16 Jan 2015

Leading the way in conservation

A member of the CLP Award team measuring a Sociable Lapwing chick (Maxim Koshkin)
By Kiragu Mwangi

Eight years ago, during the university summer break, Maxim Koshkin took up an internship at NABU (BirdLife in Germany) where a colleague suggested he apply for a Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) award. Not put off by his lack of fundraising experience, Maxim brought together a team of students and set about planning a research project in the Korgalzhyn wetlands in Kazakhstan, an important habitat for White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala and Sociable Lapwing Vanellus gregarious. The project was a great success: the team established a monitoring scheme, trained young team members and developed new contacts with key local stakeholders. One of the team members is now leading his own youth nature conservation NGO in Russia!

As part of the award Maxim attended to the CLP International Training Course which played a very important role in Maxim´s future involvement in nature conservation.

'It provided me with initial fieldwork, management and communication skills that I needed so much. The experience and enthusiasm of all the students and trainers I met there charged me with a great amount of energy to continue my efforts in nature conservation in my country.'

Following the success of the first project, Maxim was inspired to develop a CLP Follow-up project.

'I felt that there is more to do for conservation of most threatened and most important area in our region. There was also a great opportunity to involve a growing group of young conservationists to do this work in the area.´”

During this project the team fitted a satellite tag to a male Sociable Lapwing. Despite providing three years of important data on its migration route, the team simply could not detect the individual whilst carrying out their regular bird surveys. Finally, in 2010, Maxim caught sight of the special bird - a poignant reunion’ after so long apart!

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Through a combination of university studies, practical field work and real love of nature, Maxim has developed into a well-rounded conservationist who can offer a range of technical skills to other young conservationists in the region. His advice to those starting their careers in conservation is personal and pertinent.

'Never forget how much each of us owes to nature and do your best to preserve as much of its beauty and variety as possible.'

The CLP has now opened the 2015 call for applications

The mission of the Conservation Leadership Programme is to advance biodiversity conservation globally by building the leadership capabilities of early-career conservation professionals working in places where there is a high-degree of biological diversity and limited capacity to address conservation issues.