Alain Senghor K. Ngute is an SCB member and one of the recipients of the first annual SCB Graduate Student Research Fellowships. Beginning in 2017, ten $1,000 awards were allocated to graduate student members at SCB.
SCB held a Q&A with Alain to learn more about his research and interest in conservation.
Tell us about yourself and your research.
I am a young conservation biologist, holding a M.Sc. in Ecology and Wildlife Management from the University of Dschang (Cameroon), with thesis related to threatened bird ecology, distribution, diversity, and conservation prospects. I am currently a postgraduate research fellow in Cameroon, mainly interested by the dynamics of tropical socio-ecological systems, including tropical forest ecology and conservation, avian ecology diversity and conservation, NTFPs sustainability, and ecosystem services.
How did you become interested in conservation?
I got passionate about conservation during my undergraduate studies. I have a strong enthusiasm to build a career in conservation science, as expressed by my eagerness to participate in ecological and biodiversity conservation research, as well as implementing research-informed conservation actions.
How long have you been a member of SCB? What have you been involved in during your membership?
My interest in SCB started in 2014 after undergraduate studies when I was selected to participate in the year-long E-mentoring Program hosted by the SCB Africa Section, where I learned to develop project proposal, and at which end I was the ‘best mentee.’
My global SCB membership started two years ago after the e-mentoring programme, as I was also granted a free registration year. Since then, my involvement with SCB activities is through dissemination of information concerning SCB vision, in various platforms and talks to fellow university colleagues. I failed to attend to several SCB regional and global events (ICCB, ACCB , etc.) due to funding limitation.
I have actively participated to the finalization of the African Section operational plan for 2017, and also contributed toward the creation of an SCB Chapter in Cameroon last year, where I am among pioneer members.
I am also serving as Assistant Editor of the African Conservation Telegraph, a newsletter published by the Africa Section of the Society for Conservation Biology, which covers biological conservation and environmental news from scientific and nonscientific related disciplines.
How do you plan to use the research grant?
The SCB Graduate Student Fellowship Award has entirely been dedicated towards the completion of some MSc fieldwork aspects, satellite image data acquisition and processing, thesis preparation and printing prior to public defense which took place recently. I passed it with highest distinction with jury appreciation.
What do you think is the greatest challenge for young conservationists today? How do you overcome that challenge?
Lack of training about some key skills and little field experience are among greatest challenges faced by today’s young conservationists. To overcome this, I have been participating to several selective mentoring, capacity building and field training schemes (e.g. SCB E-mentoring, PIRE Workshops by the CABAlliance; Tropical Ecology and Conservation field courses by the TBA, etc.), which have given me impulses with some key skills, inspiration and hand-touch experiences, now fueling my enthusiasm to excel in conservation sciences. After this also comes difficult access to funding for conservation work lead by early career scientists, which I still try to overcome.
Anything else you'd like to add?
The SCB Graduate Student Research Fellowship grant scheme has been of great importance for completing my MSc work. I highly appreciate this support and am very grateful for that. Receipt of the research grant has made a fantastic contribution to my personal development as I was able to collect quality data without any compromise due to financial or material limitations. It has also contributed to research and conservation in my country. By providing skills and funds to young conservationists, SCB is contributing in making future biodiversity guardians. I hereby praise you to keep doing so!