Essay competition winners come up with bright ideas for protecting wild animals

Young people are the future of animal conservation and welfare. Every new generation of conservationists will have to continue the groundwork set out by generations before them, and continue to pave the way for the protection of animals and the places they call home.

That’s why we’re so proud to be partners with the University of Winchester’s Centre for Animal Welfare, which offers a fantastic Masters course in Animal Welfare, Science, Ethics and Law that allows students to develop well-rounded, transferable skills relevant to all careers in conservation.

As part of our partnership, IFAW and the University of Winchester have launched an annual essay competition designed to challenge student’s thinking and creative abilities on conservation issues, and to offer dedicated students the chance to broaden their networks within the animal charity sector.

This year, we asked students to write an essay exploring ‘the impact that humans are having on wild animals’, and to demonstrate how positive or attitudinal changes had been achieved, and challenge conventional thinking. We had many fantastic entries: the winner was a fascinating essay from Shannon Noelle Rivera that looked at corruption in CITES and the International Wildlife Trade. Shannon challenged conventional systems by discussing the development of anti-corruption model strategies by NGOs and whistle-blower schemes, and it was refreshing to have a focus on innovative solutions, not simply problems.

Our runners up, Holly Hackney and Alice Oven, also presented outstanding entries. Holly focused on the issues affecting sharks and current methods of shark conservation, in particular the use of modern new technologies being used to combat the trade in shark fins, such as DNA barcoding to help with shark species identification. Alice’s essay contrasted the two controversial examples of trophy hunting and extreme wildlife management to demonstrate the true power of public engagement, support and protest. Her discussion of how a united public voice has the power to impact animal welfare was well thought-out and engaging – and it’s a topic we’re really passionate about here at IFAW.

A huge congratulations to all three of these students for their outstanding essays, which you can read here:

Partnerships, youth engagement and the building of networks are key to conservation. We’re so pleased that this competition has enabled these three talented students to gain recognition, which will hopefully help their future careers in animal conservation and, in turn, contribute to our overall vision of a better world for animals and people!

Next week, on 5 March, I’ll also be giving a talk at the University of Winchester on how technology can be used to fight the illegal wildlife trade. It would be great to see some IFAW supporters there – you can book your free ticket here.

--PM

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