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I have recently been accepted to the Masters of Science programme in Conservation and International Wildlife Trade at the University of Kent to start in September 2017. I am excited to be given the opportunity to further specialise my education in a topic that is so important to me. Due to my international status obtaining scholarships is difficult so I am looking for assistance from anyone and everyone! By supporting my MSc education you are giving a dedicated and passionate conservationist the chance to make a difference in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
I am a dual citizen of the USA and South Africa. I grew up in the former but have made the latter my home for the past 8 years while attending university and working. My undergraduate degree is in Nature Conservation for which I did a practical year on Tswalu Kalahari Reserve in South Africa as a conservation management intern. While I will attend university in the UK for this MSc I have every intention of returning to the African continent for the research aspect of this programme as well as to work afterwards. My interests lie in central, west, and east Africa where the illegal wildlife trade is most prevalent.
Working in conservation in Africa exposes you to the wildlife trade every day, often in doses so small you don’t always realise it. There are so many species at risk and so many routine practices to fight decline, the bigger picture can easily be lost. While working in wildlife management I have been able to experience many of these routines that can be seen as battles in the larger war. It is while working in Malawi that I have seen first-hand the devastating effect bushmeat poachers can and have had on protected areas. The loss of elephants and rhinoceros creates its own problems ecologically and economically but the trade for bushmeat and traditional medicine decimates every other species, creating effective dead zones. Kasungu National Park in Malawi saw a 93% decrease in biomass in just 22 years. Visitors to this park are now a rare occurrence and it has disappeared from the tourist maps. Kasungu is one of many African parks that have become a casualty of the international wildlife trade and one of many that needs more people fighting for it. The vast majority of my conservation experience has been on the African continent and I intend to return to complete the research portion of this programme as well as continue my career after graduation.
My experience in Malawi has shown me where help is needed with regards to law enforcement and conservation education. Being one of the poorest countries in the world, conservation is often the lowest priority and most children grow up not realising how important it is in their lives, even in the background. As a result, poaching is incredibly high and corruption fuels the wildlife trade. At this point I have no solid plans in place but I would like to return to Malawi to complete my MSc dissertation on the illegal bushmeat trade in this country.
Tuition: £17 210
Books, IT, other supplies: £200
Living expenses: £7 680
My budget as above is for my entire year while studying. As an international student it is difficult to find scholarships that I qualify for so right now tuition is my main aim to cover.
I have already applied for a small scholarship from the University of Kent and will be entering competitions to hopefully win a bit more. Along with these, this crowdfunding is meant to top up the remaining tuition or for living expenses. As my research project is not yet designed or proposed I cannot determine the possible funding needed. Any additional funds beyond my target will be used toward this.
I do not expect to gain full funding from one source and am investigating many possible avenues with regards to scholarships. Any help at all would be immensely appreciated and reduces my future financial load if I am forced to get a loan to fund my studies. Any scholarship represents an opportunity for me to fully focus my attention on getting all that I possibly can out of this programme. Money is often the lacking element in a cause, however the conservation industry is also missing enough truly devoted people willing to join what is most certainly a war. I am a good fighter for the cause because I put everything of myself into what I do. My career is my life and in a war with little cause for optimism, I am a good bet. By assisting in funding my further education you are supporting a lifetime of commitment and dedication to conservation and fighting wildlife crime for a better environment for everyone’s future.
If you are unable to financially support me there are other ways to help me out! Please share this project with anyone you think would support me – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence, or on your blog.
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