Undergraduate Student Programme

Central to Dambari Wildlife Trust’s objective to build local capacity is our undergraduate student attachment programme. Each year, we host two or three students from Zimbabwean universities for the duration of their 10-month work-related learning module.

The aim of the attachment programme is to provide students with practical experience in the research and conservation arena. To achieve this, they carry out novel research projects (which they generally take forward as their fourth-year university dissertation; project titles are listed on the Publications Page), rotate around the organisation’s departments, accompany researchers on field trips to learn about field research and community work, and assist with data entry.

We support and encourage their attendance at talks in Bulawayo to broaden their knowledge about locally relevant science- and conservation-related topics. Importantly, students also give at least two seminars per year on their projects, one at the proposal stage and one when they’ve completed data collection and analysis, in order to hone their verbal scientific skills. The audience for these seminars is drawn from the universities and conservation sectors in Bulawayo.

Being undergraduates, many of the students are inexperienced in practical scientific skills, particularly scientific writing and statistics, so we run a tutorial course in the first fortnight of the attachment period that covers fifteen topics. These include scientific writing style, how to critically evaluate the scientific literature, the pitfalls of plagiarism, tips on editing and proofreading, experimental design and statistics and some “quick tips” for data management and document formatting. In addition, a module on compiling a CV and how to apply for jobs is included, so that students can begin to think about how to enhance their professional careers.

Many of our past students have pursued higher degrees, become teachers, or entered academia; and some have returned to DWT as contract field officers.

Cedric’s Story

I applied for and was accepted onto DWT’s undergraduate student attachment programme, which I undertook in the 2011/12 Zimbabwean academic year. The programme covered everything from project planning and execution, analysing, report writing and how to communicate wildlife research. These skills were further strengthened with the opportunity for fieldwork in Matobo National Park and with the surrounding communities; accompanying and assisting experienced DWT research personnel was incredibly valuable.

These learning opportunities covered fundamental areas which neatly complemented and filled out the remaining gaps from the teaching that I had received from my university. Along with insightful research supervision from DWT, I was able to apply these acquired skills in carrying out an impeccable independent piece of ecological research, for which I was awarded a Distinction by my university. On completion of the 4th and final year of my degree, I was accepted to re-join DWT to run the Matobo Biodiversity Monitoring Programme, during which time DWT continued to provide opportunities to further develop in the areas of statistical analysis and geographic information systems software. DWT also helped facilitate my attendance and presentation at a regional conference abroad.

The skills and experience I gained with the support of DWT enabled me to gain acceptance onto a fully-funded conservation skills programme in Tanzania, the United States and a Masters degree at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Following my Masters, I established a University of Oxford-endorsed startup, Weed2Pesticide that is working towards providing an ecologically-friendly, commercial solution to agro-ecological problems caused by a pernicious invasive weed in Southern Africa. Alongside this, I joined the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation as Faculty/Academic Staff, where we are building ethical, entrepreneurial conservation leaders for the African continent.

How You Can Help

The best way to support someone is with the gift of a good education. Can you help?

US$1750 covers all costs for one student for 10 months,
including a small stipend, accommodation, research project materials and scientific guidance.

US$300 provides an introductory training course in scientific methods for up to 5 students.

Supporting Zimbabwe’s young people with their conservation education ensures their future and is one of the best ways to ensure Zimbabwe maintains a healthy environment and its valuable wildlife populations.

To find out more about how you can support this programme, please email director@dambari.com for details.