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Protecting Colombia’s Critically Endangered

By on April 26, 2013 in EDGE Fellows, Mammals, ZSL

My whole life I’ve dreamed of venturing into the forests and wild places of my country of Colombia. Now, a childhood dream has become a reality and I spend my days travelling through my beautiful country, experiencing its different ecosystems and habitats, contemplating the magnificence of its natural landscape and biodiversity.

I am a Biology graduate and my interest is in the study and conservation of Colombia’s biodiversity, especially mammals. I am especially keen on working with local communities to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to conservation that encourages local stakeholders to participate in, and take ownership of, local biodiversity conservation. I strongly believe that local communities have traditional knowledge, skills, and techniques that can contribute hugely to the process of conservation. The support of local stakeholders also increases the likelihood of long term success.

Through my EDGE Fellowship, which focuses on Handley’s slender mouse opossum, I am starting another new chapter. Like a lot of EDGE species, Handley’s slender mouse opossum is very poorly known. The species was first described in 1981, based on two specimens collected in 1950, and then rediscovered in 2011 and there remains a paucity of information. What we do know is that conversion of forest habitat to agriculture is likely to severely threaten Handley’s slender mouse opossum, which does not occur in any protected areas, but that no conservation measures are currently in place.  

A lot of my work will focus on collecting basic information on the species’ distribution, ecological requirements, habitat preferences and the threats they face. This information will help me to formulate a plan of conservation action for the species, which I will go on to implement towards the end of my EDGE Fellowship.

At the same time as collecting this important baseline data, I’ll be working with local communities to develop an environmental education programme that will focus on strengthening the skills and capabilities of the community to protect Handley’s slender mouse opossum and its habitat.

Daira Ximena is a member of our newest cohort of EDGE Fellows. To learn more about her project, please visit her community page.