Undergraduate student programme

Central to Dambari Wildlife Trust’s (DWT) 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. As of the 2015 / 16 intake, DWT has hosted 36 students.

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 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.