Hans Cosmas Ngoteya
Organization: Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization. Project Manager. Tanzania.
ICCS BIODIVERSITY FELLOW
I grew up in Arusha, Northern Tanzania. I was among the lucky few to have gone through an education system. Arusha town is close to the famous Serengeti plains and Kilimanjaro National Park, and is hub for wildlife, making tourism a leading activity and source of income. While growing up, I had a passion for wildlife and had a great desire to work as a tour guide or park ranger. My interest led me to pursue a Diploma in Wildlife Management at the College of African Wildlife Management – CAWM based in Tanzania.
During my education I realised that there are more opportunities for me to pursue than just being a tour guide or a ranger in the field of conservation. Over time, I developed a passion to educate others about conservation. I felt the need for people to understand that it’s the responsibility of everybody to conserve. I feel conservation has largely been left for Park rangers, researchers and tour guides but I believe in collective responsibility. Therefore, I have been an ambassador for sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of all. My goal is to create broad awareness on wise use of natural resources and engaging communities in reversing and abandoning activities that are harmful to our environment and reduce over dependency of natural resources.
This was cemented after meeting Prof. Tim Caro and Prof. Monique Borgerhoff Mulder from the University of California. In their attempts to combine research and conservation activities they have mentored me through the establishment and expansion of a youth conservation and education programme in Western Tanzania. I feel I have learnt innumerable lessons working as part of team of scientists, conservationists and localized specialists whose on the ground grassroots activities sow the seeds for broader environmental understanding, changed behaviour and ultimately policy change.
What made you want to join ICCS as a Biodiversity fellow?
I applied to ICCS to obtain the privilege of learning from professionals who have experience from different fields, and to network with the broader conservation community. Being part of the amazing elite team is a great platform for me to develop my conservation skills and gain knowledge from the leading conservationists and learn sophisticated skills in addressing the 21st century conservation challenges. I am very excited and I am looking forward to it.
Is there a specific project you will be working on while you are with ICCS? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I will learn how to produce a research instrument that measures the success of my programme. The project I am coordinating (VIMA) is setting up in new villages and I want to administer a baseline survey to collect data on knowledge, attitudes and practices within the new villages which I will then compare to a repeat survey after two years. I would like to subject the project to an evaluation to monitor progress. In particular, I will learn something about social network theory in Oxford, to trace the incentives and how environmental ideas spread through a community, with the ultimate goal of determining how best to target interventions.
Human dimensions of conservation must go hand in hand with development of environmental policies. Failure to do so, as it has been in the past, leads to fatal failure of many conservation efforts. Therefore, I am interested in studying how best we can improve conservation efforts, interventions, and environment policies by meeting day to day needs of communities living adjacent to the natural resource hot spots.
I learned this as a result of observing varying trends while dealing with youth in my project. While activities were designed to appeal to individuals of a wide range of ages (10-21and 22-35 years), and included seminars, environmental classes, conservation films, sports and National Park visits. I began to notice that while attendance in the younger age brackets was growing, the number of youth aging from 22-35 decreased over time. After making this observation, I teamed up with my colleagues and we held interviews with them, to investigate the change in attendance.
What we found out was, they had many responsibilities at household level, and the time they spent in the project activities reduced the time spent in conducting activities that can generate income to support their household. We have since resolved to change our approach to youth aging 22 -35 by introducing sustainable income generating projects. We assist youth in identifying different economic opportunities in their villages and we support them by educating and financing them to start the activities that are ecologically sustainable. This had gradually increased the number of youth participating in our conservation education activities. I learned from my mentors that this is adaptive management.
Accordingly my research interests are now moving towards learning how to monitor much more precisely the effects of my environmental education interventions. Not only how much the different age categories enjoy the activities, but what they learn and how they disseminate the new knowledge about the environment throughout the broader community.
2016, Attended the Annual Pathway conservation conference held in Kenya. Where I was trained to increase professionalism and effectiveness in the human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management. Hosted by Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado state University.
2015, Founder of Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization (LCMO)
2014- Project Manager on Youth Conservation Education project, Vijana na Mazingira (VIMA)
2014 - Research Associate University of California, Davis.
2014, Together with participant from Tanzania and Saudi Arabia during Tanzania-Saudi Youth Dialogue Forum we delivered special messages on issues of Construction and implementation of the regulatory framework for biodiversity conservation to both the President of the United Republic of Tanzania H.E Jakaya Kikwete and King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. http://www.tanzaniaparks.com/news/tanzania-saudi-youth.html
2013, Basic Tracker in anti-poaching- Grid-Arendal and East African Tracker Society
2012-2014, Awarded Diploma in Wildlife management at College Of African Wildlife Management- CAWM
Young Explorer Grant, by National Geographic Society