2010 Herschel and Peggy Post Fellowship Winner
Toky Hery Rakotoarinivo, Madagascar
Nominated by former Earthwatch PI, Dr Pat Wright, and joined Dr Luke Dollar’s ‘Carnivores of Madagascar’ research expedition in July 2010.
A student in the Department of Paleontology and Biological Anthropology, University of Antananarivo, Toky is currently studying for a Diplôme d'Etudes Approfondies (D.E.A) in Primatology. The D.E.A. is considered equivalent to a Master of Philosophy (M.Phil).
During the project Toky participated in a wide variety of tasks; checking traps, processing anesthetised animals, monitoring anesthetised animals, ecological monitoring and biodiversity assessments, ground-truthing for satellite image analysis of habitats, trail marking and mapping, and checking trails/roads for wildlife or radio signals.
“The opportunity to participate in this project allowed me to enhance my skills in terms of biodiversity conservation and especially to enrich my knowledge about carnivores of Madagascar”
As well as gaining practical research experience the project was an opportunity to develop communication, teamwork and leadership skills. This is something that Toky took full advantage of, particularly concentrating on improving his English because he aspires to attend graduate school in the USA.
Toky is committed to conservation and the environment, and is looking to make use of his new skills in his own work. He really feels that he can make a difference and is keen to teach those around him all that he learnt during the project.
“The greatest impacts of the project to me personally were; it taught me to lead a group (especially a research team), increased my knowledge of carnivores and biodiversity, and increased my skills and experiences of biological conservation”
In October 2010 Toky gave his D.E.A presentation at the University of Antananarivo, on the Brown Mouse Lemur of Ranomafana National Park and cited the support he got from those on the project as helping him to achieve this.
“In the future I would first like to work in conservation. I’d like to lead or be a member of a research team studying threatened species in order to contribute to their conservation. In any case, I’m likely to love and protect the environment and biodiversity.”