At Wild Planet Trust we are passionate about protecting our wild spaces and the endangered animals that live there. We have dedicated team members who co-ordinate our conservation projects which operate within the UK and overseas. Dr Andrew Bowkett (or Andy as he is known to us), is our Conservation Planning and Partnerships Manager, and he is responsible for co-ordinating our overseas projects.
- Andy, tell us a little about your role at Wild Planet Trust
I’ve worked at the Trust since 2007, but I was here even before that as a student and volunteer. For most of that time I have been responsible for the coordination of our global conservation programmes. These are projects run in collaboration with partner organisations to save species in the wild although they often have strong links with the animals we care for at our zoos. More recently, I have also been supporting our Chief Science Officer with strategic planning for many different aspects of our conservation mission.
- What have been the highs and lows during your time at Wild Planet Trust?
There have been many highs! I have been very fortunate to visit some extraordinary places where we support conservation including the Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania and North Sulawesi in Indonesia. What’s been great about supporting some of these programmes over many years is seeing the progress made and the development of students and research assistants into conservation leaders running their own projects. A definite low point was the first COVID lockdown when the zoos were forced to shut to the public and there was a real risk of permanent closure of all our zoos and field projects.
- What’s one thing you believe we can all do to make a positive change for wildlife?
We all need to think critically about the consequences of our lifestyles, especially in terms of what we buy and how we travel, but probably the most important thing is to vote for the political parties promising to take the most decisive action on climate change and environmental issues (if you’re old enough!).
- If you could achieve one thing over the forthcoming 12 months what would it be?
I would love to see a clear commitment from the government of Ogun State in Nigeria to protect the Omo Forest where we work with the Nigerian Conservation Foundation in a way that saves the forest elephants living there and also benefits the people who live nearby.
- Tell us some of your fondest memories working at Wild Planet Trust
I have some great memories of working in the old monkey house when I was a student, the facilities were much more basic than the primate enclosures we have now, but we worked hard with the keepers to get browse and provide enrichment. Many encounters with wildlife whilst visiting our conservation programmes have also been special: encountering elephants on foot, walking amongst habituated monkey groups and catching extremely rare frogs in buckets all spring to mind!
- We understand that you will be visiting Omo Forest in Nigeria, one of our overseas conservation sites. What’s the main thing you hope to achieve whilst you are over there?
We want to check up on our projects and build on our relationships with project partners, but the main thing is to push for the greater protection of Omo Forest, as mentioned above. We will be meeting with government officials and local community representatives to hear their side of things and advocate for conserving the remaining natural forest in the area.
When Andy returns from Nigeria we will update you all on his progress, so be sure to check back soon.