The seventh Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL) class successfully concluded in December 2018. The 2017/2018 class was selected from a highly competitive pool of over 120 applicants. The final cohort was made up of twenty-four impressive emerging conservation professionals from organizations within the United States, from Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya and Honduras, the class had representatives from governmental, private and not-for-profit sectors ensuring a diverse set of skills and perspectives.
Participants came together for three in-person trainings over the two-year program. Training topics were selected to prioritize specific skills and knowledge needs with topics being covered by specialists in the leadership and conservation fields. Additionally, individuals received formal and informal one-on-one mentoring sessions at each training with members of the EWCL Board of Directors and guest speakers.
In addition to the formal training sessions the class broke into teams to undertake four conservation projects, in collaboration with established organizations, to benefit imperiled wildlife. These campaigns focused on the following initiatives: (1) Reduce Grizzly Bear mortality in Northeast Washington State by identifying conflict hotspots and local knowledge gaps, followed by investigating and implementing mitigation measures to address the results; (2) Support reintroduction plans for rehabilitated Grauer’s Gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo through investigation and research of gorilla-appropriate remote monitoring technologies and supportive fundraising, awareness and education campaigns; (3) Support North American Amphibian conservation by creating a collaborative resource for amphibian conservation specialists to provide knowledge and conservation actions for public engagement; (4) Protect the critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill in Indonesia through local SMART enforcement methodology training and educational/outreach videos aimed at recruiting rangers, and educating communities and political leaders. In total, EWCL Class seven raised $49,050 for conservation, and an additional $11,000 of in-kind support for these initiatives.
With the graduation of EWCL Class 7, EWCL has successfully trained over 150 conservation professionals from more than 20 countries. EWCL alumni are represented in over 100 organizations. To date, EWCL class conservation campaigns have supported the conservation of 30 imperiled species, collectively raising more than $150,000 in support of these species, and brought widespread benefits and visibility to the plight of these animals and their habitat.