Mr Antony Kasanga
I grew up in the southern part of Kenya and only attended secondary school up to 2003. After leaving high school, I joined the Living with Lions project. I did not get a chance to continue with my tertiary education until WildCRU accepted me on their new course, International Wildlife Conservation Practice.
Before joining this course, I had worked for the Living with Lions organization as a research assistant and was later promoted to become an assistant director for the Lion Guardians program. This is program is run by the Living with Lions as one of their efforts of reducing conflict with reflection from the scientific data collected from the field. This was part of Msc. thesis of one student, Leela Hazzah who still runs the Lion Guardians to date.
It is also in collaboration with another conservation organization called Maasailand Preservation Trust.
In my first job, I learned to track and locate lions using radio-telemetry. This is where I developed my interest in lion conservation whereas before I joined the group, I used to lead my fellow warriors (known in my local language as murrans) to hunt lions for fame and retaliation for livestock killed by carnivores.
I really enjoyed working with the Lion Guardians, particularly because it gives young Maasai warriors (murrans) a chance to do something different from what they grew up doing, i.e. hunting of lions known in my language, as Olamayio), while simultaneously providing solutions and income to the community through wildlife conservation. Lion Guardians are trained to use telemetry and GPS to record the position of lions they encounter in their work. Most interestingly none of these men have never been to a class room.
Getting a chance to study with the WildCRU is expanding the skills I learned while working in research and conservation, through meeting conservationists and researchers from all over the world who are members of the large Wildlife Conservation Research Unit.
'When I was in high school, University of Oxford was everyone's dream institution; that one day they will be part of it. Little did it occur to me that I would be one of the students to get a chance to attend a course in Oxford? This is a life time experience for me both academically, socially, and most importantly in developing critical thinking skills about environmental conservation. Attending the course has really enlightened me on how to carry out research. This is something I struggled with before. I have worked in wildlife issues before, but didn't get a chance to explore the scientific part. As such being part of the WildCRU has helped nurture my young mind to understand conservation through a scientific perspective. The Post Graduate Diploma has given me a chance to face the future with courage and determination to solve environmental problems. This is most important to me as an up and coming conservation scientist who would not have had a chance to advance in education. Tubney house has some of the nicest people who are always ready to extent a helping hand whenever I am in need. This has become a second home for me and will never forget my experience here.' 16th December 2009.
I am also interested in the mitigation of human carnivore conflict and providing an alternative to the cultural killing of lions that has the same prestige and fame to lion hunts in the pastoral Maasai community, perhaps a Maasai Olympics.