2023 marked the primary full yr of Mongabay’s Conservation Reporting Fellowships, that are provided in each Spanish and English; journalists within the English-language program represented six international locations in Africa, Asia and the Americas.The fellowships purpose to fill gaps in international conservation reporting, as our planet faces the unprecedented crises of local weather change, biodiversity loss and the prospects of surpassing the planetary boundaries inside which human life on Earth could thrive.Look forward to 2024 for far more to return, as Mongabay expands and our fellowships develop and evolve with us.
As 2023 attracts to a detailed, so, too, does the primary full yr of Mongabay’s Conservation Reporting Fellowships. Launched at a time of unprecedented planetary upheaval, this system goals to construct a brand new technology of environmental reporters from the world’s biodiversity hotspots. This is the way forward for reporting on Earth as we all know it now — and Earth as will probably be in years to return.
As a planet, we broke data left and proper this yr, from warmth waves to catastrophic storms, floods and fires — in addition to fossil gas manufacturing — all of which push us nearer to the brink of the 9 “planetary boundaries” that decide Earth’s suitability for our presence right here.
It is paramount that journalists from probably the most weak, affected areas of the world are outfitted to report these phenomena as they occur.
To that finish, in 2022, Mongabay established two Y. Eva Tan Fellowship applications, in English and Spanish, to arrange journalists from low- and middle-income tropical international locations with the instruments and alternatives they should deal with this job. Each fellowship includes a cohort of three journalists in every language who work with Mongabay for six months. Ultimately, we hope all fellows will go on to develop into common contributors.
This yr, the primary three cohorts overlapped, representing six international locations within the English-language program: Kenya, the Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, Suriname and India. As fellowship editor of the English-language program, 2023 introduced one among my greatest studying curves ever. This fellowship is framed as a program that mentors and trains the early-career journalists chosen to take part — however it goes each methods. I’m a scholar, too. All 9 fellows have taught me invaluable classes on their international locations, their areas and life on this planet — and I’m grateful for this expertise. Thank you all!
Most vitally, the tales which have emerged from this fellowship, although written and reported 1000’s of miles aside, in seemingly disparate reaches of the world, blatantly present how a lot all of us share in frequent, as we people collectively face the local weather, biodiversity and social justice crises at hand.
Nnimmo Bassey and workforce throughout a go to to a preserved mangrove forest in Kono, Rivers State, Nigeria. Fellow Abdulkareem Mojeed interviewed him following the inaugural Africa Climate Summit. Image courtesy of Nnimmo Bassey.
Fellow Abdulkareem Mojeed witnessed this firsthand, as his reporting took him first to Nairobi in September for the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, which resulted in two Mongabay tales, together with a prelude to COP28 in Dubai (which he additionally lined).
Most fellows reported near house — generally discovering shocking issues they hadn’t recognized about their nation or area. “The story I wrote on tapirs in Suriname was crucial to me, as a result of it offered info on wildlife safety in Suriname I didn’t even know,” says fellow Priscilla Misiekaba-Kia. “It additionally confirmed that the federal government has to do extra to verify the protected areas are actually protected and that sport wardens have adequate sources to do their work.”
A tapir (Tapirus terrestris) in Kabalebo, Suriname. Tapirs are discovered nearly in all places in Suriname, each within the coastal plain the place most individuals reside and within the southern a part of the nation, which is closely forested and consists of nature reserves. Image by Panning Out by way of Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
(And when you haven’t already, take a look at Priscilla’s story on the “Sloth Lady of Suriname” for some uplifting information on conservation with photos that ought to put a smile in your face.)
Some 18,000 kilometers (11,000 miles) away within the Philippines, fellow Jewel S. Cabrera says her first story was particular to her “as a result of except for it being my first Mongabay project, it’s additionally the primary time I realized about plastic pellet air pollution,” a big risk to marine environments and ecosystems, significantly within the area the place she lives. But it wasn’t all grim information — Jewel discovered indicators of hope. And she adopted up this primary piece with a narrative on innovators engaged on seaweed-based alternate options to plastic meals wrappers.
