles. So much practical knowledge that I now pass on to my students in Kenya.
Camellia: What did you do during the weekends while in the UK?
Grace: During the week I have been invited for three outings by ZSL-CP staff members who are all social and wonderful to be around. We went to the Social club for drinks before going to a Vietnamese restaurant for dinner (Yummy). The day before I left UK, we travelled to Chelsea and had dinner on Helen’s boat (Italian food!!). On the final day of my internship we went to the Social club for drinks.
For the weekends – First weekend: On Saturday I took a long walk to Regent’s park enjoying the quiet surroundings. On Sunday I went to Oxford Street for some little shopping. For the second weekend I went to Birmingham and it was a lovely experience, I loved the Bullring and took photos by the canal. Too bad the weather is clearing up as I prepare to leave UK….
The EDGE team would like to wish Grace the best of luck with her PhD studies and we hope Grace enjoyed her visit as much as we did!
If you would like to support new and existing EDGE Fellows conduct more research into EDGE species and the habitats in which they are found you can do so here.