Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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Human-Wildlife Conflict training
Here is a letter from Chris Lentaam who was sponsored by the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Zoological society to attend Human Wildlife Conflict training:
I attended a Human Wildlife Conflict Training from 12 through 16 March 2012. I appreciate the opportunity given to me by the Cleveland Metro-parks Zoo/Cleveland Zooloigical Society and Action for Cheetahs in Kenya. I was very happy to attend the conference to learn about Conflict Mitigation and to meet many other people in my field
We met in Nanyuki for transport to Ol Pejeta where four of us travelled in a vehicle to our destination. The services at the facility were very good. On the first evening and morning we networked each other through interactive games.
The first two days of training we were given papers to read and learn about conflicts. We were divided into groups to role play and act out the conflicts. We learned how to identify the problem and how to discuss it. We learned that conflict cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be resolved and reconciled. A combination of solutions will often be needed when solving a conflict.
Later groups were formed to tackle our own issues. Each group identified the one among ourselves that was the most difficult to present to the whole class. After the presentation the other class members became the mitigators and suggested the means of approaching the people with whom the conflict affected. Together we learned how to solve our own conflict issues.
The class stressed that solving the conflict was a matter of letting the person/organization in conflict to be the main character. As the mitigator my role is as the listener. Prior to the class I thought my situation was complicated, but realized that my issues are not as complicated as some.
The first solution when I am in conflict with an individual or a group is to lower my temper, and to give the person/people time to lower their temper. It is then important to listen to the person with the conflict and let the person tell me what to do. When the person in conflict gives me solutions I can then use short questions to allow the person to provide answers to the conflict.
For example when a cheetah kills a goat… The person with the conflict may give the solution of killing or removing the cheetah. My questions to them would be:
When two people or groups are in conflict I need to identify the root of the issue by being the mitigator between them. Here also it is important to listen to both sides and to ask each to give potential solutions.
The people I met at the conference come from many countries. This was a great opportunity for me to meet people who work in a variety of roles in conservation and wildlife. I have made connections with people from Kenya and internationally that will help me in the future and as my career grows.
When conflict occurs in the Meibae Conservancy I am based at the headquarters and can now be the first person to assist in finding solutions to the conflict. I have shared the skills learned at the conference with the managers and rangers of Meibae and with the ACK staff. As we begin the next phase of research into cheetah-conflict mitigation, I am now prepared to be the leader of our efforts.
With the knowledge from this training I can assist ACK and the Meibae Conservancy to set up data collection and mitigation programmes to assist the community with tolerance for predators, especially the cheetah.
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