The inception of SMACON traces back to a four-day hike through the breathtaking Afi Mountains Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016, an area deemed a protected zone. However, it became evident that not all animals within this sanctuary were receiving equal protection. On-the-ground conservation efforts predominantly centered around megafauna, leaving smaller species vulnerable and largely unmonitored. This imbalance translated into local communities showing greater reverence for megafauna, while small-bodied mammals, particularly bats, faced rampant and unregulated hunting. Recognizing this emergent issue, the concept for SMACON took root. The organization emerged with the vision to rectify this dichotomy, conducting vital research, fostering local support, and advocating for evidence-based conservation practices to ensure the survival of all mammalian species within the ecosystem.
In the face of substantial anthropogenic threats, including habitat destruction and bushmeat hunting, mammals and their habitats are under significant peril. The predominant conservation emphasis on “charismatic megafauna” has led to limited protective measures for smaller mammals, such as bats, rodents, and pangolins. In addressing these challenges, SMACON endeavors to pioneer basic ecological and conservation research as a foundational step for intervention plans that not only support local livelihoods but also enhance local capacity. The ultimate aim is to influence government policies regarding species conservation, recognizing the need for evidence-based conservation practices.
The West Africa Mammal Partnership (WAMP) and Fellowship (WAMF) programs have been established with the overarching goal of addressing existing gaps in biodiversity conservation, particularly concerning small mammals in West Africa. These initiatives operate through a multifaceted approach aimed at significantly altering the trajectory of biodiversity loss in the region and ensuring a sustainable future for these crucial species. A core tenet of the program is the unwavering commitment to utilizing conservation evidence as the cornerstone for effective intervention strategies. The Mammal Partnership represents a collaborative effort on both a multi-regional and international scale, involving institutions and universities.
To implement these initiatives, regional in-country partners play a vital role in the recruitment and collaborative supervision of fellows within existing projects. The support structure for fellows is a collaborative effort between local and international partners, exemplified by WAMP. Consequently, fellows benefit from the guidance of both in-country and international mentors. Beyond mentorship, the program offers comprehensive training covering hands-on field techniques, specialized topics in ecology, and essential skills such as Geographic Information System (GIS), statistics, and molecular techniques. Additionally, fellows receive a valuable mini-grant and gain access to necessary equipment.
The primary objective of this program is to enhance the research and conservation capabilities of West African postgraduate students, focusing on small mammals. This capacity-building initiative unfolds in two stages: firstly, a combination of classroom and field courses, and secondly, an extensive mentorship program. By providing this structured framework, the WAMP and WAMF programs aspire to empower the next generation of conservation practitioners in West Africa, fostering expertise and commitment to the preservation of small mammal species.
- Research grant
- Book and equipment loans
- Mentorship from renowned scientists
- Network and collaborate
- Join the West Africa Mammal Partnership, post-Ph.D
- The Fellowship will run for the duration of Postgraduate studies.
- Bilingual communication – English and French, for field course and all communications.
Requirements For The SMACON Post Graduate Fellowship
- Applicants must be admitted to or enrolled into a post graduate program in a West African University.
- Applicant’s supervisor must be one of the partners of the West Africa Mammal Partnership
- Applicants must be keen on small mammal research and conservation.
- Intended Research for Postgraduate student must be conducted in West Africa and based on Small mammal studies and conservation.
- Applicant must be available to attend a 2-week intensive field course.
- Candidates must fill online application form before the deadline.
- All applicants will be reviewed by a team of conservation and research experts
- Selected applicants will be contacted for an all-expense paid 2 weeks field course.
- All applicants are to submit carefully designed project proposals 2 weeks post-field course.
- Approved projects will be notified, and owners awarded fellowships.
- Fellows will be assigned mentors and become eligible for all associating fellowship benefits.
Method of Application
Application Deadline: January 25, 2024.
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