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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Networking and Mosquito Bites for Conservation

  Jonas with a young conservationist from Kupu on rocksJonas Kambale Nyumu with a young conservationist from Kupu – a Hawaiian NGO. Photo by MENTOR-POP

The IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii brought together more than 10,000 participants from 192 countries to discuss and find ways to address the most urgent conservation and sustainable development challenges such as wildlife trafficking. Jonas Kambale Nyumu and Linh Nguyen Ngoc Bao attended the IUCN Congress on behalf of MENTOR-POP (Progress on Pangolins), an 18-month program by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Zoological Society of London. Based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, MENTOR-POP is developing a trans-disciplinary team of nine early-career Central African and Asian conservation practitioners with academic and field-based training and internships to champion the conservation of the three Congo Basin pangolin species. All eight species of pangolins in the world are in peril due to international trafficking for their scales and meat. In perhaps a turning point, pangolins received increased protections last week under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Jonas’ report on IUCN:

The IUCN World Conservation Congress was my first big opportunity to network with global professional conservationists, especially ‘pangolin people’ - that’s what I call pangolin experts! It was great to jump into deep discussions with them about pangolins. Little is known about pangolin populations in Central Africa, so all advice and shared experiences are very helpful for determining distribution and abundance of pangolins and for figuring out how to ensure their survival in the future. 

  Jonas between two othersJonas gave a presentation about bushmeat.

But after discussing at length the dire threats to pangolins in Central Africa, including the unsustainable bushmeat trade, I needed something a little light-hearted. I found it, joining a “conservation campus,” a short, interactive training and capacity-building session built around peer-to-peer learning and academic sessions. The conservation campus I attended was led by U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, and hosted by a Hawaii-based Youth Conservation Corps, Kupu.  We met with young leaders who have experience working in Youth Conservation Corps. Then we participated in a service project removing invasive plants and planting native species along a stream. 

  Linh Nguyen Ngoc Bao plants a treeLinh Nguyen Ngoc Bao plants Hawaiian native tree by MENTOR-POP

We all got dirty and wet with mosquito bites, too! But it’s all about networking with young professionals, having fun and all above, learning and doing good things for nature and the local community. A Hawaiian from Kupu later on took us around Honolulu for hiking to see the beautiful Oahu Island, snorkeling to observe an amazing diversity of fish and marine life in Hanauma Bay and taking photos with sea turtles around the island’s North Shore. 

Thank you to WWF’s Education for Nature Program, which enabled me to attend the congress.  

This was my first time going to the beach and learning how to swim. And it’s Hawaii! How many people have that experience?


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