During my graduate studies, I took a few months off to volunteer on a protected area mapping project which, at the time, aimed to compile the available spatial information on Africa’s protected area network into a single Google earth layer.
I was fortunate enough to join a small group of friends and conservation enthusiasts on the West Africa leg of the project, where we traveled across several countries including Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. Being able to visit some of the remaining wild areas in these countries and see the iconic wildlife which they support was nothing short of a childhood dream for me. The trip also provided us with plenty of opportunities to engage with a wide range of people living and working alongside these areas, which provided me with some much-needed perspective of the role and consequences of natural resource management.
Having seen first-hand many of the conservation challenges faced by Africa’s forests and savannas, I was enthused to continue with my graduate studies in savanna ecology and pursue a career as an environmental scientist.