In late May 2013 a group of people from the UK, Malaysia, Colombia, Ireland, Italy and India gathered for a barbeque in the garden of cottage in a Welsh mountain village to say goodbye to their new friend from Madagascar, Darwin Fellow Voahirana Randriamamonjy, at the end of her 10 months of study at Bangor University.
Voahirana works for Madagasikara Voakajy (MV), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Madagascar which worked in partnership with Bangor University on a Darwin Initiative main project. The project contributed to the development of a national strategy to reduce the hunting of wild animals (including lemurs) for food.
Building on Darwin project experience
Voahirana’s Darwin Fellowship allowed her to obtain an MSc in Conservation and Land Management at Bangor University in Wales. Voahirana was able to get the training she needed whilst also building and developing a link between her organisation and the National Zoo of Wales which has provided financial support for lemur conservation in Madagascar.
The fellowship was an enormous success. Voahirana excelled academically on her masters course (getting one of the best marks for her module on Conservation Biology) and presented her research at an international conference at the University of Cambridge.
Building links between the UK and Madagascar
Voahirana co-organised a fund-raising evening at the National Zoo of Wales. 120 people enjoyed Malagasy food, music and dancing and a speech from Voahirana about MV’s work in Madagascar inspired many to make generous donations.
Voahirana will apply what she has learnt while doing field work for her MSc dissertation on methods to reduce illegal hunting of wild animals for food in Madagascar and in her future work for MV.
Reflections on the Darwin Fellowship
Reflecting on her time in the UK, Voahirana said:
The Darwin fellowship was a great opportunity for me to benefit from high-level training and research instruction, which is not available on Malagasy postgraduate courses. This fellowship also improved my capacity in research design and writing academic quality English. Now, I am delighted to share my new skills with my colleagues to strengthen our organisation.