Fellows Calvin Rock and Mactilda Mbenywe, each from Kenya, confirmed us a number of sides of Lake Victoria and the problems surrounding it. Calvin’s story on sudden, large fish kills and the consequences on native fishers, left a mark on him personally (as reporting on individuals and the planet typically does). “It was troubling witnessing the ache of the fishers from their losses, however getting to inform their story was a reduction,” he says. “It felt like they have been getting a platform to not solely categorical their frustration but in addition to hunt assist and options to the issue.”
Sharon Akinyi heads a household of three siblings. Image courtesy of Collins Oduor/Standard.
That’s the great thing about this work — generally, we get to see outcomes. Mactilda’s story on orphaned kids who are actually in command of their households within the wake of Lake Victoria flooding caught consideration in Kenya. “This story has generated a big affect, prompting elevated assist for orphaned kids from each native and nationwide governments, in addition to non-state actors, who are actually directing consideration to the plight of uncared for kids going through the flooding alongside the lake’s shores,” she says.
This is tough work. And it’s a course of. The fellowship entails a number of back-and-forth modifying and training, and each step is a chance to be taught one thing new. “What I’ve realized most significantly is that, like all the pieces in life, science and environmental journalism are additionally about methodology, and studying from errors and successes. The extra I make errors, right them and enhance through the writing of a narrative, the higher my subsequent one can be,” says Michael Esquer, who started his fellowship in October. Just a number of weeks in the past, his first revealed story took a captivating, nuanced take a look at historic Amazon earthworks and their implications for Indigenous individuals right this moment who’re struggling to realize rights and recognition of their lands.
We’ll have extra from Brazil that delves into human rights points — so observe us for updates. Without giving an excessive amount of away, fellow Vitor Prado dos Anjos says his forthcoming story from the area “marked a big turning level in my fellowship. Independently planning and executing a reporting journey, in addition to delving into the complexities of [an] neglected battle, significantly contributed to my skilled growth.” (Earlier this yr, Vitor additionally reported a narrative on the relocation of the cutest threatened porcupines you ever did see — I dare you to take a look at these photographs and never smile.)
Thin-spined porcupines are recognized to be fairly choosy eaters, as roughly 85% of their weight-reduction plan consists solely of 4 plant species; these animals maintain the excellence of being probably the most folivorous species of porcupine. Image courtesy of Leonardo Merçon/Instituto Últimos Refúgios.
There’s far more in retailer for 2024, as the present fellows proceed their work. “In simply two months, I can really feel a confidence rising in me that I generally is a profitable environmental journalist if I can do what Mongabay is educating me,” says Niladry Sarkar. His first article took readers excessive into the Himalayas, the place scientists have discovered droplets of 600-million-year-old ocean water that holds clues to the evolution of advanced life on Earth.
“This fellowship has been essential to my development as a journalist,” says Swati Thapa, who revealed her first Mongabay piece earlier this month, exploring longstanding stigmas which have hindered analysis on same-sex sexual conduct in animals. Now that worldviews are altering a bit, scientists inform her, new worlds of information are opening up. “I really feel it is likely one of the most essential tales I’ve finished,” Swati says.
And it’s solely the start — there may be a lot extra to do. “There are so many tales that matter,” Jewel says. “We want extra environmental journalists.”
We’re engaged on it. Stay tuned.
Monique Pool with one among her most cherished creatures. Image courtesy of Green Heritage Fund Suriname.
Banner picture: James Njuguna, a shepherd who lives close to Kenya’s Manguo swamp, a group water supply and harbor of biodiversity that has dried up for the primary time in residents’ reminiscence. Fellow Calvin Rock reported the story. Image by Calvin Rock Odhiambo/Mongabay.
Animals, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environmental Politics, Fellows, Fish, Forests, Governance, Impact Of Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Mammals, Microplastics, Mongabay fellows and interns, Plastic, Protected Areas, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation
Africa, Amazon, Asia, Brazil, East Africa, Himalayas, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Philippines, South America, Suriname