Yves Olatoundji (2022)
Alumni Diploma Students
I am an early-career wildlife conservationist from Cotonou, Benin. I got my bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources’ Management from the National University of Agriculture of Benin in 2015. My work focused on assessing the habitat characteristics of the white thighed colobus (Colobus vellerosus) and the sustainable practices used to manage the sacred forest of Kikele, Nothern Benin. I was an intern in a local NGO called “Organisation pour le Développement Durable et la Biodiversité” (ODDB), where I was actively involved in several community-led conservation and development projects until 2017. These projects included monitoring the populations of diurnal primate’s and mammals using camera traps, and a preliminary study on Galago thomasi, a lesser known bushbaby species.
Due to my strong interest in conservation of wildlife, I joined the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2017. In the same year, I also started my Master’s degree at the Université Félix Houphouёt-Boigny in Côte d’Ivoire. My work there focused on the human dimension of a terrestrial protected area management in the center of Côte d’Ivoire. Upon completion of my master degree, I went back to Benin to work once again with ODDB as a biodiversity officer; a position that I led until 2021. Under my leadership and the strong support of my team, we carried out several important wildlife monitoring projects using camera traps. These extensive fieldworks helped us capture many important mammal species, including the Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekeii), the African civet (Civettictis civetta), the common genet (Genetta genetta), the red river hog (Potamochoerus porcus), and the very elusive Walter’s duiker (Philatomba walteri) in the Oueme valley in southern Benin.
Through my experiences, I have come to realize that wildlife conservation in West Africa needs to apply evidence-based methods and rigorous research in order to save endangered animals in the region. I definitely think that this postgraduate Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice at WildCRU will equip me with strong research skills and conservation leadership. I am very excited and looking forward to learning new innovative research methods, rigorous ecological concepts, and most importantly deepen my knowledge on the human dimension of wildlife conservation and management.