Monday, February 25, 2008

Congrats to Shivani Bhalla!!

Congratulations to lion researcher Shivani Bhalla for being named a Charlotte Fellow by the African Wildlife Foundation. I was lucky enough to get to spend a few days with Shivani when I was last in Samburu, looking for Albert, the baby elephant I had seen born in 2005. Shivani is a native of Kenya and is obtaining her Ph.D from Oxford. She is studying lions in my favorite park in Kenya, and as part of her work looking at lion predation on the endangered grevy's zebra - my favorite type of zebra. She's appeared on this blog before because she has been to Gabon and was kind enough to share some of her photos of the trip - which were amazing!

In honor of Shivani I post today two photos of her favorite lioness, Pixie. I saw Pixie and her mate on a hunt my last day in Samburu, but they were chased off by some elephants before they could go in for the kill. Shivani's blog, Ewaso Lions, is featured on the links on the left and if you want to read about her recent work, including her last sighting of Pixie, click on her field diary section. I contacted Shivani when the political problems began in Kenya and was pleased to hear that she is fine. Samburu is such an amazing place I can't imagine how hard it must be for her to leave and go to the UK to study now and then. I am very happy for her and wish her well.

AWF is my favorite charity, in part because they help train and support AFRICAN researchers rather than sending in researchers from the west. It is critical that the local people support conservation efforts or they are doomed to fail, and having scientists from African countries invested in conservation is a huge step in the right direction.

This year AWF honored four African women researchers with a Charlotte Fellowship. While I don't personally know any of the other three, I'm thrilled to see the programs they are working on. Galebotswe Pelotshweu will study reintroduced rhinos in Moremi National Park in Botswana. (I was just in that park a few weeks ago and I loved it, but saw no rhinos). Gladys Ng'umbi is working on natural resource management around Arusha National Park in Tanzania. Ifura Ukio is researching human-lion conflict with the Maasai around Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. Congrats to all of these women!

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