CALS Graduate receives Russell Train Fellowship from the World Wildlife Fund

Zambia Lion (Photo Credit: Dave Christianson)
Zambia Lion (Photo Credit: Dave Christianson)

Thandi Mweetwa, graduate student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences School of Natural Resources and the Environment, has received the Russell Train Fellowship award from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for her conservation work in Africa.

Mweetwa began research on lion populations in Zambia when she started graduate school at the University of Arizona in January 2014. Her research, titled “African lion demography across two critical populations in Zambia,” is performed under the advisement of Dave Christianson, assistant professor for Wildlife Conservation and Management. For her research, Mweetwa uses direct observation and fecal samples to determine survival and reproduction rates inside and outside the protected areas of Zambia to determine the efficacy of the conservation lands.

The fellowship award, which is given annually to a small number of conservationists from different countries, was presented to Mweetwa following her start at the University of Arizona. Fellows, like Mweetwa, are sent off to study conservation at international universities and then return to their home countries with their new knowledge to continue their conservation careers. The fellowship award provides funding for fellows’ conservation projects, which Mweetwa will use for her conservation work in her home country, Zambia.

“What’s great about Thandi is that she is able to pursue her advanced degree doing research in her own ‘back-yard’ so to speak.” Christianson comments. “The opportunity to study wildlife ecology in eastern Zambia is incredible and wildlife issues in that region are front-and-center, every day, for the people who live there.  The fellowship provides the opportunity for someone who grew-up living with those issues to better understand that system for the sake of the local community and for wildlife.“

Per the WWF, “Today’s conservation challenges are more complex than ever before and require advanced skills and knowledge to tackle pressing issues from climate change and deforestation to wildlife crime and rights-based fisheries management. EFN (Education for Nature) program provides fellowships to rising leaders to address these global challenges.”

To learn more about the fellowship, click the link below.

Date released: 
Jul 14 2014
Contact: 
Dave Christianson