The Mentor Bushmeat Program
Although the bushmeat crisis has been well documented in Central Africa over the last 15 years, bushmeat hunting in East Africa has not been given the same amount of attention. Conservation organizations and wildlife departments have of course been well aware of poaching and bushmeat trafficking, but the problem had rarely been framed as a bushmeat issue. In order to change this and strengthen institutions and the methods for addressing the bushmeat crisis in East Africa, wildlife professionals in Washington DC teamed up with bushmeat experts across the globe to begin a mentoring program to train wildlife professionals in East Africa to create systemic change. The result of this mentoring project led to the creation of a network to keep these professionals in touch to share information and tackle common challenges.
Through the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program (Mentoring for Environmental Training in Outreach and Resource conservation) the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the College of African Wildlife Managemen Mweka, and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group invested in capacity building, training and career development of emerging conservation leaders in order to build a network of eastern African wildlife professionals who could lead efforts to reduce illegal and unsustainable bushmeat exploitation at local, national and regional levels.
USFWS MENTOR Fellows, Mentors, Dirck Byler (USFWS), Heather Eves (BCTF) and Nancy Gelman (ABCG) who attended the fellowship program's opening ceremony in Mweka
In December 2007, eight USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program Fellows were selected from Kenya, Southern Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to pursue academic studies at the College of African Wildlife Management in order to earn a Post-Graduate Diploma and to obtain one-on-one guidance from field based Mentors (role models/ advisors) who they worked with to conduct bushmeat assessments and implement field projects. One third of the program (6 months) was formal coursework with Fellows based at the College while two thirds was based in the field working directly with their conservation Mentors (12 months). The Fellows developed knowledge, skills, attitudes, and practices to address the illegal bushmeat exploitation in Eastern Africa by focusing on various components of the bushmeat trade Africa by focusing on various components of the bushmeat trade.
The program finished in July 2009 with eight wildlife professionals highly trained to address the bushmeat crisis in their respective countries and organizations. What resulted from this was the creation of BEAN, a budding network to bring organizations, departments, and individuals together to share information and find areas of overlap where they can work together to address bushmeat issues together.
The following organizations were instrumental in developing the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship program:
For more information on the USFWS MENTOR Fellowship Program, please see www.mentorfellowshipprogram.org