One presentation which stood out from the rest was by Dr. Krithi Karanth, from the Wildlife Conservation Society, on the importance of citizen science in instigating conservation leadership. Her talk described how involving local people in tiger population monitoring has been instrumental to building public support for tiger conservation in India: 5000 citizen scientists were gathered over 30 years, of which ten percent became professional conservation biologists, with many others still engaged in conservation activities. Krithi concluded that “we need to move beyond just holding graduate programmes in conservation leadership”.
On the whole, I found it was a useful session, giving a broad overview of the key topics covered by courses on Conservation Leadership around the world (which we had also covered in our CEED training course), as well as providing new ideas on how conservation leadership can be fostered through NGO-based programmes and within the general public itself. I was particularly interested in the talks by Marianne Carter and Krithi Karanth, which gave some clear case-studies of conservation leadership skills in action. The main message that I took away from the session was that there is a growing recognition that conservation practitioners need extra training in leadership skills in order to make their conservation activities more effective. Being an expert conservation scientist is just not enough!
Here are some tweets about the symposium from fellow CEED early-career leader Megan Evans: