article / 1 December 2023

My Experience and Takeaways at the 1st WildlifeScientific Conference 

Pomp!! Color! glamour and jubilation filled the first ever wildlife scientific conference dubbed “Use of Wildlife Science for enhanced Biodiversity Conservation and improved Livelihoods” that took place at the Lake Naivasha Resort, in Naivasha - Kenya, from its very first day of 26th to its close on 28th September, 2023. The conference brought together all kinds of people and sundry, brains with diverse thinking, innovative ideas and resolutions to the innumerable challenges facing wildlife species and their habitats coupled with the ever arching conflicting interactions between humans and wildlife. 


A glimpse of the ambiance of the Lake Naivasha Resort

It all started with a call for abstract submission then one thing led to the other and boom!!! The most colorful scientific congregation event ever in the country happened. No one, not even the organizers based on the undertone whispers thought that it would get that big, it was a dream come true for most of first-timers like us.

Globally gatherings of this magnitude happen, many a time, when global challenges arise and need a resolve. Governments of many countries meet and develop mechanisms, creating global linkages for the implementation of resolutions through established channels such as Multilateral Agreements, conventions, and treaties, setting up strategies to address the challenges. Similarly closer home instruments such as the National Wildlife Strategy 2030 and Sessional paper No. 1 of 2020 on the National Wildlife Policy, provide such guidelines for the relevant institutions to plan and coordinate conferences for wildlife research, promote the use of scientific knowledge and information for policy makers, managers and users with the goal of infusing innovative ideas, develop and adopt new technologies, and coining evidence-based wildlife investments to promote conservation. On the same note Section 50 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 established the Wildlife Research and Training Institute (WRTI), with Section 52 (1K) mandating the Institution to organize for symposia, conferences, workshops and other meetings to promote exchange of views on issues relating to wildlife research and training. In a bid to execute this mandate, WRTI developed its first Strategic Plan 2022-27 with emphasis on the importance to hold both local and international meet ups to promote dissemination and exchange of wildlife research information, the consequent result of this conference. It is in line with this spirit of sharing my research outputs and experiences in primate research and conservation that I booked myself in this gathering. 

I am Presenting!

Armed with my preliminary findings on my MSc study “Understanding the foraging behavior and dispersal patterns of red colobus monkey in natural and agro-ecosystems forests of Tana River Primate National Reserve” under the subheme; initiatives towards wildlife habitat restoration and connectivity, I got to Naivasha for this historical event. This being my first time in such an event I was experiencing mixed feelings; nervous!! And an occasional thin wave of excitement sweeping through as I baptize myself with self-accolades. Within a few seconds on the registration desk I had an outburst of euphoria when a WRTI personnel well known to me exclaimed Rose you are here …you don’t need to queue your name badge is over there…. You are presenting right? She added, Yes I am that’s all I could say before I was handed the presenter badge and a gift bag with some goodies in it. I felt very important!! You know what I mean.

Rita and I at one of the conference hall                                                                                  

Long story short by the time I got myself seated I had met several people some I could recognize despite not placing an eye on them for the past two and half decades but my memory never failed me as we went back in time while exchanging pleasantries. In equal measure there were many I could not recognize or never met before but the feeling for all I met, was mutual. After the many inaugural formalities it was time for the first keynote address and guess who! the one and only Madam Lucy Waruingi, a household feminine in conservation, and I can say among the women presenters that made the women in conservation technology a beam of training excellence and my foundation for this acquired confidence. Her address on Conservation Science and Practice for Harmonized Policy Engagement was full of useful insights into the world of policies and conservation that left many ears longing for more as I remember many requesting for a share of her presentation. Of interest was the way she amazingly captured, using technology of course! the global trends of the diverse wildlife taxas, their worrying dwindling population figures and the associated conservation status labels attached to each taxa, it was incredibly captivating!  It was after this that Rita Orahle from Loisaba conservancy and I were able to catch up with her and Mary Waithira a fellow cohort 1 member from the University of Nairobi. And there we forged a coalition to support one another by attending each other’s presentations though Mary was not presenting


With Rita and Miss Lucy Waruingi 

I was overjoyed to see Rita present on her project “Impacts of the Loisaba Conservancy rhino fence on the behavior of other wildlife species” under the sub theme “Use of new technology in addressing wildlife conservation challenges” the one project that she submitted during pitching; one of my memorable sessions at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. It was fulfilling to see her bring the idea in fruition. Her use of camera traps to gather information, data analysis and presentation skills prowess was a true testimony of a skilled and equipped woman in conservation technology. Cheers for the exceptional investment in skills through the Women in Conservation Technology (WiCT) program


My presentations came in the second day and again on the last day where I presented on behalf of a fellow marine practitioner who could not attend. All the same our presentations were well attended and many asked questions with some requesting for access to more information on our projects. I also happened to visit the exhibition tent and it was elevating to find some work by our very own Dr. Masudi Phyllis in a poster presentation display


Conservation technology solutions

I was fascinated by the interdisciplinary combination of technologies and technological advances in play in the various research fields, filled with remarkable findings. Ranging from camera traps, GPS telemetry devices, bio-loggers, drone based remote sensing surveys, machine learning techniques, e-DNA among others, left my spinning brain in a turmoil of thoughts that I need to do more for conservation. I cannot emphasize more on the need to embrace technology oriented research and technology based solutions in addressing wildlife challenges as it is evident that technology provides important tools for advanced scientific knowledge, unexploited possibilities to monitor global biodiversity with unprecedented speed and precision as well as mitigate conflicts for a sustainable human wildlife coexistence. 

My take-outs

From the conference I vowed to change my conservation adventures to conservation with a purpose, adopting technological approaches and its applicability in my research quests in invigorating conservation based conflict resolutions in my coming soon projects.  





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