23 Oct 2017

Early Career Conservationists learning the ropes of the BirdLife Network

Starting a career in conservation can be hard. That's why BirdLife provides paid internship opportunities across the world. Here's how some of this year's interns have been getting on so far.

2016 intern Laing Lenghieng teaching students at an anti-poisoning education awareness event at Siem Pang High School – Cambodia
2016 intern Laing Lenghieng teaching students at an anti-poisoning education awareness event at Siem Pang High School – Cambodia
By Charlotte Klinting

With support from the Fondation Segré Conservation Fund at FFI, BirdLife is able to provide paid internship opportunities within our regional secretariats. Facilitated by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), the interns work on a focused project and have the opportunity to learn what it is like to work for a conservation NGO – thereby building the bridge between theory and practice. We are now inviting concepts from BirdLife Secretariats for internships starting in 2018.

Starting a career in conservation can be a difficult undertaking. Often there is a requirement to have several degrees, work and field experience and opportunities for paid internships are rare. During the CLP internships, however, the young people who are just starting out in their careers get the opportunity to learn the ropes of BirdLife and produce relevant and applicable results.

In the past, interns have helped draft National IBA Conservation Plans, prepared manuscripts for publication, delivered awareness events, and more. Their work not only helps them start their careers, but also has a real impact on the BirdLife Partners and Secretariat offices. In September 2017, three new early-career conservationists started their internships within BirdLife: Tania Syokau and Vincent Otieno from Kenya and Amady Ndiaye from Mauritania. These are their projects, expectations and impressions.


Supporting the updating of IBA Information in West Africa


"With this internship, I will deepen my knowledge on threats affecting biodiversity in general and birds in particular in Mauritania. As a young conservationist, this is an opportunity to put my theoretical skills into practice”.


For the first time, a CLP intern is providing direct support to a BirdLife Partner – Nature Mauritania – thereby increasing capacity of both organisation and individual.

Amady’s internship is about filling a knowledge gap. When the information on Africa’s Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas was published in 2001, official updates were missing for Mauritania and the information remains scattered. He will therefore be producing a report on six IBA’s in Mauritania and update the World Bird Database. The work will include research and field trips to IBAs to discuss how data can be collected in the most effective way.  Nature Mauritania will host the internship, co-supervised by the IBA Monitoring Officer in the BirdLife office in Dakar. 


Mobilising Local and International Support for Conservation of Migratory Birds through Online Tools and Media 


“For the past month the challenge has been to understand BirdLife’s systems and partnership interactions. Thankfully I have so far received assistance from ever-willing colleagues who are ready to help”.


Vincent Otieno from Kenya is no stranger to bird monitoring, but now he is turning his attention to engaging communities in conservation. During his internship, he will be developing a range of skills in awareness raising, community engagement and the use of online tools and media. More specifically, he will create a Landbirds Forum (FLAP: ‘Friends of Landbirds Action Plan’), an online platform to exchange information between people and organisations in the African-Eurasian region who contribute to the Convention on Migratory Species. The internship will be a great opportunity to mobilise action apply experiences from other countries to the local setting.


Developing capacity to raise funding from institutional donors and coordinate BirdLife Africa’s fundraising


I am excited to network with those that are more experienced in the conservation field and make connections that will be beneficial throughout my career and foster relationships that will blossom into great opportunities“.


Tania has already built up experience campaigns and individual giving fundraising. This internship will allow her to learn more about raising funds from institutions, such as trusts, foundations and multilaterals. The work will include drafting proposals, managing donor relationships and developing fundraising materials, which will all be incredibly valuable to the organisation. But more importantly, Tania will gain new skills through her responsibilities and by working with BirdLife staff.


CLP is now accepting applications for 2018 internships until 16 February 2018


Internships are developed to specifically meet the learning needs and interests of individual applicants and BirdLife International Partnership work programmes. Internship candidates are:

  • early in their conservation career
  • committed to pursuing conservation as a career
  • not already employed by a CLP partner organisation (BirdLife, Fauna & Flora International and Wildlife Conservation Society).
  • come from one of the eligible countries 

The intern is supervised by a designated staff member of BirdLife, who is committed to the success of the internship; co-supervision is acceptable. The internship can also be a collaboration between Regional Secretariat and a BirdLife Partner.

Internship candidates must either (a) be recruited to work with BirdLife specifically for this internship or (b) transition from being an unpaid BirdLife volunteer into a paid CLP intern. If you wish you apply, contact Charlotte Klinting at clp@birdlife.org.

Read here the full internship guidelines and contact a BirdLife Secretariat staff to develop a proposal before the deadline.

Supported by the Fondation Segré Conservation Fund at FFI